Bitter Melon: Stories from the Last Rural Chinese Town in America

Jeff Gillenkirk, Author University of Washington Press $0 (1p) ISBN 978-0-295-96500-0
In their own words, the mostly elderly residents of formerly all-Chinese Locke, Calif., tell their life stories. Situated in the fertile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Locke is the lone survivor of what was once a range of Chinese towns along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountain statesmost of which were destroyed at various times by Caucasian rioters. The well-researched introduction gives compelling information about Chinese-American history. Many readers will be surprised to learn that not only the West's railroad system, but also much of its agriculture, was made possible through the low-paid labor of Chinese men. Even more shocking, in this year of celebration of the Constitution, is the list of anti-Chinese laws enacted, some of which bear an eerie resemblance to the anti-Jewish ones of Hitler's Germany. Motlow's black-and-white photographs capture his subjects' steadfast dignity as well as the soft light of the delta region. (January)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Paperback - 142 pages - 978-0-295-96562-8
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