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Troublemaker And Other Saints [Paperback]

Christina Chiu
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 4 2002
Meet the Wongs, Shengs, and Tsuis. Each of these families has its own troubles and secrets. But the three clans-whose members include a matriarch who talks to dead relatives, her nymphomaniac granddaughter, and a street punk-share a past and face a common future. Hailed by critics, Troublemaker "refracts classic old-vs.-new-world tensions through the prism of second-generation Chinese-American Gen-Xers." (Time)

"A truly auspicious fiction debut." (Vanity Fair)

"Honest, complex...deeply satisfying." (Entertainment Weekly)

"Literary debuts don't come much nervier. [It] explores the generational, cultural and sexual divides with humor and compassion." (The Washington Post Book World)

"Impressive...Chiu weaves gracefully among her characters' several stories. Wonderfully involving and intelligent." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"[Christina Chiu is] a find." (Detroit Free Press)

"Recommended for all collections." (Library Journal) "I loved every page." (Alice Elliott Dark, author of In the Gloaming)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Tragedy and epiphany strike with equal force in this collection of 11 related short stories featuring the Chinese-American members of an extended network of family, friends, lovers and neighbors combating their private and public shames and struggling to find a place to call home. In "Troublemaker," Eric Tsui, a teenager growing up in a squalid corner of New York's Chinatown, suffers physical abuse at the hands of his brother and rediscovers both his national identity and his humanity when he's forced to reconcile with an elderly neighbor he injured in a prank. Eric's abusive brother, Jonathan, resurfaces in two other stories: "Trader," in which his engagement falls apart when his fianc‚e is overwhelmed by his uncontrollable anger and feelings of inferiority at being Asian, and "Gentleman," in which he participates in a dramatic one-night stand in Hong Kong on the night of the handover. After years of racial slurs, his Hong Kong lover, Amy, an "Asian beauty," turns the Asian sexual fetish on its head, trying to regain her sense of self-worth through encounters with men she meets through the personals; in "Beauty," she brings white men to their knees, but her thoughts drift to the only Chinese lover she's had, Jonathan. The list of issues confronted in the stories is grim domestic violence, suicide, crime, sexual abuse, anorexia, racism and yet Chiu somehow manages to avoid cynicism or despair. Torn between the Asian inclination to save face and the American penchant for sharing troubles and emotions, her characters are tenderly and skillfully drawn, and, as the title suggests, most ultimately find redemption. In sharp, witty, heartbreaking prose, Chui communicates the Asian-American experience as adeptly and freshly as Sherman Alexie describes the Native American experience, or Junot D¡az defines Latino life in the U.S. (Mar. 5)Forecast: Advance praise is already pouring in for this impressive collection it is an alternate selection for BOMC and QPB, and a nominee for a BOMC First Fiction Award, and likely will be one of the most talked-about literary debuts of the year.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This debut offers a rich but wholly edible slice of diverse contemporary Chinese American life. Chiu's 11 stories are so tightly woven together that they read like a novel. Shifting from New York City to Hong Kong, the stories occur mostly around the time the British were returning the latter to China and expertly chronicle the daily struggles of their characters. The "troublemakers and saints" who appear prominently in one story often reappear as secondary but supporting characters in another's poignant narrative. Thus, in "Troublemaker," skateboarding aficionado Eric must do penance for seriously wounding an elderly neighbor by daily tending to the old man's needs. Eric materializes again in "Trader," his brother Johnnie's testimonial about how not to negotiate lasting love and affection. After tasting this creative morsel, readers will be hungry for Chiu's first novel or second work of collected stories. Recommended for all collections.DFaye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a pleasure to read Nov. 8 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book encompassed everything, no stereotypes were allowed to seep in and I loved that. A gamut of personalities were explored here and there were things about racial identity, about being Asian, sprinkled in here and there but that served only to add to these characters and in the exploration of their lives. The writing style was great, the author jumped from person to person but never let the reader lose sight of the larger picture and how each character's life flowed into anothers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully complex characters Aug. 13 2002
Format:Paperback
Though this is a collection of short stories, the author manages to create some complex characters within the tales of life among a group of Asian Americans. Far from the mawkish fare derided by some other reviewers, I found Chiu's prose to be efficient and interesting. Sure, she does use a fair amount of patois in the dialogue of some of the older characters who struggle with the English language, but it isn't obnoxious. The author skillfully introduces characters as a minor part of one story and then builds on that character in a succeeding chapter. Ms. Chiu provides a window on the experiences of a group of people that may not be representative of the entire Asian American experience, which was probably not her goal anyways, but it does shed light on some of the problems universal to those outside of the mainstream. Identity crises, ghettoization, self-hate, violence are all laid bare for the reader to experience through the eyes of these characters. However I wasn't searching for any deeper meaning in this work; I accepted for what it was -- good fiction.
There were some unanswered questions that left holes in some of the stories. Just how did the golden child Georgianna wind up married to a Black man? Was she just being rebellious or did she love him? With the gay characters (there are two), how did they come out to their families? And as for the girl who isn't into Asian men -- what happened to make her that way? Surely she wasn't born with an aversion to her own kind. I realize that the constraints of the short story form prevent any in-depth treatment of those questions, but just a few sentences of background could have cleared those things up. Then again, maybe those were deliberate omissions to lend a bit of mystery to the characters. Still, I thought this was a very good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book Dec 13 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I am very impressed with the way the author presented many different points of view in a realistic and unforced manner. I'm not quite sure why there are so many comparisons to Joy Luck Club- this book has nothing in common with Joy Luck Club except its main characters happen to be Asian. For the reviewer who thought this book did not represent "true" Chinese- American life, my question to you is- what IS a "true" Chinese-American experience? There is no such thing. Sex, drugs, violence- all of these are present in the patchwork of society and if you think that Chinese-Americans are exempt from such, I strongly suggest you open your eyes (or move out of suburbia). The characters in this book are provocative, and multi-dimensional. A very interesting read indeed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Joy Luck Club again? Yes and No Oct. 31 2001
Format:Hardcover
The day After I put down the book after finishing it in one day, my mind was still dancing from stories to stories, from the Wongs, to the Shengs, to the Tsuis. But after I got over the excitement, part of me was thinking, "Trouble Maker" is just like the "Job Luck Club", stereotyping Chinese American, making up all the sad stories just to prove that we are different from all other races and never changes. The "face thing", the cover-up of family scandal, the fix-up, the dinner, and the "bao ying (what goes around comes around, payback)" are all there from JLC to the Trouble Maker. You almost can predict the end of the story if you know the usual stereotypes about Chinese American. Nevertheless, the book still intrigued me. I think first of all, the story's setting makes a big difference (or should I say a big step forward) from JLC. Unlike JLC, Trouble Maker is not just about love and happy endings. Instead, Chiu drew us a bigger picture of the nowaday society, sexuality, suicide, disorder, crime, devoice and global business. You can see vividly how the characters struggle in this canvas as real people. Chiu's writing is also very spiritual, nothing like the JLC begging for cheap tears. She wrote about tragidies, but she could strik up a real conversation that is also humourous. At the end, it just got me thinking, instead of crying or sympathizing for the characters. I am thinking, what'd I do, twenty years later, if my daughter tells me she is bi? I can see me reading this book again by then.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining.. Oct. 16 2001
By Selina
Format:Hardcover
A good book written with intricate prose. Unforunately, as the book got nearer to the end, so did my understanding. It was confusing keeping up with the characters towards ending because the voices of the characters were interlaced too much with each other. But a great read otherwise.. Sure did leave me thinking..
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3.0 out of 5 stars Smooth Short Stories: More than Meets the Eye Oct. 3 2001
Format:Hardcover
Suave and seductive, yet shockingly smart. Similar to your average Mitsubishi ad hiding behind slanted eyes and catchy tunes, Christina Chiu's "Troublemakers and Other Saints" appeals to the maturing Generation X, the twentysomethings who coined the phrase "multitasking" for that essential element of practical/portable pleasure. Judging a book by its cover, this glossy eyecatcher could be the fluffy fodder touted by American women on their lunch breaks, in between Oprah's Book Club selections. The alluring graphics, tempered pages, and gapingly irreverent title aesthetically appeal to those quick-read junkies encouraged by the Nike swoosh to "just do it." However, it may come as something of a revelation that this collected novella has some worth besides a fashionable coffee table muse. Cunning yarns are vaguely enchanting, reaching beyond the typical Asian mystique. Characters play with the reader's mind, seamlessly binding the work as a whole through the threads of vibrant personality. Lucid if not lurid ambiance plays an eclectic theme, promising that certain flawless ending even when essentially left unsaid. These tales are but reflections of ourselves in the vices we would rather ignore. The maxims of "Trouble Makers and Other Saints" are Aesop's Fables for the 20th. Century, with more hope of remaining in the reader's already overloaded subconscious than the latest disposable paperback.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Smooth Short Stories: More than Meets the Eye
Suave and seductive, yet shockingly smart. Similar to your average Mitsubishi ad hiding behind slanted eyes and catchy tunes, Christina Chiu's "Troublemakers and Other... Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2001 by Callie A. Collins
3.0 out of 5 stars Smooth Short Stories: More than Meets the Eye
Suave and seductive, yet shockingly smart. Similar to your average Mitsubishi ad hiding behind slanted eyes and catchy tunes, Christina Chiu's "Troublemaker and Other... Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2001 by Callie A. Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars A new favorite...
I found this book so refreshing. The series of cleverly intertwined short stories was a perfect change of pace after being an avid novel reader for so long. Read more
Published on June 11 2001 by Jessica R. Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars uMm...No!
You know, it really did start out pretty well with some of the little stories she had. For example, the girl who had an eating disorder, or even the grandmother (although that was... Read more
Published on June 3 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars re: Excellent and moving!
Christina's stories of the Asian culture is exact and emotional. When I first took a look at it, I thought it was going to be another "Joy luck Club", as many of the... Read more
Published on May 22 2001 by Pei Kang
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised!
Nowadays there are so many Asian/Asian-American writers and they all seem rather similiar in terms of themes. Read more
Published on April 19 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read
"Troublemaker" is a wonderful read of short intertwined stories. What make these stories work(apart from the delicious dialogue) is the rollercoaster of emotion the... Read more
Published on March 24 2001 by Patrick A. Sullivan
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