Monday, August 9, 2010

The Kitchen God's Wife


There have been books written about the generational and cultural gap between the 1st and 1.5, 2nd generation of immigrants. (FYI, 1st generation: born and raised in the Mother Country and emigrates to a new country as an adult. 1.5 generation: born in the Mother Country, but emigrates when she is young. 2nd generation: born and raised in the new country) I liked the stories told from the perspective of the 1.5 and 2nd generation because that is something I can relate to. But I also have read books and articles about the stories of the 1st generation of Korean immigrants who have emigrated to the States after having experienced the brutality of Japanese Occupation and the Korean War. But I always blamed the generational gap and cultural misunderstandings on the 1st generation parents because I saw the situation through the bias of my own experiences and unexpressed frustration. Reading The Kitchen God's Wife softened my heart and allowed me to see my parents in a different light.

The beginning of the book is told by the voice of the 40-something-year-old daughter and her complaints against her mother. The rest of the book (until the daughter's voice comes back in the end)is in the mother's voice telling her 2nd generation daughter about her life in China during Japanese Occupation, WWII, the liberation of China from Japan's grip, and China's subsequent emergence with Communism.

Through the stories, the reader, along with the daughter, gets to know the mother and is able to understand her history and the source of her "weird-ness" that her daughter is so embarrassed of.

It was a heart-warming story that addressed the prevailing problems between these two generations. I felt like I saw a glimpse of the my own parents' tragedy in The Kitchen God's Wife. My heart grew about an inch after I read the book.

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