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Stories from a second home

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

The Celestials
By Karen Shepard
Tin House Books, 2013

In June 1870, Calvin Sampson hired 75 Chinese laborers in North Adams, Mass. to work at his factory. What the men didn’t know was that they were strikebreakers, or part of what Sampson called his “Chinese experiment.”

The influx of newcomers — so different from the locals — has an effect on all who live in the small New England town. Most are friendly, merely curious to learn about the foreigners, but others are not so welcoming and are threatened by the Chinese’s presence — especially the factory workers who went on strike. For others still, the relationships they share with their new neighbors run deeper.

And when Sampson’s wife Julia returns from a long trip away with a half-Chinese baby girl, all of North Adams wants nothing more than to know who the father is.

“The Celestials” combines history with fiction and shows readers how some of the first Chinese immigrants to the United States were treated. Despite most of the North Adams community’s friendliness, it is plain to see they don’t view the Chinese men as their equals. Rather, they are viewed more as children who need to be taken care of. (Granted, many of them are teenagers.)

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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