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Mother, she wrote: Overseas Chinese writers break with tradition

Overseas Chinese writers break with tradition and take on genres such as humour

Published on Apr 8, 2014 1:14 PM

This is a banner year for women authors from the Chinese diaspora who write in English, with publishers promoting more new writers, some of whom explore genres beyond the usual memoirs or historical fiction.

In end-February, Random House published award-winning Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li's latest novel, Kinder Than Solitude. Ostensibly a murder mystery, it presented contrasting views of Beijing, from the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests to the economic powerhouse of present-day China.

On April 22, the Penguin Group will publish a humorous memoir to rival Yale professor Amy Chua's best-selling and controversial 2011 parenting book, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother. This is Canadian gossip blogger Elaine Lui's debut, Listen To The Squawking Chicken, a tribute to her Hong Kong-born mother's parenting style.

Another notable debut is historical fantasy Three Souls by Taiwan-born Canadian writer Janie Chang. Published last month by HarperCollins, it unites traditional Chinese beliefs about the afterlife with a feminist view of life during China's 1920s civil war.

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Background story

"The reason  I wrote the book was as a tribute to my mother.  If readers turn the last page and say: 'Wow, Elaine Lui adores her mother, she was the great love of her life', that would be nice." 

Elaine Lui on writing  Listen To  The Squawking  Chicken