Moon Cakes

Andrea Louie, Author One World $21 (332p) ISBN 978-0-345-38554-3
Louie's emotionally resonant first novel, about a Chinese-American woman's journey to the land of her ancestors and into her own past, is told in haunting prose but lacks a fully developed narrative. Maya Li, who's in her 20s, is traveling through China on a six-week package tour, a spur-of-the-moment trip undertaken more to escape her dead-end life in New York City than in response to any particular attraction to China. Yet Maya's insulated, monument-hopping vacation prompts an internal exploration of her own inner geography as she excavates and examines her Ohio upbringing and later years. Her beloved father's sudden death when she is 11 leaves young Maggie (who will later change her name to Maya) to grow up with an emotionally cold mother and an ambitious, selfish older sister. The wrenching end to a college love affair strips her of direction, leading her to drift through four numb years in New York. Louie attempts to mirror Maya's personal losses in the unresolved cultural losses suffered by immigrants in America, but the connection is never made with significant narrative impact. Still, with the ability to write stately, beautifully dignified prose, and with her insightful grasp on ethnicity in America, Louie could be a compelling novelist--if only she would hone her storytelling techniques. 35,000 first printing. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-517-19847-6
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