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Hunger: A Novella and Stories

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“Spare and haunting tales that ask ordinary questions about that extraordinary emotion: love.”—Chicago Tribune The novella and five stories that make up this collection reveal the lives of immigrant families haunted by lost loves: a ghost seduces a young girl into a flooded river; a mother commands a daughter to avenge her father’s death; and in the title novella, a woman s “Spare and haunting tales that ask ordinary questions about that extraordinary emotion: love.”—Chicago Tribune The novella and five stories that make up this collection reveal the lives of immigrant families haunted by lost loves: a ghost seduces a young girl into a flooded river; a mother commands a daughter to avenge her father’s death; and in the title novella, a woman speaks from beyond the grave about her tragic marriage to an exiled musician whose own disappointments nearly destroyed their two daughters.


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“Spare and haunting tales that ask ordinary questions about that extraordinary emotion: love.”—Chicago Tribune The novella and five stories that make up this collection reveal the lives of immigrant families haunted by lost loves: a ghost seduces a young girl into a flooded river; a mother commands a daughter to avenge her father’s death; and in the title novella, a woman s “Spare and haunting tales that ask ordinary questions about that extraordinary emotion: love.”—Chicago Tribune The novella and five stories that make up this collection reveal the lives of immigrant families haunted by lost loves: a ghost seduces a young girl into a flooded river; a mother commands a daughter to avenge her father’s death; and in the title novella, a woman speaks from beyond the grave about her tragic marriage to an exiled musician whose own disappointments nearly destroyed their two daughters.

30 review for Hunger: A Novella and Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Hunger consists of one novella (titled “Hunger”) and five short stories. I have to say the title novella blew my mind; I felt so emotional about it I literally wrote an entire blog post so I could process all my feelings. Lan Samantha Chang writes like a dream; instead of reading words on a page, I felt myself with these characters, the colors and scents and spaces of their homes, all the ways they love, lose, and lie to one another. I would give at least 10 stars to the title novella. Though “H Hunger consists of one novella (titled “Hunger”) and five short stories. I have to say the title novella blew my mind; I felt so emotional about it I literally wrote an entire blog post so I could process all my feelings. Lan Samantha Chang writes like a dream; instead of reading words on a page, I felt myself with these characters, the colors and scents and spaces of their homes, all the ways they love, lose, and lie to one another. I would give at least 10 stars to the title novella. Though “Hunger” comes out to just a little more than 100 pages, it packs a similar if not even more powerful punch than full-length novels. It follows a woman who marries a passionate, temperamental musician whose suffering seeps into and poisons the lives of their two daughters. Every word felt so necessary and meaningful yet effortlessly placed, every detail about each character felt organic to the characters’ development while keen about the human psyche. As an Asian American myself, I loved how Chang captured the raw emotional complexity that accompanies an immigrant parent’s desperate love for their child when their own self-worth has been compromised, as well as when children of immigrants push their parents away in rebellion or stay with them in solidarity for their solitude. Of the short stories, “The Eve of the Spirit Festival” came to closest to taking my breath away in the same way that “Hunger” did, followed by “The Unknowing.” Again, Chang’s writing is simply superb, and I feel amazed by her ability to write about fraught parent and child dynamics while capturing all the love and nuance accompanying the Chinese immigration and assimilation process. I feel so grateful for Chang because in the process of processing my feelings about the novella and stories within this collection, I reflected a lot on my parents and their own experiences. While I don’t want to go too into it in this review, I’m not really in touch with my parents, and while I feel good about that, Chang brought me a deeper empathy and understanding of the narrative of my own life as the son of immigrants, even though I’m Vietnamese and not Chinese. Through reading this novella and story collection, I saw my own life and my own choices more clearly, which I consider one of the greatest gifts of reading fiction. Recommended to fans of Celeste Ng and Min Jin Lee, though Chang’s stories center more on nuanced emotions and quiet interpersonal dynamics than a sense of adventure or exciting mystery. I skimmed some reviews and appreciated this review for noting that it does seem a bit stereotypical that so many of the children in this book go on to get PhDs from prestigious universities; thus, I’d also highly recommend Jenny Zhang’s iconic, subversive collection Sour Heart to accompany Hunger. Thank you also to Andrew for prompting me again to read Hunger, a book that consumed in the best possible way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Felice Picano

    I read this book a decade or so before, when I met the author at some conference or literary festival or other and we bonded over growing up immigrant's children in the outer New York City boroughs. I recently found the book again and began with the stories, liking them all over again, especially the most memorable, final one,"Pippa's Story." This time however, I also got into the title "novella." I'm using quotes around that, because by length it is a novella, but it is as deep, and full, and r I read this book a decade or so before, when I met the author at some conference or literary festival or other and we bonded over growing up immigrant's children in the outer New York City boroughs. I recently found the book again and began with the stories, liking them all over again, especially the most memorable, final one,"Pippa's Story." This time however, I also got into the title "novella." I'm using quotes around that, because by length it is a novella, but it is as deep, and full, and rich as books four times it's length: a marvelous saga, yes saga, about one family of father, mother and two girl children in the U.S. and what the father's dream becomes --sheer hunger--played out over two generations and all but destroying them all. Artists of all sorts must recognize this hunger for what it is, and the dirty little secret of every writer, painter, musician, sculptor, crafts-person, et al, is how powerfully this non-thing controls our lives, making decisions for us, moving us across the globe, and often manipulating our lives. Usually those around us have no idea what it is that makes us act so strangely. Chang "gets" it --and illustrates it's seductions and its sacrifices beautifully and sadly. Brilliantly. A month or so ago I was reading a collection of 20th Century Chinese stories from 1922 to 1948, in a Foreign Languages Press edition not listed or listable by Goodreads, by authors I'd mostly never heard of -- Wang Tongzhao, Yu Dufu, Ye Shengtao, Shen Congwen, Zu Dishan, Lao She --etc. Lan Samantha Chang's Hunger and stories fulfill that tradition as perfectly as anything I know.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    This is a Novella plus short stories about the immigrant’s hunger for acceptance, for love, for lost tradition, and how one parent’s desire for fulfillment can tear a family apart. Excellent. The title story is told by the wife, Min, an immigrant from Taiwan. She is working as the hostess in a Chinese restaurant when she meets her husband Tian, a violin student and teacher at the local music conservatory. They marry and set up house in a small apartment in Brooklyn. But Min can never get over her This is a Novella plus short stories about the immigrant’s hunger for acceptance, for love, for lost tradition, and how one parent’s desire for fulfillment can tear a family apart. Excellent. The title story is told by the wife, Min, an immigrant from Taiwan. She is working as the hostess in a Chinese restaurant when she meets her husband Tian, a violin student and teacher at the local music conservatory. They marry and set up house in a small apartment in Brooklyn. But Min can never get over her sense of suspense, and she never learns English. Tian also struggles with English and is passed over time and again for a permanent professorship. Eventually he loses his post entirely and resorts to being the bus boy in the same Chinese Restaurant where Min used to work. They manage to raise two daughters, the younger of whom is a naturally gifted violinist, but lazy about perfecting her skill. Each person in this family hungers for what s/he does not have. Tian for respect and success. Min for the love of her children and her home in Taiwan. Anna for the love of her parents, especially Tian. Ruth for freedom from expectations. The other stories (except for the last) are similar in that they deal with Chinese immigrants in America and their struggles to fit in, to remember (or forget) their homeland; they are all hungry for acceptance, for love, for their traditions, for a new life, for success. The last story is the only one that takes place entirely in China and tells a story of a young woman from a small village who comes to Shanghai to find her fortune just before WW II, and instead finds a way to avenge her parents. (First read in May 2007 for one of my book clubs. Read it again in December 2009 for a different book club. )

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Hagy

    The title novella is dynamite, one of the best I've read in a very long time. Chang's sense of character is deft and deep, and the shadows gather in "Hunger" in a powerful and unforgettable way. Each of the remaining stories is sure-footed. Chang writes very well. She's clear-eyed and unafraid of examining the painful bonds we often wrap around ourselves in the name of family. A strong collection. The title novella is dynamite, one of the best I've read in a very long time. Chang's sense of character is deft and deep, and the shadows gather in "Hunger" in a powerful and unforgettable way. Each of the remaining stories is sure-footed. Chang writes very well. She's clear-eyed and unafraid of examining the painful bonds we often wrap around ourselves in the name of family. A strong collection.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A simple, quiet, yet powerful look at the lives of immigrant families, through short stories and a novella. I share the popular opinion that the novella anchors the collection as its strong point. It explores so well the ways in which immigrant families strive to figure out what/who to hold on to and what/who to let go of, all amidst the challenge of simultaneously assimilating and retaining their own culture. As a former violinist, I also found the sections on practicing, playing, and positioni A simple, quiet, yet powerful look at the lives of immigrant families, through short stories and a novella. I share the popular opinion that the novella anchors the collection as its strong point. It explores so well the ways in which immigrant families strive to figure out what/who to hold on to and what/who to let go of, all amidst the challenge of simultaneously assimilating and retaining their own culture. As a former violinist, I also found the sections on practicing, playing, and positioning so familiar. The violin is an instrument that requires a certain level of perfection, and that mirrors the standard to which immigrants and their children are held to in America. I can't believe this collection is twenty years old! I meant to read it so many times over the years and definitely should have gotten to it sooner. These pieces are a masterful reminder that a short story doesn't have to do acrobatics to be successful, that straightforward storytelling, in the right hands, can go a long way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ying

    i spied a great fire in the fields through the train window and felt remnants of this book within me, still, like a dull ache. ---- wow. this book is everything. and that title. wish I could talk to sandhu about this one. someone, make a class about mourning, melancholia and AsAm lit!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    Short stories by a Chinese American, each exploring displacement and distance from Chinese culture. Poignant.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This novel was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend whose literary tastes I appreciate and reviews I admire. I would not have found this book on my own, so I’m very thankful. Hunger is a collection of short stories by Lan Samantha Chang, a Chinese American born in the US to immigrant parents. I enjoyed this work on so many levels. First, Chang’s writing is simple yet immersive; I feel completely aware of the characters’ desires and obstacles. It’s like you can know all about a person just thr This novel was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend whose literary tastes I appreciate and reviews I admire. I would not have found this book on my own, so I’m very thankful. Hunger is a collection of short stories by Lan Samantha Chang, a Chinese American born in the US to immigrant parents. I enjoyed this work on so many levels. First, Chang’s writing is simple yet immersive; I feel completely aware of the characters’ desires and obstacles. It’s like you can know all about a person just through the look in his/her eyes; I can see into the characters’ eyes. Next, because of my cultural background (immigrant at age 9, bi-culturally Chinese-American), the cultural themes wound so tightly around each story are incredibly palpable and relatable to me: deeply emotional and complex characters who are bound by an inability to communicate; an unfulfillable hunger for an ultimate dream in a foreign land; immigrant parents—unable to assimilate—who wish their children to succeed at all costs; the burden of children to live out their immigrant parents’ dreams; the cultural gap between generations that widens due to differences in philosophy and unfulfilled expectations; and the weaving of ghosts and spirits as an integral part of Chinese storytelling. Finally, a myriad of details truly connected with me, such as the violin-playing and the many foods/events and Chinese phrases in the stories. My favorite short stories were “Hunger” and “The Unforgetting.” The husband-wife, parent-children, and sibling dynamics were realistically portrayed and brought about much sadness, frustration, and revelation on my part. They made me reflect on my upbringing by my immigrant parents, and the way I parent my own children now. Though vastly different, I know one thing is true: we all do the best we know at that given time in life. Highly recommend this to people who are immigrants or brought up by immigrants, anyone interested in Asian-American culture, and readers who appreciate short stories and want a short but meaningful read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sohum

    really more of a 4.5 but really quite an excellent book, filled with fixation and hurt.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tahni

    The writing in this book is absolutely, undeniably beautiful. It is clear and crisp and evocative, and the stories powerful: all entail the cultural tension of immigrant families seeking to shed their histories in order to fit into a new culture and country, and this largely drives the greatest sense of tragedy in most of the stories. This tension is quite often expressed through parent-child relationships, either in the form of children more at home in their new country than their parents which The writing in this book is absolutely, undeniably beautiful. It is clear and crisp and evocative, and the stories powerful: all entail the cultural tension of immigrant families seeking to shed their histories in order to fit into a new culture and country, and this largely drives the greatest sense of tragedy in most of the stories. This tension is quite often expressed through parent-child relationships, either in the form of children more at home in their new country than their parents which feeds resentment or in children who long for the history and context which their parents have denied them in an effort to acclimate. Wound in with this is often included tension between couples, parents once happily married who have increasingly come to simply tolerate each other. In this way, family dynamics and tensions and cultural dissociation become tightly linked and perhaps even inseparable. That said, this seems to be premise of each story contained in this book, with only one or two exceptions. As such, the stories became somewhat repetitive, even where noticeable differences between the narratives can be highlighted. However, I don't think this makes this collection tiresome or bad in any way, I would simply recommend that other readers not read it in the way that I did: all at once in the course of a few days. This collection is perhaps meant to be read slowly over the course of weeks, no two stories read back-to-back. I suspect that reading more slowly, perhaps even switching between books as I read, would have improved my reading experience. It is a very beautiful book, all things considered, and definitely worth a read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    When I first read this book for grad school, I didn't give it much of a chance and, unsurprisingly, I didn't like it. What a difference a few years can make, because I found it a far richer collection of stories this time. A novella and several short stories focus on Chinese families and the lives they lead--or mostly try to escape. There's a lot about family and the chains that bind, and how just because you might be able to physically escape your history, it doesn't mean the history goes away. When I first read this book for grad school, I didn't give it much of a chance and, unsurprisingly, I didn't like it. What a difference a few years can make, because I found it a far richer collection of stories this time. A novella and several short stories focus on Chinese families and the lives they lead--or mostly try to escape. There's a lot about family and the chains that bind, and how just because you might be able to physically escape your history, it doesn't mean the history goes away. Mostly, it won't be ignored, and it continues to shape you for better or worse long after you've done everything you can to erase it. The stories are interesting for their tragic characters, the depth of feeling in all of them, and the bits of Chinese history and culture that are inevitably woven into them. There's not much happiness to be found in the pages, and peace and resignation mostly go hand in hand, but they're definitely worth giving some time and thought to. I'm glad I gave the book a second chance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    The way each story unfolded was amazing, even the littlest details were important. Not much was said in terms of dialogue, but each action counted. I felt it rather than read it. Update (2 weeks later): I keep thinking about this book. It's connected to me somehow, in different ways. My boyfriend is a violinist, although I love hearing him play (unlike in "Hunger") and he's very loving and open, albeit stubborn (as musicians are). So for me, different parts of the story about practicing and the p The way each story unfolded was amazing, even the littlest details were important. Not much was said in terms of dialogue, but each action counted. I felt it rather than read it. Update (2 weeks later): I keep thinking about this book. It's connected to me somehow, in different ways. My boyfriend is a violinist, although I love hearing him play (unlike in "Hunger") and he's very loving and open, albeit stubborn (as musicians are). So for me, different parts of the story about practicing and the position and the not-quite-soundproof room and the calloused fingers are familiar now that I know him. And my mother's family immigrated from Japan, so I understand the language barrier and the disconnect between foreign and American, and not really knowing what side to take because both are a part of you. My mind keep coming back to this book and I want more.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As a Chinese-American girl, I recognized many of the themes in Hunger as relevant and very real. Many of them made me cry - the fading love found in old marriages, the the disappearance of culture in the second generation, language barriers between parents and children, a loss of contact with relatives overseas, shattered hopes, and the notion of failing the American Dream, etc. I loved the colors and temperatures used throughout the first and main story, and how they are used to depict anything As a Chinese-American girl, I recognized many of the themes in Hunger as relevant and very real. Many of them made me cry - the fading love found in old marriages, the the disappearance of culture in the second generation, language barriers between parents and children, a loss of contact with relatives overseas, shattered hopes, and the notion of failing the American Dream, etc. I loved the colors and temperatures used throughout the first and main story, and how they are used to depict anything from passion to the bitterness and loneliness of having nowhere to belong.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    halfway through this book I was like: Have I read this before? I feel like I've read this before. Is she gonna poke a hole in the diaphragm? She's gonna poke ... I've definitely read this before. but it wasn't bad to read again, and I got to re-read and re-gasp at this gem: "As I looked at my daughter’s face, I began to understand that to love another was to be a custodian of that person’s decline—to know this fate, hold onto it, and live." ( 0 h s n a P ) halfway through this book I was like: Have I read this before? I feel like I've read this before. Is she gonna poke a hole in the diaphragm? She's gonna poke ... I've definitely read this before. but it wasn't bad to read again, and I got to re-read and re-gasp at this gem: "As I looked at my daughter’s face, I began to understand that to love another was to be a custodian of that person’s decline—to know this fate, hold onto it, and live." ( 0 h s n a P )

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    "'We're getting old,' she said. 'How will we make the space in our minds for everything we'll need to learn here?' Without a pause, he answered her, 'We will forget.'" Absolutely stunning collection of stories about Chinese/Taiwanese immigrants. While everyone hungers for some bright new future, the past cannot be forgotten -- you can't ever really start over. This collection made me cry more than once, and Chang's prose is like poetry, it is hypnotic. This collection is about family and love, the "'We're getting old,' she said. 'How will we make the space in our minds for everything we'll need to learn here?' Without a pause, he answered her, 'We will forget.'" Absolutely stunning collection of stories about Chinese/Taiwanese immigrants. While everyone hungers for some bright new future, the past cannot be forgotten -- you can't ever really start over. This collection made me cry more than once, and Chang's prose is like poetry, it is hypnotic. This collection is about family and love, the burden of that love and its ghosts (some of them real!). I will be feeling haunted by all these families, with their heartache, trauma, and pain, and their ability to endure it all. "While we weren't watching, the stars had emerged. Their brilliant pinpoints mapped the heavens. They glittered over us, over Waipuo in her room, the house, and the small city we lived in, the great waves of grass that ran for miles around us, the ground beneath as dry and hard as bone."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel S

    Chang puts forth a powerful novella here, one twined so tightly and precisely with metaphor and history, bursting with emotion. The four members of the family act almost as points to a compass, each stabbing out into their own direction, yet forever intersecting as only a family can—sharply.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sdw

    The author’s poetic mastery of language alone makes this work worth reading. She turns words and phrases into scents, smells, and shapes. A critic of Marilynne Robinson once wrote that you wanted to read her work slower and slower because of the beauty of her language. Hunger is the same way. The language in Hunger is more sparse and more crisp than any of Robinson’s works. The author’s style is my favorite thing about this book. The format of the book appears to be one novella (the best work i The author’s poetic mastery of language alone makes this work worth reading. She turns words and phrases into scents, smells, and shapes. A critic of Marilynne Robinson once wrote that you wanted to read her work slower and slower because of the beauty of her language. Hunger is the same way. The language in Hunger is more sparse and more crisp than any of Robinson’s works. The author’s style is my favorite thing about this book. The format of the book appears to be one novella (the best work in the book) followed by a series of short stories. However, the work is really a retelling of the same story from multiple perspectives. The gender of the characters change, their economic circumstances, their location, etc but the general gist of the stories remain the same. Before I figured out the key change in perspective, I was getting bored by the repetition. It is this sense of changing perspectives that gives meaning to the order the stories were in. The second to the last story was my second favorite. My major criticism of the stories was the plots -- Or rather key elements of the plots. Almost every family has some sort of genius in their child (math, music, literature) and too many of the children go to Columbia, NYU, Harvard, to pursue their Phds. Too many of the fathers cared too much for their own failures and not enough for their children. There was also something I just couldn’t place my finger on that made it feel like “Chineseness” was being commodified and exotified and the author was trying to use it to sell her stories – except it was actually weakening them. I never ask for anything to be more “universal.” But in a set of works trying to show all perspectives – teenage angst and fighting with one’s parents can not be reduced to a lack of language skills and a failure to communicate the immigrant experience. That is, adolescent rebellion should not be portrayed as if it emerges almost solely from the hardships of immigration. Certainly such experiences could work in concert with teenage angst to highlight one another (and occasionally communication issues from the mother’s perspective work this way), but overall there was something about the way the author employed ethnicity in the work that made me uneasy. Again, maybe it was this every working class Chinese pair of parents end up with brilliant children who because of their brilliance do make it in America despite their impoverished backgrounds (emotionally and materially according to the text). This is not a myth of the American dream that fully reflects reality. There were beautiful moments in the story. The novella really drew me in – and in all honesty, short stories usually have to have a twist of plot to make me care – there aren’t enough pages for me to be seduced by the characters themselves. And the stories do include many of the wonderful intricacies of family dynamics, desire, and hunger.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Clay Whisler

    I always find it difficult to review short story collections. How does one critique a grouping of stories, each with their own plots, characters, and even voices? What's a reader to say when the final piece in a collection moves them entirely while others felt less moving? How does the five star story equal out the three star story? These are all questions that present themselves when I read collections like Lan Samantha Chang's. Of course, Chang's prose is carefully wrought and entirely literar I always find it difficult to review short story collections. How does one critique a grouping of stories, each with their own plots, characters, and even voices? What's a reader to say when the final piece in a collection moves them entirely while others felt less moving? How does the five star story equal out the three star story? These are all questions that present themselves when I read collections like Lan Samantha Chang's. Of course, Chang's prose is carefully wrought and entirely literary. After all, she's the head of The Iowa Writers' Workshop. There's a thread of lost love strewn throughout her narratives, especially of love lost between parents and siblings. The themes in "Hunger" are undoubtedly important to propagate in the stead of an ethnocentric American culture. Chang renders the experience of losing one's heritage, one's cultural identity in a number of the stories. Her knowledge of Chinese history is equally impressive, as seen in the brilliant final piece, "Pipa's Story." Other pieces, the novella for instance, failed to draw me in as much. The characters within it were difficult to like or even hate to like. I highly recommend two stories in this book more than the rest. The first, "The Unforgetting," takes place in rural Iowa, and centers around a young Chinese family. To succeed in America, they must forget everything Chinese, forget their homes. The scene painting is wonderful, and I'm partial to the story for its sense of regionalism, and the comparisons it draws between Iowan and Chinese regionalism. One of the characters states at a heartbreaking moment, "This place has nothing to do with us" (134). This story would've been well suited for a class on multiculturalism, especially in Iowa. I recommend English teachers give it a read. The second story, "Pipa's Story" felt like a fable. I felt like a child, transported to a magical world where the rules of modern medicine and science don't yet apply. This piece takes place in China, just before Mao's army reaches Shanghai. It follows Pipa, a young girl who leaves her secluded village among the mountain ranges to pursue a servanthood with a wealthy Chinese businessman in Shanghai. There she's confronted with understanding politics, death, and growing up for the first time. It's a brilliant piece, and I'd recommend reading it individually instead of working through the whole book before arriving to it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    cassberrie

    4.5/5 stars. Wow. See, I usually stay away from books like this because without a doubt, stories like these cause me so much heartache. It hits especially hard because I am a second generation Chinese-American, and I have so much respect for my parents who left their home to take their chances living in a foreign land, to learn a foreign tongue and a foreign culture. In reading "Hunger" I felt such nagging anxiety, thanks to Chang's exquisite detailing the slow breaking of this family. Her writing 4.5/5 stars. Wow. See, I usually stay away from books like this because without a doubt, stories like these cause me so much heartache. It hits especially hard because I am a second generation Chinese-American, and I have so much respect for my parents who left their home to take their chances living in a foreign land, to learn a foreign tongue and a foreign culture. In reading "Hunger" I felt such nagging anxiety, thanks to Chang's exquisite detailing the slow breaking of this family. Her writing is exceptionally poignant and honest, and her characters have depth that belies their complexity as real human beings. There were times when I might have despised a character's actions, but never could I ever hate them because I could see their hurting so sharply. At one point, I started crying. Chang has played my emotions like a seasoned musician. While I would say that "Hunger," the main story in this collection, has the most fleshed-out story and characters, "The Unforgetting" really struck a chord with me. It is a simpler story, but the way it details the slow loss of one's roots and the sacrifices that a parent is willing to make for his/her child are delineated with such heartbreak. I found myself feeling for Ming and Sansan, while also having great empathy for Charles, their son, who is caught in the storm of his parents' own internal struggles. A book that deserves to be savored, I highly encourage that everyone pick up Hunger, especially if you are Chinese-American.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Ou

    Written by the same author as "Inheritance", I found that "Hunger" is less cohesive because it has a series of seven stories, that don't have much to do with each other. Nonetheless, this book is one of the few, that gives a voice to Taiwanese people, if not Taiwanese-Americans. I especially enjoyed the first story in the book, called "Hunger". It highlights the hardships that one must endure to follow a dream, but then fail miserably when things don't work out. One of the characters, Tian, follow Written by the same author as "Inheritance", I found that "Hunger" is less cohesive because it has a series of seven stories, that don't have much to do with each other. Nonetheless, this book is one of the few, that gives a voice to Taiwanese people, if not Taiwanese-Americans. I especially enjoyed the first story in the book, called "Hunger". It highlights the hardships that one must endure to follow a dream, but then fail miserably when things don't work out. One of the characters, Tian, follows his dream of getting a master's degree, with the hope that he will gain tenure in music. His dream is shattered though, because of a scandal that takes place, and he is left struggling to support his family. Reading this book also made me hungry, no relationship to the title. In the story, "Pipa's Story", there is an elaborate meal that takes place. Dishes include, duck skins, jellied duck eggs, pigeon eggs in sauce, and chicken and scallops. And of course, there is shrimps with chicken and peas, that I'm planning to make. I mean, sautéed shrimps, chicken, and peas can't be that hard to make. Anyway, the book leaves you wanting more, because the characters want more. There is a feeling of emptiness, and lack of closure, that ties the stories together, at the end of the day.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Reading this directly after A free life was absolutely stunning. While Ha Jin's characters cope with assimilation by becoming quietly disillusioned, Chang's characters become almost violent with their regret. I almost wish I read Chang's book first; it may have added more towards the sympathy I felt for Nan (in A free life) and taken away some of the frustration I felt as he wondered through the novel. Back to Hunger. Each story is carefully positioned in the collection, building a picture of the Reading this directly after A free life was absolutely stunning. While Ha Jin's characters cope with assimilation by becoming quietly disillusioned, Chang's characters become almost violent with their regret. I almost wish I read Chang's book first; it may have added more towards the sympathy I felt for Nan (in A free life) and taken away some of the frustration I felt as he wondered through the novel. Back to Hunger. Each story is carefully positioned in the collection, building a picture of the world as Chang sees it. The most striking quality of her writing is her use of sparse language. With very little effort she is able to conjure sounds, smells, and visual cues I was unaware I had a strong association to. Further, after putting down each story, Chang's voice followed me through my day. What a beautiful gift.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    Chang's writing is comfortable and easy, like sitting down with a relative for a long chat, in this case a long chat about what it was like to grow up in New York as an immigrant. The unsuccessful struggle of Min's husband Tian to fight against unspoken racism to become more than a waiter. The struggle for Min to want her daughters to succeed in this English-speaking world without losing her own ability to understand them. The struggle of finding a way to call anyplace "home." I savored every pa Chang's writing is comfortable and easy, like sitting down with a relative for a long chat, in this case a long chat about what it was like to grow up in New York as an immigrant. The unsuccessful struggle of Min's husband Tian to fight against unspoken racism to become more than a waiter. The struggle for Min to want her daughters to succeed in this English-speaking world without losing her own ability to understand them. The struggle of finding a way to call anyplace "home." I savored every page....until I got to the last third of the book. It took me several chapters to realize that the novella had already ended and I was now in the head of a different immigrant (five short stories are tacked onto the end of the novella.) A bit disconcerting, especially as I hated to leave Min's story behind.

  23. 5 out of 5

    MariaElena Gutierrez

    What i thought about the book was it was interesting to read. In the book, the dad had temper issues and got voilent very easily. The mom and daughters were very scared of him and did what ever to try to not get him angry. In one point in the story, the dad got mad at the mom and daughter in a restaurant and was grasping on to the daughters arm very tight, not letting her go. This made the book interesting to read becuase it made the reader very enthusiastic and wanting to keep on reading. In h What i thought about the book was it was interesting to read. In the book, the dad had temper issues and got voilent very easily. The mom and daughters were very scared of him and did what ever to try to not get him angry. In one point in the story, the dad got mad at the mom and daughter in a restaurant and was grasping on to the daughters arm very tight, not letting her go. This made the book interesting to read becuase it made the reader very enthusiastic and wanting to keep on reading. In hunger, it had all of what i like in a story which is having mistery and a secret behind the whole thing. Hunger had created a secret by showing at the end that the whole time, the mom was a ghost and was using her daughter to do things for her. Overall, i would reccommend this book to readers because at the end it was worth waiting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isaias Jr

    This is another book I enjoyed reading It really talks about what Lan and her daughters had to suffer from hunger(witch is also the books title) and also for not really knowing how to speak English. It must of been really hard with Tian and Ruth fighting all the time. This book really expresses Lan Samantha Changs's emotions. So I would say that this book is kind of a Novel. It must of been really hard to be hearing arguments everyday in the house. Also that you couldn't go To your home place Ta This is another book I enjoyed reading It really talks about what Lan and her daughters had to suffer from hunger(witch is also the books title) and also for not really knowing how to speak English. It must of been really hard with Tian and Ruth fighting all the time. This book really expresses Lan Samantha Changs's emotions. So I would say that this book is kind of a Novel. It must of been really hard to be hearing arguments everyday in the house. Also that you couldn't go To your home place Taiwan to see your mom or go see your family or even knowing that all this time you have been married to the wrong person . There were many sad events in this book or at least that is what I think. This was a good book and I recommend it to people that want to read about Drama, Sadness or maybe just for fun.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Passages: “Haven't we all, as time continues, found that we must be kind to ourselves and listen to our thoughts, because fewer and fewer of those remain who know what is most real to us?” “It's because of the way you are. It's why you're happy reading novels. You're only comfortable with a piece of the world that you can hold in your hand.” p135: “They forgot what they could no longer bear to hope for.” p151: “He had no one to ask - no friends, no parents - no one who could have understood the lan Passages: “Haven't we all, as time continues, found that we must be kind to ourselves and listen to our thoughts, because fewer and fewer of those remain who know what is most real to us?” “It's because of the way you are. It's why you're happy reading novels. You're only comfortable with a piece of the world that you can hold in your hand.” p135: “They forgot what they could no longer bear to hope for.” p151: “He had no one to ask - no friends, no parents - no one who could have understood the language of this thoughts. p 153: “Nothing remained of the stories and meals and people they’d known, nothing but what they remembered. Their world lived in them, and they would be the end of it. They had no solace, and no burden, but each other.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Walter

    Wonderful stories, especially those about ghosts (social ghosts, that is), like "The Unforgetting" and "Pipa's Story." Lan Samantha Chang composes wonderful lines throughout, such as "As I looked at my daughter's face, I began to understand that to love another was to be a custodian of that person's decline -- to know this fate, hold onto it, and live" (p. 57). I've got to get a hold of her novel Inheritance. Wonderful stories, especially those about ghosts (social ghosts, that is), like "The Unforgetting" and "Pipa's Story." Lan Samantha Chang composes wonderful lines throughout, such as "As I looked at my daughter's face, I began to understand that to love another was to be a custodian of that person's decline -- to know this fate, hold onto it, and live" (p. 57). I've got to get a hold of her novel Inheritance.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Donnell

    A novella and few short stories, all based on different immigrants from China, as they settle in America. Their struggles with acceptance of American values and culture, while sadly feeling their own slip away, but all with a "hunger" for more or better for future generations. What affected me most is how one can easily substitute the Chinese refugees in these stories with any immigrant that came to America during the last century be it Irish, Polish, Vietnamese, or Iraqi. Their struggles with c A novella and few short stories, all based on different immigrants from China, as they settle in America. Their struggles with acceptance of American values and culture, while sadly feeling their own slip away, but all with a "hunger" for more or better for future generations. What affected me most is how one can easily substitute the Chinese refugees in these stories with any immigrant that came to America during the last century be it Irish, Polish, Vietnamese, or Iraqi. Their struggles with culture identity, bigotry, loss, and eventual acceptance of their new lives, created characters so haunting that they will be hard to forget.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    The title novella is so fabulous I was a bit disappointed when it ended and I was being guided through the lives of other characters. That being said, the stories that follow poignantly capture the challenges faced by those constantly pulled between two cultures, either Chinese and American or old and new. Chang continually demonstrates her ability to develop very complex characters in very few words. Only complaint comes in the form of the author's either lack of explanation or lack of attentio The title novella is so fabulous I was a bit disappointed when it ended and I was being guided through the lives of other characters. That being said, the stories that follow poignantly capture the challenges faced by those constantly pulled between two cultures, either Chinese and American or old and new. Chang continually demonstrates her ability to develop very complex characters in very few words. Only complaint comes in the form of the author's either lack of explanation or lack of attention to detail ... Page 175 has an article discarded and page 188 has an item make an unexplained reappearance. Made me a bit perturbed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rubi

    I am only rating this 5 because of the very first story in the book, the self-titled Hunger. I had to stop reading it halfway through because a) it was making me cry; b) it was so beautiful and moving I wanted to prolong my enjoyment of reading it. That sounds sappy but it's true. Her language is so precise, and her portrayal of the silent love and bitterness that binds families together is remarkable. Eventually, I had to finish reading it, but that hasn't stopped me from re-reading that story I am only rating this 5 because of the very first story in the book, the self-titled Hunger. I had to stop reading it halfway through because a) it was making me cry; b) it was so beautiful and moving I wanted to prolong my enjoyment of reading it. That sounds sappy but it's true. Her language is so precise, and her portrayal of the silent love and bitterness that binds families together is remarkable. Eventually, I had to finish reading it, but that hasn't stopped me from re-reading that story again and again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cole Jack

    The themes of family alienation within this book often hit far too close to home for me personally. This book was well-written, intriguing, and an interesting study into American-Chinese culture, but it is not what I would necessarily pick up for a recreational read. Chang's writing is superb and I cannot wait to hear her in the round-table discussion at Stanford to hear more about her thought-process behing writing the novella and short stories. Of all of the stories I found the final one the m The themes of family alienation within this book often hit far too close to home for me personally. This book was well-written, intriguing, and an interesting study into American-Chinese culture, but it is not what I would necessarily pick up for a recreational read. Chang's writing is superb and I cannot wait to hear her in the round-table discussion at Stanford to hear more about her thought-process behing writing the novella and short stories. Of all of the stories I found the final one the most fascinating.

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