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In 1081 when Su Shi was 42 years old, he was arrested for writing controversial poetry which was said to criticize government reforms.  He would have been sentenced to death but for Emperor Shenzong who instead exiled him to a remote area, Huangzhou.  The land was dry and suffering from drought, and he was forced to work the parched earth or starve.  As a result, he wrote the poetry of East Slope.

Translated by Jeffrey Yang, Su Shi’s poetry is simple – almost stark – but beautiful.  He speaks of the labor of beginning with only an empty field and no food or home.  As he toils over the land, his poetry expresses a contrast of having nothing yet being rich in the surroundings of nature.

Any nature lover, gardener, or farmer can easily relate to the ancient poetry of Su Shi, as can anyone who has ever lost it all, yet found the beauty in beginning again.  

Published by Ugly Duckling Presse, this unique collection is printed in the same simple yet elegant manner of the poet’s words.  Bound in a folder, tied with string, each poem contains both the original Chinese characters and the English translation; each poem written on a subtle pictorial background.  East Slope is a must-own piece for any lover of ancient Chinese literature; this handful of precious poems will be returned to again and again.

Life as an immigrant is filled with challenges–learning a new language, living in a different culture, being far away from home.  The Chinese Knot is a series of short stories by writer Lien Chao, focusing on Chinese immigrants in Canada.  Chao’s own experiences as a Chinese-Canadian in Toronto is one major influence on these stories, although for the most part she based the stories on the experiences of the people within her community.  

The Chinese Knot offers the reader a realistic view of the Chinese immigrant, making it a great resource as either a study guide or a way to find a sympathetic voice for anyone who has ever moved their entire life to new surroundings.  Heartfelt and provocative, it opens the way for discussions on multicultural issues and racial stereotypes.

Published by Tsar Publications.

I love reading and learning about Asian culture and its rich history. China certainly has no shortage of either! When you mix that with the genealogy of a family, you’ve got my interest. Growing up, I listened to my mother’s stories of our ancestors as she uncovered their secrets while studying our family tree. While there are no Chinese branches on mine, there is a wonderful Asian twist that has given me a lifelong fascination with the Orient. That’s why books like Sweet Mandarin always manage to grab me and hang on.

Sweet Mandarin is more than a true story. It is several true stories all woven into one amazing family history that is author Helen Tse’s. Starting with the story of her great grandparents, it works its way from generation to generation, giving a beautiful account of what makes her family unique. Helen Tse’s family history contains a long line of fascinating people who struggled to work their way out of difficult situations, regardless of what they were “supposed” to do. The story starts with a great grandfather who began his own soy sauce factory and the family that suffered the consequences of his success. The bulk of the focus is on the women in Tse’s family; strong, brave women who break the bonds of China’s traditions, all the while coveting their culture like a valuable pearl. Tse’s family boasts three generations of restaurant owners, all having stories that will inspire and entertain.

Sweet Mandarin is a book that will appeal to a very wide audience – men, women, even young adult. Will it ever appear on the silver screen? I wouldn’t be surprised, and I certainly hope to hear there’s a movie contract in the works. And I thought my family was fascinating…

Want to win your own copy of Sweet Mandarin?

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me a little something about your family history. (I promise I won’t tell.) Where are you from? Do you know your roots, or are they a secret? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, September 5, 2008, to enter.