THREE local expat authors recently shared their books with readers in Shenzhen at an event sponsored by the Shenzhen Women’s International Club (SWIC) and the SWIC Book Club. Amanda Roberts, author of “Crazy Dumplings Cookbook,” Lom Harshni Chauhan, author of “Visa, Stickers and Other Matters of the Soul,” and Ray Hecht, author of “South China Morning Blues,” shared their experiences in China and the stories behind their books.
All of the books are available on Amazon.
Eat — ‘The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook’
Roberts moved to China from the United States in 2010 and ended up in northern rural Hunan. “Life there was so much different than life here in Shenzhen,” she explained. “I had to completely relearn how to cook.” Her book “Crazy Dumplings” is a food fusion cookbook, one that uses a traditional Chinese dumpling wrapper on the outside, but the filling recipes mimic cuisines from all over the world.
“You can make any food you love and miss by using local ingredients, you just have to be flexible and adaptable and not afraid of trying new things,” Roberts said.
About the book
Dumplings. Wontons. Jiaozi. This remarkably simple food is found throughout Asia and in Chinese restaurants and kitchens around the world, but have you ever filled a dumpling wrapper with chicken? Lobster? North American Plains Bison? Hardly anyone has! “The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook” features over 100 recipes with some of the craziest and most delicious dumpling filling recipes you will ever see. From Chicken Taquito Dumplings to Timey-Wimey Dumplings to a dumpling for your dog, “Crazy Dumplings” will show you all the crazy things you can stuff into a dumpling wrapper for an easy meal or snack.
Pray — ‘Visa, Stickers and Other Matters of the Soul’
Chauhan moved to China from northern India in 2002. In 2005, her daughter was born, and Chauhan was faced with the question all parents abroad face — how do you parent your child with a connection to their homeland and encourage them to embrace their adoptive country?
Chauhan explained that she grew up in a proud Rajput family and often remembered her life growing up in the Himalayas. However, her daughter does not have the luxury of knowing her place in the world. “I wondered, how much reinforcement of her cultural identity is adequate for a child who is growing up far from any of those concepts?” Chauhan explained.
Chauhan focuses a lot on the spiritual rearing of her daughter, something that is not easy to do in a place with such a small Hindu population. All parents of “third culture kids” can relate to Chauhan’s book.
About the book
One of the major concerns of Indian parents is how best to pass on to their children the time-honored traditions of Indian culture and spirituality, even as they try to raise global citizens.
“Visa, Stickers and Other Matters of the Soul” is a delightful and endearing account of a young mother’s experiments with raising her daughter in the Indian spiritual way while living in atheist China. As she begins to educate her daughter, she is surprised by her daughter’s sense of understanding and realizes that parenting is her biggest life lesson, with her daughter as her teacher.
Love – ‘South China Morning Blues’
Hecht moved to China in 2008 and has spent most of his time in the Pearl River Delta area. His book “South China Morning Blues” explores the seedier side of millennials living in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
“Even though Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are so close together, they are all very different,” Hecht explained. The book is broken up into 12 points of view, loosely following the 12 characters of the Chinese zodiac, as each person, expats and locals, navigate life and love in the fastest changing part of China.
“Even though none of these characters are ‘me,’” Hecht explained, “I think all writing is informed by the author’s experiences.”
About the book
There’s no place on Earth quite like it. From Guangzhou to Hong Kong, the booming megalopolis of the Pearl River Delta has endless stories to tell.
“South China Morning Blues” is filled with these tales of the postmodern East: depraved, rapidly changing, and never boring.
Just what kinds of characters find themselves in 21st-century China? There’s Marco, a crooked businessman with a penchant for call girls; Danny, a culture-shocked young traveler; Sheila, a local club girl caught up in family politics; Amber, a drug-fueled aspiring model; Terry, an alcoholic journalist; and Ting Ting, a lovable artist with a chip on her shoulder.
Their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, as they delve deeper into their surroundings and in the process learn more about themselves.
China may be leading the world into the future, but its inhabitants are going to have to make sense of the present if that future is ever going to arrive.