Book review: The Dim Sum of All Things
Connie, 17, says The Dim Sum of All Things is a great book that offers funny insights into Asian-American culture.
Dim Sum: an authentic, Chinese cuisine served in bite-sized portions, allowing one to have a little of everything. If the title of Kim Wong Keltner’s book doesn’t grab your attention, her vibrant observations will. This novel captures the life of 25-year-old Lindsey Owyang, who, while trying to better appreciate her Chinese culture, can’t let go of her beloved Ann Taylor cardigans and pepperoni pizza movie nights.
As an American-born Chinese woman living in the San Francisco Bay area, Lindsey Owyang grew up shunning all public signs of her cultural heritage. Lindsey was afraid of being associated with the "immigrant outcasts," who ate rice with cooked intestines and unrecognizable fish parts for lunch. She was proud to speak and understand only English while flaunting her flamboyant Bugs Bunny lunch box filled with Safeway cold cuts. Ironically, she would await authentic meals cooked at her home by her grandmother Pau Pau, who played Mahjong (an intense Chinese gambling game with tiles).
Lindsey works as a proud meat-eating receptionist at Vegan Warrior, a newspaper serving the vegetarian/vegan community. She falls in love with the magazine’s travel editor Michael Cartier, who is also one of the few closet meat-eaters. However, Lindsey is hesitant to fall in love with someone who might prove true her theory of "Hoarders of All Things Asian," white men who fall in love with Asian women because of their "mysterious, exotic" appeal.
You’ll laugh, cry and gasp at Lindsey’s actions throughout her journey through boisterous Chinese family dinners, market trips with Pau Pau yelling "Fai-dee" ("hurry up") in a very panicky manner and disastrous blind dates set up by Pau Pau’s friends. From sitting in the passenger seat of a zooming rice rocket to singing in a karaoke bar with a bunch of William Hung wannabes, Lindsey’s blind date experiences are like no other.
It is during her visit to distant relatives in China, that she gets a better understanding of her culture and identity, all while struggling with her quest to find "true love." After gaining insight into her family’s early life of hardships and first loves, Lindsey forms a greater appreciation of her traditional Chinese grandmother.
Wong Keltner describes Lindsey’s drastic transition from being raised on Spaghetti-O’s to understanding her dim sum roots. Her sophisticated writing will definitely boost your vocabulary, and have you turning page after page with her catchy chapter titles like "Honor Roll, Not Egg Roll," "They Eat Horses, Don’t They?" and "Let Us Now Praise Chinese Grannies."
This novel is brilliant in the way that it strips away the typical "Oriental" stereotypes and in return, gives you a little taste of what it’s really like to be Asian living in America today. doesn’t grab your attention, her vibrant observations will. This novel captures the life of 25-year-old Lindsey Owyang, who, while trying to better appreciate her Chinese culture, can’t let go of her beloved Ann Taylor cardigans and pepperoni pizza movie nights.