Book Review: Tiger Tail Soup

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Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen is a historical novel of the Pacific War, from the point of view of a Chinese woman. Author Nicki Chen is an American who gained a Chinese surname by way of marriage, and any reader will fully sense her fascination with China. She has done the proper research for such a novel. She takes the voice of An Lee, a strong-willed woman who gets left behind to raise children and live with her mother-in-law when her husband goes off to war.

The novel opens in 1946, then jumps back to 1938 and slowly goes through the war years until the epilogue rounds out back to the original year. Full of fanciful language and observations on gender roles in traditional societies – from the Qing Dynasty to the Republic era – and conflicts start off with simple things like getting a perm to look modern and soon grow to horrifying proportions.

Basically, the narrative takes place within the mind of the introspective narrator. Early on, darkness looms from afar. She carries a son in the Year of the Tiger, and is given fortunes of greatness. Then her engineer husband Yu-ming is conscripted as an officer, and most of the novel is about what happens to the war-weary women who are left behind.

At times, the narrator gets too lost in her own thoughts, endlessly reflecting and repeating herself as she dwells on her family and lot in life. The flow suffers for it, but that is the nature of this kind of story.

When the bombs begin to drop, the tone changes dramatically. The violence becomes very real, and that is of course the nature of war.

The chapters of the book are divided into seasons and year, and tales of pregnancy and childbirths and contrasted against the distant war. Themes of life and death. A son is born, a father seldom seen. There are attempts to let life go on, as schools remain open. An Lee’s husband’s letters are very important, describing being in the midst of the war. Yet overall it’s still a tale of women. And the emotions always outweigh any action. Time moves on and children age, with snippets of tragedy throughout. Some of the most powerful imagery in the novel concerns simply going to the beach and seeing Japanese battleships. And the suffering grows.

Tiger Tail Soup is not an objective overview of the war, but simply one deep character’s perspective. The hatred against the Japanese even seems one-sided, although in this context it is certainly well-deserved. The reader must remember that it is first-person narrated novel, not a textbook.

The historical aspect stays interesting as the book goes on, with references that range from the Gone With the Wind film to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Halfway through the plot does thicken, and An Lee joins a resistance league which engages in street theater performances. There are arguments, politics, more conflict. When she does finally meet her husband again, and one son meets for the first time, war has changed and hardened the man. Hardened everyone.

Bringing another child into this war-torn world proves to be the greatest tragedy of all in the end. When the worst most possible violence happens near the end of the novel, it is very jarring.

The theme above all is survival, and is best summed up this quote: “It was my fate to live in a time of war, and I bloody well was going to be one of the survivors.”

Tiger Tail Soup comes recommended for readers interested in this period of China, and for anyone who might wish to learn about the human cost of war. Available on Amazon.

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Author Interview – Ray Hecht

Rachel Carrera, Novelist

We are definitely not at a loss for talent today, folks!  A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received.  (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.)  I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted.  My friend and fellow-blogger, Ray Hecht, had some wonderful responses which I’m sure you will find as fascinating as I did.  When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to his blog and make sure you follow him for more pleasurable tales.  And now, I present to you, Ray Hecht… 

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ABOUT YOU::

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

Hi I’m Ray Hecht, I’m an American writer of…

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The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel – Smashwords Edition

Behold, after careful editing comes a new edition of my historical novella — The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel. Now live on the eBook website Smashwords.

 

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/464248

Although the KDP version is already available for Amazon’s Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JJUXZFE – an advantage with Smashwords is that there are multiple formats: EPUB, MOBI, PDFs, and more. It can also be read online. Do check out the preview on the site.

If anyone would be interested in writing a review, I’d be happy to send a free copy. And I’d surely help out other writers in this regard, know what I mean. The usual deal.

Most of all, I simply hope a few people out there will enjoy read this story and get something out of it…

 

Synopsis:

1911, Canton. It is the eve of the historic Hsinsai Revolution, when China shifted from the Qing Dynasty to the short-lived Republic. Asia is overrun with foreign businessmen of questionable character. Political upheaval is on everyone’s mind. The country’s economic future is uncertain.

And there was a girl who witnessed it all.

She had many names, Ling Yoo, Ling Ling, Little Sister, and Alice. She was a girl from a simple background, toiling away in the world’s oldest profession, but ambitious, and she worked hard to educate herself. A little person stumbling through history, observing from the sidelines. Her story should have been lost forever.

Torn between love for her homeland and the love of a wealthy British merchant, how can she remain true to herself and find her destiny?

And there is a ghost. A shadow of a figure follows her and her decisions, questioning her every step. Is it a warning… or a vision?

My historical novella, now on KDP

I wrote this historical novella a number of years back, and it has recently been edited and polished up a bit and I’d like to share. The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel, now available as an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Not truly a ghost story, it is my humble literary take on the reflections modern world has with the classical eras we tend to needlessly romanticize. If you are intrigued and would like to read more, just ask and I’ll be happy to email you a complimentary copy.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JJUXZFE

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