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Tourists merely visit, but expatriates get to live in another culture. Some of the women represented in this collection of 22 "tales" have lived abroad as students, teachers, or aid workers, while others either pursued career opportunities or fulfilled a romantic fascination with a particular country or culture. Motivation aside, almost all have chosen to relate experiences of vulnerability and unease and a nostalgia for the culturally familiar. An expat living in appliance-deprived China recounts her craving for and courageous attempt at roasting a chicken, while another in Prague relates the challenge of finding fresh produce in order to cook a chicken stir-fry. Yet another, in the south of France, homesick for Thanksgiving turkey, describes the troubles she had concocting such a dinner for acquaintances. Others are disheartened to discover that not all Australians have an abiding love for Yanks, that not everyone in Greece, Borneo, or Japan speaks English, and that most cultures have distinctive cues or codes that the foreigner will inevitably misinterpret. Most of the reporting is of disillusionment and cultural dissonance-cautionary tales for all who believe the global village is America. Recommended for public libraries.
Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
More than romantic adventure, living abroad means that 24-hour supermarkets, reliable fuel sources, and even blankets can't be taken for granted, as the 22 contributors to Expat attest. Many of their stories focus on food. Tonya Ward Singer craves golden roasted chicken while in China, so she must purchase a newly killed bird and dress and cook it in a Chinese kitchen that is little more than a toaster oven and a slop bucket. Other contributors crave American pop culture. Emily Wise Miller finds herself eagerly anticipating lowbrow action-adventure flicks she wouldn't deign to watch on TV in the States. Still others show the expat (short for expatriate) imparting American values while learning to appreciate new friends' perspectives on life. For instance, in Egypt and among parents whom Westerners would think negligent, Laura Fokkena sees child rearing anew, as a matter of enjoying one's family rather than heroically trying to mold children into predictable products. The collection engages us because these expats are humbled and transformed by their contacts with cultures different from their own. June Pulliam
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