The Librarian is in




Within the last five years, how many works of literature have you read by Asian American authors? Okay, the last 10 years? You’ve already proven my point. If you can name more than two, please come to the Research Desk and claim your free bookmark. I am embarrassed by how few works I’ve cherished/encountered/spent time with/consumed by Asian Americans — not only within the last year but in life. So my approach to Eddie Huang’s work, the same that inspired the television series, was quite an intentional one. The work delivered — and more than I could imagine. 

Huang’s back story is extraordinary. There’s so much narrative wrapped inside him. He is a restaurant owner, a law school graduate, a felon, a former drug dealer, a first generation son of Taiwanese/Chinese parents, a die-hard hip-hop and basketball fan, a bilingual, an international traveler, a salesman, a comedian, a foodie and, of course, a writer. His memoir takes readers on a ~27-year journey in which he tries to fit into a society that is rather bent on rejecting him. On his path, readers encounter the foods that accompanied him on his journey from childhood to adulthood, as the work, too, is a culinary adventure. 

There is also a strong infusion of music. From a very young age, Huang adored hip hop, its verses and its messages, yet it was his arrival on a college campus that introduced him to formulaic deconstructions of rhetoric combined with exposure to black feminist thought that made him a writer. Navigating college campus culture was a dangerous roller coaster for him, but he found mentors who believed in him and he made it out alive. I’d recommend this work to hip-hop heads, any college student who finds college ill-fitting and to those who adore food cultures.

For similar works, see MK Asante’s “Buck: A Memoir” or Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”