NOW AN ORIGINAL SERIES ON ABC • “Just may be the best new comedy of [the year] . . . based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name . . . [a] classic fresh-out-of-water comedy.”—People “Bawdy and frequently hilarious . . . a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America . . . as much James Baldwin and Jay-Z as Amy Tan . . . rowdy [and] vital . . . It’s a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS Assimilating ain’t easy. Eddie Huang was raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) immigrants—his father a cocksure restaurateur with a dark past back in Taiwan, his mother a fierce protector and constant threat. Young Eddie tried his hand at everything mainstream America threw his way, from white Jesus to macaroni and cheese, but finally found his home as leader of a rainbow coalition of lost boys up to no good: skate punks, dealers, hip-hop junkies, and sneaker freaks. This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures, trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food. Funny, moving, and stylistically inventive, Fresh Off the Boat is more than a radical reimagining of the immigrant memoir—it’s the exhilarating story of every American outsider who finds his destiny in the margins. Praise for Fresh Off the Boat “Brash and funny . . . outrageous, courageous, moving, ironic and true.”—New York Times Book Review “Mercilessly funny and provocative, Fresh Off the Boat is also a serious piece of work. Eddie Huang is hunting nothing less than Big Game here. He does everything with style.”—Anthony Bourdain “Uproariously funny . . . emotionally honest.”—Chicago Tribune “Huang is a fearless raconteur. [His] writing is at once hilarious and provocative; his incisive wit pulls through like a perfect plate of dan dan noodles.”—Interview “Although writing a memoir is an audacious act for a thirty-year-old, it is not nearly as audacious as some of the things Huang did and survived even earlier. . . . Whatever he ends up doing, you can be sure it won’t look or sound like anything that’s come before. A single, kinetic passage from Fresh Off the Boat . . . is all you need to get that straight.”—BookforumLearn More
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Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
A Complex Character
I recently started watching the entertaining ABC sit-com Fresh off the Boat. The show is produced by the always entertaining Eddie Huang, currently the restaurateur of the wildly popular Baohaus in NYC. I knew the name of the show and Eddie’s name sounded familiar, and realized that the show is based on his memoir. So, I gave it a listen.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that Eddie reads it. The writing is so very him, and I can’t imagine anyone but Eddie narrating it. But that’s the thing. Eddie doesn’t just narrate the book; he retells it and infuses it with the complex character that he is. At points, Eddie comes off as a total punk who should likely have ended up serving twenty to life in the pen. Other times he comes off as kind and highly intelligent and diverse in ways that go well beyond the standard complexities of simply being an ABC, “American Born Chinese.” At the start of the book, he says that his memoir is for any of those who never really felt as if they fit in anywhere.
Eddie doesn’t hesitate to address the listener, like when he lets us know which is his favorite chapter, or when he completely revises his presentation of the only recipe he provides in the book, beef noodle soup, from the original commandments in the text version to detailing his technique. All along, he encourages us to put our own spins on it to make it distinctly our own.
While the popular television show is fun for the whole family, the book is not quite so kid friendly. His parents are nowhere near as kind and understanding as in the show. In fact, they are physically abusive to the point that the kids nearly ended up in state custody. The parents never showed pride for their children’s accomplishments and usually shot them down. Eddie spent many years living up to the lifestyle he was exposed to via the hip-hop/rap culture he revered - complete with theft, selling drugs, and generally thuggery. That is, until he went to schools of higher learning and latched on to the wisdom of such luminaries as Emerson, Swift, W.E.B. Dubois and more and filtered them through his own personal experience as a Chinese-American who didn’t even fit in with most other Chinese-Americans.
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