The Dim Sum of All Things

The Dum Sum of All Thimgs

Keltner, Kim Wong (2004) [Kindle 2.0.3 version]. Retrieved from

Reader’s Annotation
Twenty-something ABC (American-born-Chinese) Lindsey Owyang lives with her aged grandma, works for Vegan Warrior Magazine, and plans her bus seating to avoid the pickup moves from “Hoarders of All Things Asian”. The humorous social observations and engaging San Francisco Chinatown details are better than the vaguely rendered office romance and search for cultural roots.

Lindsey Owyeng is an overqualified receptionist at Vegan Warrior Magazine. She lives with her grandmother, Pau Pau, in an apartment building owned by the family. The chapters are episodic vignettes of outings, parties, or trips involving Lindsey and her large Chinese family. They visit her dead grandfather’s grave and have a picnic on it; Chinese New Year arrives and Lindsey collects her envelopes of cash; she and her grandmother visit the family village in China, where Lindsey finds a life-time ‘s worth of photos of herself taped to a Chinese wall. The thin thread of a developing romance between Lindsey and Michael, at work, runs through the story. Michael, it turns out, is ¼ Chinese, but is that enough to prevent him from being one of the banes of Lindsey’s dating life, white guys looking for Chinese girls because they are “Hoarders of All Things Asian”?

In the end the slightly odd nature of this book may be explained by the realization that it’s been packaged by a marketing person, or it may just be that the writer had too many goals. The breezy chapter headings, often puns of the caliber of the title, don’t match the chapters containing Amy Tan-like reminiscences from Grandma about fleeing China during World War II. They go better with the Chinese Bridget Jonesy overviews of dating types and catastrophes. For a Chick Lit novel, the romance feels tangential to the plot, like an obligatory element added later,and the character of Michael is undeveloped—he has no personality, and there is just no believable connection. To a reader who grew up in San Francisco, the parts about being a granddaughter in Chinatown, where everybody knows your business and worries about your marital prospects, are the most successful. Keltner can be funny and observant—she should write a memoir.

About the author
Keltner says she honed her skills for dialogue by listening to old Chinese ladies gossip over mah-jong games. She lives in San Francisco out in the Sunset with, she says , “All the other Chinese people”.

Chick lit/ethnic

Curriculum Ties

Booktalking Ideas
Mixed race dating
What’s with Hello Kitty—can you help me understand this?
What does Lindsey learn about herself through traveling to China with Pau Pau?

Reading Level/Interest Age

Challenge Issues

Why Included?
Read for genre project—looking for diverse chick lit

Selection Tools
Assigned by group

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