On Gold Mountain: Book summary and reviews of On Gold Mountain by Lisa See

On Gold Mountain

by Lisa See

On Gold Mountain

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Book Summary

In 1867, Lisa See's great-great-grandfather arrived in America, where he prescribed herbal remedies to immigrant laborers who were treated little better than slaves. His son Fong See later built a mercantile empire and married a Caucasian woman, in spite of laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Lisa herself grew up playing in her family's antiques store in Los Angeles's Chinatown, listening to stories of missionaries and prostitutes, movie stars and Chinese baseball teams.

With these stories and her own years of research, Lisa See chronicles the one-hundred-year-odyssey of her Chinese-American family, a history that encompasses racism, romance, secret marriages, entrepreneurial genius, and much more, as two distinctly different cultures meet in a new world.

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First published in 1995. Reprinted by Vintage in 2012

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lovingly rendered. ... A vivid tableau of a family and an era." - People

"Terrific stuff. ... The See family's adventures would be incredible if On Gold Mountain were fiction." - The New York Times Book Review

"Weaves together fascinating family anecdotes, imaginative details, and the historical details of immigrant life. ... Enviably entertaining." - Amy Tan

"Astonishing. ... as engagingly readable as any novel. ... comprehensive and exhaustively researched." - Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] striking piece of social history made immediate and gripping." - Publishers Weekly

"Although her mesmerizing family history starts out by tracing the accomplishments of a poor peasant trained as an herbalist, it goes on to celebrate the resourcefulness and often quite formidable achievements of generations of family members up to the present day." - Booklist

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Author Information

Lisa See Author Biography

Lisa See was born in Paris in 1955 but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. She is the daughter of author Carolyn See (described as a "leading literary figure of Southern California" who died in July 2016 aged 82.) Lisa's first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family, was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of 1995. The book traces the journey of Lisa's great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles's Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.

It was while collecting the details of her family history for On Gold Mountain that she developed the idea for her first novel, Flower Net, which was ...

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