Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu came to my attention a while back when TCM broadcast the movie by the same name. Published in 1961 by a Chinese-American, the story tells a history I was previously unaware of and I decided to read the book to learn more about it.
The novel is about Chinese-American men living in Chinatown in NYC after WWII. At the time, immigration laws did not allow Chinese men who had come to this country earlier to send for the wives and families they had left behind in China. This left a large population of married Chinese men in the U.S. to live alone, separated from their loved ones back home.
This story is about two such men who decide to play matchmaker for their children. One man’s son is an ex-serviceman in the U.S. and the other’s, a daughter living in China. When the son brings his new wife home with him, he becomes impotent. His young wife becomes involved with another man and news of their affair spreads like wildfire in the close-knit Chinese community. Not knowing the whole truth, the matchmaking fathers and community decide to take matters into their own hands.
I thought the story was well written and learned more about Chinese culture and history. It was enlightening. I am grateful to the author for telling the story and to TCM for bringing it to my attention.