13 May 2009

9. Everything Asian

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ACCULTURATION is the “cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.” Having studied Cultural Anthropology in my college career, I remember that full acculturation is often easier for younger children than adults and that learning the language is paramount to this process. Even so, definitions and lectures cannot take the place of actual experiences. While I do not know David Kim, his sister, parents, or friends, I can certainly feel their pangs of growth in this process of acculturation in Sung J. Woo’s debut novel Everything Asian. Perhaps this is because the author experienced many of these pangs himself learning English as a Second Language after moving to the United States from South Korea at the age of 10. His past realities have given life to Everything Asian. Visit the author’s web page to learn more about Sung J. Woo.

Everything Asian begins with young David Kim describing his new life in America and his life within his family. It seems that no one is happy, but that may be from David’s perspective. Gradually we learn that mom and dad are too busy running their store to be too excited about anything else and sister is still mad because she had to move away from Korea. In a well crafted novel-in-stories, we get varied perspectives on what it is like to learn a whole new set of cultural norms, to learn a new language (or not), and to struggle to get by in a new place. The sense of family and growth expands beyond the small Korean family at the center of the novel and includes an eclectic group of people working in Peddler’s Town, the small strip mall where the family business is located. Many of the individual stories are quite funny and linking them together makes for a sweet and gentle glimpse of who we are and how we come to be!

I am very grateful to St. Martin’s Press and LibraryThing for providing me with the Advanced Reading Copy.

TITLE: Everything Asian
AUTHOR: Sung Woo
PAGES: 328
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I recommend this book to readers who like coming of age stories, especially those with a cultural twist.

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