Number One Chinese Restaurant

Lillian Li. Holt, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-14129-3
With echoes of Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster, Li’s insightful debut takes readers behind the scenes of a Chinese restaurant, the Beijing Duck House, in Rockville, Md. Jimmy Han, son of the restaurant’s deceased original owner, runs the business but is trying to sell it to transition to a more upscale venue, the Beijing Glory, an Asian fusion restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront. Jimmy and his older brother, Johnny, have had a running argument about the direction of the Duck House—Johnny wants the restaurant to remain traditional—since the death of their father. Their manager, Nan, and Ah-Jack, a waiter, have been friends for 30 years but lately have become romantically involved. Meanwhile, Nan’s troubled 17-year-old son, Pat, a dishwasher, and Johnny’s disaffected daughter, Annie, a hostess, have been having not-so-secret sex in the storage closet. And hovering over all of them is Uncle Pang, a mysterious, nine-fingered godfather who might hold the key to their futures. Despite the novel’s leisurely plotting, Li vividly depicts the lives of her characters and gives the narrative a few satisfying turns, resulting in a memorable debut. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 06/19/2018
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-250-14130-9
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-22932-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-30713-2
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