A Long Stay in a Distant Land

Chieh Chieng, Author, James Yaegashi, Read by . Blackstone Audiobooks $29.95 (
unabridged, six CDs, 6.5 hrs., $29.95 ISBN) ISBN 0-7861-2912-3

Narrator Yaegashi tackles with relish the male voices in this multigenerational comic novel about a luckless Chinese-American family's adventures in the New World, adopting vocal personae both gruff and high-pitched, adult and adolescent, silly and sincere. It is the female voices that trip him up; the book's mother character, desperately protective of her sons, sounds like nothing so much as a slightly soused female impersonator. Nonetheless, Yaegashi keeps it simple, mostly sticking to the background and allowing Cheng's heartfelt, wisecracking prose to take center stage. He ably adapts to the humorous cadences of the book's dialogue, giving each of the major characters easily identifiable voices without resorting to ethnic stereotyping. This is most evident in the case of Melvin, the good-natured but dull-witted father, to whom he appropriately gives a surfer's laid-back drawl. The book bounces from parents to children, and from California's Orange County to Hong Kong, covering a wide swath in time and space, but Yaegashi's reading gives the story a uniformly polished, enjoyable feel. Simultaneous release with the Bloomsbury hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 28). (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/02/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Audio
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