Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming

Penguin Pr. Apr. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780525557371. $28. MEMOIR
This is a beautifully written ode to Chin’s (Eating Wildly) family that explores the history of a nation through the eyes of those whose stories of strength, rage, and passion were often suppressed from the historical record. It begins when Chin learns that both sides of her family once occupied the same building on Manhattan’s Mott Street, inspiring her to dive deep into her family’s past. She discovers that her family’s turbulent and exciting history only scratched the surface of what was occurring in the United States during their initial immigration. Her research, on display in this book, shows that the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which restricted immigration by race and nationality, ultimately barred her Chinese family from U.S. citizenship for six decades, even as their labor in the States was welcomed. The book also draws parallels between Chin’s family history and present-day discrimination against Chinese Americans, especially during the COVID pandemic.
VERDICT Chin’s family stories are important and relevant, and her memoir gives readers a better understanding of immigrants’ pasts and presents in the U.S. and an idea of how to move forward.
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