Read Eating Chinese Food Naked by Mei Ng Online


This poignant debut novel of Ng explores complexity of a mother-daughter relationship in two generations of an immigrant family and Ruby, the daughter's not-so-easy awakening as the young, gifted, female, sexually confused and hyphenated as Asian descent in the urban set of NYC and its suburb, Queens. Ruby's self-realization goes amiss when she reluctantly comes back to thThis poignant debut novel of Ng explores complexity of a mother-daughter relationship in two generations of an immigrant family and Ruby, the daughter's not-so-easy awakening as the young, gifted, female, sexually confused and hyphenated as Asian descent in the urban set of NYC and its suburb, Queens. Ruby's self-realization goes amiss when she reluctantly comes back to the tiny room above her immigrant parents' laundry business after finishing her fancy degree in women's studies from Ivy League, just an hour away by train, which now feels like a lifetime ago. The journey Ruby sets out for is to find answers to all questions nobody helps to resolve-- loving yet powerless mother, domineering and good old misogynist father, unambitious and volatile brother, locally settled and church going sister or her non-committal and callous Caucasian boyfriend-- but herself, whether above her parents' laundromat, in her boyfriend's apartment or in a temping job until she finds her own room someday....

Title : Eating Chinese Food Naked
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671011451
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Eating Chinese Food Naked Reviews

  • Vicky
    2019-01-12 01:18

    THANK YOU, Mei Ng, for writing this novel about Ruby Lee, 22, who graduates from college and moves back in with her parents in Queens, NY, with only $124 in her bank account, thinking of her mother-father-daughter relationship, working as a temporary secretary, gazing into bakery shop windows, feeling critical, feeling restless, always longing for something to happen. I wish I knew about this book three years ago when I was in the same position, but actually, I might still be in that position, so everything resonates. Too deeply.Eating Chinese Food Naked ('98) was published a year after Catherine Liu's Oriental Girls Desire Romance ('97). Both stories are similar: Chinese-American women in their 20s who graduated from prestigous schools, kind of wandering in New York, sort of similar re: opening themselves up to sex, un/happiness. Thinking of being Chinese, family dynamics. I had to adjust to Mei Ng telling this story in the 3rd-person omniscient, though, whereas Catherine Liu uses the 1st-person in a way that I like, very much a record of my internal monologue, but Mei Ng enters into everyone's mind where I'm skeptical of whether it's true, or she's "projecting."Bell, Ruby's mom, is a seamstress. Franklin, her dad, does laundry. They didn't marry out of love ("Chinese people don't believe in love," her mother said), and eventually with their children out of the house, they moved into separate bedrooms, and this bothers Ruby, who also thinks of how she's never seen her parents kiss hello or goodbye and links this to her growing up without physical affection, like when she's in school, "she pretended she had touched people all her life, but her lingering gave herself away," and then once she knew what it was like, she wanted it all the time! I totally understood this part. I remember lying awake in bed, in 7th grade, listening to Savage Garden's "To the Moon & Back" when they sing, "Mama never loved her much andDaddy never keeps in touch / That's why she shies away from human affection", LOL, dramatically believing, "It's all my parents' fault that I'm incapable of showing affection."> > > also relateable: Ruby's discomfort when her mom holds her hand, which is soft and makes her think of women, who she wants to be with, but is afraid. Ruby has a chance to kiss a girl, Hazel, at this party, but she pretends she has to go say hi to other people and leaves, regretting it, I think. My margin comment: "Nooooooo"LOVE CAN BE SHOWN IN OTHER WAYS- Giving someone the better piece of chicken- When her mom sews "alligator shirts" (Lacrosse polos?) at her job and thinks her husband might like one so she asks her boss if there are any extra she could have (aw:( ♥)- Her mom slips a nice fat shrimp into her dad's bowl. He acted as if he didn't see it but when he finally got to it, he ate it slowly and thoughtfully.- Nick, the white college boyfriend that Ruby is constantly unsure of whether she should stay with, was eating all the good meaty bits and leaving the bony parts for her. This made her quiet, and she felt sad suddenly that she loved a man who took the good bits for himself. She had been taught to give the good bits to the other person and that the other person would give her the good bits, and in this way, they would take care of each other. She watched the duck disappearing into his mouth.OTHER NOTABLE FAVORITE PARTS- her mom calling broccoli "tree ears"♥- going to Dunkin Donuts to get coffee, a cruller, and look for jobs and apartments- her mom getting a blue pleated shirt on sale at JC Penney's and considers it a fancy shirt so it makes an appearance 3x in the novel- "oh it's not so bad here"- "if only"- Ruby had that look on her face that said, "Don't. If you help me I will die of frustration and weakness, both."- "Do you take dictation?" they ask her. "Why, are you a dictator?" she wanted to answer.- Suddenly she saw herself in ten, twenty, fifty years—at the same desk, caring desperately about some chart that she couldn't care less about.- She wanted to take off her sweater but that was the part of her outfit that made it a work outfit #lol- trying to bake bread but it's unsuccessful, didn't rise, and going thru the steps in her head, knowing she did everything as she was supposed to, yet it didn't work, thus feeling hopeless (what happens when you do everything "right" and still don't get results??)AND WHEN RUBY FINALLY MOVES OUT"Her mother stared at the license plate, memorizing it in case the movers were kidnappers." ♥ ♥ ♥In conclusion, this was another necessary novel for me to read, but I look through the 1,2-star reviews on here and hope they don't bury my 5-star review for someone who also needs this book, who needs a review to convince them that YES, YOU SHOULD READ THIS

  • Thomas Strömquist
    2019-01-01 20:25

    A melancholic and bittersweet (at best times) story told by a young Chinese woman moving back in with her parents (above the family laundry in New York) following college. Not enough happening to keep the interest up unfortunately and with a non-ending that disappoints.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-23 19:26

    Oh, I had to skip around a bit because it was too painful at times to read. Story of a Chinese American daughter whose graduated from college and doesn't know what her next step will be. She lives at home for a while, reopening the never healed wounds that keep her away but always bring her back home. But for me a lot of it was too familiar. The dynamics where you berate the people you love the most because you don't know how to say kind words. Ah, that is my very Chinese family! The cycle of breaking loved ones' hearts, and your own in the process, because you don't know how to say I love you.

  • Debby
    2018-12-31 17:40

    Rather unremarkable story but entertaining enough to keep me reading to see what would happen...unfortunately not much happened. Most valuable insight from this book? I have had a glimpse into the chinese laundry industry.

  • Sophia
    2019-01-03 01:23

    The novel is enjoyable and easy to read, especially the format and the font size are just very pleasant to let your eyes glide over them. The story itself reminds me almost a little bit of the Catcher in the Rye, it has a similar use of repetition and pointlessness, but that is also what makes it interesting to read. In light of cultural identity this novel brings light to the complex interplay of intersectionality and also the different generation effects.

  • Ashley
    2019-01-08 23:27

    This book WAS quirky and entertaining. The relationship between Ruby and her mother was touching. However, that's about all I can say for it.Ruby does nothing. This might be alright, except Ruby also learns nothing. Perhaps it appears that she does at the end, but to me it seemed that she had most definitely learned nothing at all. Throughout the book she gets flashes of things that might be insights, but she never really follows through with them. It might be okay if Ruby learned nothing - but the characters around her learn nothing and do nothing as well. Perhaps this is much like life, but if I wanted to read a book that was THAT much like actually living...well I wouldn't, because I already have a life thankyouverymuch and I'm looking for something that tells me something new or tells me something in a new way.I wasn't bored by this book. I was just treated to a sense of growing disappointment.

  • Hez
    2019-01-08 20:14

    I like where she says she baked bread so good it didn't even need butter. Why no more from this author?

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-10 01:39

    This was one of those books I'd bought at a used book sale and figured I'd probably never read. But it turned out to be a wonderful story, mostly about the relationship between Ruby and her mother. Really good.

  • Lita
    2019-01-14 18:16

    A character study that gave me a lot of anxiety and empathy, definitely a book that leaves you feeling heavy after you've finished.

  • DubaiReader
    2018-12-28 01:36

    A character study.This is very much a character driven book, very little actually happens, but we do get a feeling for life as a second generation Chinese girl in New York.Ruby is 21 when she graduates from university and goes home to live with her parents. Although she didn't have much money in her bank account, I didn't get the feeling that her return was entirely a financial decision. She cared a great deal for her mother, Bell, whose uncaring husband treated her poorly. Although Ruby loved her father, I don't think she liked him very much and she was certainly aware of how mean he was to Bell.Ruby wanted to take Bell away for a holiday in Florida, where her friends lived, and she worked as a temp to raise the funds, but the trip was continually postponed. Why? Bell just couldn't make the break from her husband, her life, even for a couple of weeks.There was also a white boyfriend from Ruby's time at Columbia. While he loved Ruby, she wasn't sure how she felt about him and didn't see any problem with going off for other sexual encounters at the same time. There was quite a bit of sex in the book, thrown in in a very casual manner; nothing overtly blatant, but certainly not disguised.I think what has stayed with me most from this book were the courtesies extended while eating - one would always choose the best bits and slip them into the other person's bowl and they would do the same for you. It was a way of showing you cared. That really appealed to me.Published in 1998, this is the author's only book. I notice from her biography that Mei Ng was also a graduate of Columbia University and was raised in Queens, of Chinese parents; I wonder to what extent this book is autobiographical.Not a riveting read but interesting and thought provoking.

  • JazminHunt
    2019-01-07 17:18

    Eating Chinese Food Naked is absolutely my favorite book of all time! The novel focuses on Columbia grad Ruby Lee and her emotional struggles when she moves back to her Chinese immigrant parents. No college grad ever wants to move back with their parents, but Ruby felt she was missing something while in college, and it turns out to be her mother, Bell. Now that she is home, now that she has to deal with her tyrannical and judgmental father again, Ruby becomes more reluctant to leave without her mother, a fantasy she always had as a child. Ruby also has a problem staying faithful to her boyfriend, Nick. Her infidelity and obsessive cravings for human touch stem from her family not being as affectionate as the other American families during her childhood. And it doesn't help with her suppressing erotic fantasies of women. Throughout the novel, Ruby struggles with family issues from past and present, her independence from her mother, and her sexual identity, all while trying to find her place in the adult world. Although initially I felt that the novel lacked emotion, especially for being a book dealing with family and sex. However, I came to realized that blunt honest Mei Ng provides gives the book marvelous intimacy as the reader introduced to the lives of the Lee family. It's triumphant in the sense that Ruby tries her best to deal with past in order to move on and start a new chapter in life. Are the results satisfying? You just have to find out. But I will guarantee the reader will fall in love with Ruby Lee because there is so much to relate with her, whether from growing up ethnic family, being a women struggling with her sexuality, or just being a young adult trying to find your place in the world.

  • Li Sian
    2019-01-15 01:37

    Ok, well, I'd agree with most reviewers that this is a flawed book, but a) do you know how hard it is to find novels that portray the queer Asian-American female experience in a way that feels hard-edged and smart and cynical in the best way, and b) most reviewers saying this is a flawed book have also compared it to Amy Tan's novels. As in. Amy Tan's novels are supposed to be better. The superior good. To which I'd say: shut the fuck up!!!What impressed me the most was how good Ng is at a specific form of ennui, a form of ennui that doesn't feel worthless, feels earned from the weight of experience. Sure, Ruby is (annoyingly, you could say) passive, her ambivalences about moving back in with her parents after college, about temping, about her boyfriend, all too fully fleshed out. But what drew me in about this novel was the way she loves her mother, how all too painfully she understands (and yearns to relieve) the weight of her mother's oppression. I haven't read a book that shows you what it's like between a mother and a daughter, and what it's like to hate your father for what he does to your mother, in too long. The end when you realise that Ruby's dad was trying, too, but that it was too late, and Ruby's mother is at least as determined to make herself unhappy as he seemed determined to, was the killing thing. And also: at least 50% of what makes this novel so compelling to me is how unlikeable Ruby is. How often do you get to read about an Asian girl who compulsively cheats on her white boyfriend? A queer Asian girl??? Anyway, you should read this if unhappy families who love each other is something you're interested in.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-11 23:30

    The bitter-sweet story of a Chinese-American woman's relationship with her parents. Ruby and her mother are both beautifully realised characters. The complicated, nuanced relationship between mother and daughter is handled deftly.

  • Rick
    2018-12-24 22:34

    I picked this book up in a $5 book box sale at a church. I can be choosy, especially with fiction, so it was a nice surprise that I was completely unable to put this book done. Not only was it a tender, loving, and sometimes painful story; but Ng somehow generalizes the feelings that accompany her situation as a second-generation Chinese American living with family to connect with a wide-ranging audience. Having very little in comon with the characters, I still felt a strong emotional bond when I read the book. One of my favorite modern novels (though admittedly, I haven't read too many modern fiction books).

  • Fiona
    2019-01-10 17:21

    Ruby finds herself with no plans after graduating from Columbia and moves back in with her parents, to the apartment behind the family laundry in Queens.Good on family dynamics and on the state of feeling in limbo. However, so little happens in the limbo-state that the book sometimes feel boring, and the question of why Ruby had no plans on graduation and why she'd changed her major from journalism to women's studies is never addressed - when it's surely crucial to her state of mind during these months.

  • Gato
    2018-12-30 23:26

    Love love loved this book. It has my favorite themes - the mother/daughter relationship, sexual conflict, and Chinese culture. The author writes in such a descriptive, beautiful, intelligent style that drew me in from page one and made me sad when the book came to an end. I could read this over and over and still be enthralled by the details, the richness of the words and the incredible characters. An amazing debut novel by the author.

  • Jalene
    2019-01-21 23:37

    A portrait of a family that is extremely dysfunctional. The relationships and character development. Is excellent. Unfortunately the characters never evolve. No lessons learned, nothing can change who these people are and how dysfunctional they are. And maybe that was the point but then the book really could have ended at any point in the story. I stuck it out to the end, but was disappointed that I did. I so wanted to see something, anything happen to kick start this family.

  • mona
    2019-01-08 21:14

    Interesting story. Asian-American experience without being an "Asian-American experience", if that makes any sense. Basically a story about a woman trying to survive that phase in one's life, between college-years and the-rest-of-your-life. Particularly as an Asian-American, the process is loaded with family issues, and in Ruby's case, love. Pace of the novel was slow -- slow like molasses, slow. I'm still deciding whether this added to or detracted from the story.

  • Sherry Tinerella
    2019-01-18 00:36

    This book was ok. It held my attention though it did drag in spots. I found the family relationships to be the most interesting. I enjoyed reading about the family's Chinese culture. I understand that the main character is confused about intimacy and identity but it it is not clearly resolved. I don't understand why the author threw in the sexual identity issue into the mix, it was never fully developed.

  • Lauren
    2018-12-23 18:17

    A powerful exploration of the relationship between a first generation mother and second generation daughter,-- really the dynamics of an entire family. Twentysomethings will empathize with the main character as she struggles to find herself. You may want to shake some of the characters for being so terrible to each other at times, but what better mark of a real family and real relationships could there be?

  • Julie Barrett
    2018-12-29 23:22

    Eating Chinese Food Naked Was hoping this audio book will include some Chinese recipes.Ruby is back from college, to her mothers house and is not ready to move into her boyfriends apartment.She gets a job because she's not sure what she wants to do after graduating from college.Longer she stays I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

  • Felecia Lopez
    2018-12-29 00:33

    Eating Chinese food naked is based on a 22 year old Chinese girl who just finished college and moved back home with her parents. Watching her parents struggle to get along, she questions her relationship with her current boyfriend. Ruby Lee is having a difficult time discovering what she wants with her life and her love life. I rated this 3 stars because I felt like the ending could have been better. This book is a great book for those who want to see differences between cultures and age.

  • Rebekah
    2018-12-28 21:12

    I think I liked this book so much because I saw a little of my own family and self in Ruby and her family. I think that is what makes this book so compelling and relatable; that it is not primarily about a Chinese-American family but a family that is trying to come together who also happen to be Chinese.

  • Laura
    2019-01-11 22:24

    I read the first few pages of this book in the Philadelphia library, and didn't check it out because I didn't have my card or something, and I couldn't remember the title (even though it's so provocative!), and then I re-found it in the Rochester library and was so glad. Very sad (but not too much... the right amount), very touching very good.

  • Ellen
    2019-01-18 22:24

    probably one of the worst books i've read in recent history. the plot line moves at a plodding pace, and while some of the descriptions are pretty, i felt no sympathy/ empathy for the main character. it wasn't sexy or any different than any other book about some self-involved gen-xer. this book took an old story and told it in an boring way- seriously lacking in creativity and cleverness.

  • Fiona
    2019-01-19 00:27

    It was a good book, pretty well written and kept my attention. The main character is a girl and her life and thought process was not closely aligned with mine at all. It was neat the way she grew throughout the book.

  • Glen Retief
    2019-01-21 22:18

    This novel is gorgeous, full of evocative sensual detail and emotional complexity. The observations of family life and cultural clashes--American versus Chinese--is so on-target, it hurts like someone pinching a nerve. Truly beautiful.

  • Aubry Martin
    2019-01-04 20:34

    Agree that it was painful to read at times, but I didn't feel the need to skip those parts. It's very honest and earnest, awkward, funny and poignant. A good read. I would read it again if I could find my copy...

  • SGC
    2019-01-17 00:17

    I'm not really a crier, but the beautiful/tense relationship between the young woman in this book and her mother made me cry. It's a great story of those immediate post-college years when you're still trying to figure out who you are.

  • Merrill
    2018-12-25 17:31

    My book club chose this one, and I liked the sound of it, but the writing was really amateurish and therefore not enjoyable. If you're considering it, read "Short Girls" instead for a much better portrayal of first-generation angst.