A new take on 'Pride and Prejudice' brings readers to 2000s New York Chinatown
C.K. Chau's fresh take on a centuries-old story brings Pride and Prejudice to early 2000s New York City Chinatown.
Who is she? C.K. Chau, author of the new book Good Fortune, retells the classic enemies-to-lovers story through the experience of a Cantonese American family.
There's a family story at the heart of it. There's a love story. And it's a love story between these two leads, but it's also a love story between Elizabeth and her mother in some ways. And on top of that, I think that the concerns of the book about money, about class, about making sure that the people you want to impress are impressed by you are really timeless emotions. I think it carries you throughout your life, and it ages with you as all the great stories do.
What's the big deal? By recasting the Bennets as a Cantonese, working-class immigrant family, Chau hoped to fill a gap in the Pride and Prejudice canon.
"I think because of the size of the Chinese American diaspora, we've gotten a lot of narratives that cleave towards certain migration groups or patterns. And I wanted to see a section of that community that I was very familiar with and that I grew up around. And that was working-class Chinese immigrants.
Listen to full All Things Considered interview with C.K. Chau by tapping the play button at the top.
What are people saying? If you like romance novels or you're craving a Chinese spin on a classic, you'll probably be into Good Fortune.
In Good Fortune, working-class life is neither pure misery nor set dressing: It is companionship and solidarity, and it is a narrative engine. In re-classing the Bennets, Chau both uncovers new layers in the original and reveals some of what Austen left out.
I can't emphasize enough how rare it is to see Cantonese culture — my culture — represented so authentically in a mainstream American novel ... I loved how Chau was able to seamlessly work in so many elements from a culture that I was more than familiar with: the family-run Chinese restaurant where everyone was expected to chip in to keep the business afloat; the nosy and gossipy neighborhood aunties with their relentlessly prying questions ... the Cantonese turns-of-phrases sprinkled throughout the dialogue ... the descriptions of local Cantonese cuisine and dishes that, frankly, made me salivate.
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