Excerpt from Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Everything Asian

A Novel

by Sung J. Woo

Everything Asian
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2010, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beth Hemke Shapiro

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


*

Father was right, of course; the piano turned Noona around.  Often I stood next to her as she played, watching her fingers flutter over the keyboard, her bare feet jamming the pedals below.  With every note triggering the rise and fall of a hammer, how could you not feel better?  Noona’s negativity fled in droves as notes dashed out of the piano.

Financially, the piano was a horror.  Within two weeks, we lost our telephone.  A nice black man knocked on the door and said, “Good evenin’, good sir,” to my Father and slipped our rotary phone into a little canvas bag.  We almost lost electricity, but somehow Father managed to sell enough merchandise at the store to get everything back before the end of the month.

It must’ve been difficult for Mother to live with Father again, constantly living on the edge of disaster.  He was a smart man in a lot of ways, but not when it came to money .  To this day, I’m unable to figure out exactly what he was doing wrong.  I don’t think he ever could, either.

*

The best vantage point from which to see all the cars in our apartment’s back parking lot was out the kitchen window, standing on a chair, looking down and to the right.  This was how Noona and I decided that Father drove the ugliest car in the neighborhood.  It was a ‘77 Ford station wagon in a shade of green that felt doomed.  In the summer the car held a fishy stench.  In the winter it shook while idling.

There’s a story that goes with the purchase of this car:

July to August, 1980.  For six consecutive weekends, torrential rain soaks coastal New Jersey.  This is great for business because Father’s store is half an hour away from the beach and when people can’t head for the shore, they head for the store.  Each weekend he sets a new sales record.  Mr. Lim has been kind enough to carpool with Father, the detour adding a good forty miles to his trip, so it’s time for Father to get a car of his own.

At the end of six weeks, he has enough money to buy the black ‘79 Mustang from Bill Moreno, the scruffy guy in 14A.  Since the beginning of the summer, a fluorescent FOR SALE sign has adorned its rear window.  Father knows it’s a good buy because he’s seen the way Bill Moreno makes his turns like an old woman, and the car wash and wax that happens on every Saturday without fail.

On the day that Father decides to approach Mr. Moreno, Mr. Lim comes looking for him.  “My car just died,” he says.  “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.  I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to give you a ride anymore.”  Father lends Mr. Lim a sizable part of his money - enough to fix the busted transmission - and dejectedly goes to a Ford dealer, hoping to get maybe a ‘75 or a ‘76 Mustang, then comes hobbling back with the station wagon.

“Why did you buy the car?” I asked Father.

“I don’t know,” he told me.  “It didn’t seem like I had a choice.  I was gonna get one that day, so I was gonna follow through.”

“You couldn’t wait?”

“I wish you were here that day,” he said.

It was just what I wanted to hear.

*

The day that Father and Mother decided to have me and Noona begin working at Father’s store (”Our store, not my store,” Father repeated until I got it right), Mother drove for the first time.  She’d been taking lessons from Father, but it was obvious they weren’t going well, for after each session, Father knocked back a double shot of his Cutty Sark and Mother ran into their bedroom, slammed the door shut, and cranked up her Korean lounge music to near-deafening levels.

Excerpted from Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo. Copyright © 2006 by Sung J. Woo. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, a division of Macmillan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

At times, our own light goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.