Scholars Praise Yin & Yang Press Books
Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South
“Southern Fried Rice tells the overlooked history of Chinese Americans in the Deep South through the author’s account of his family’s experiences in Georgia running a laundry from the late 1920s through the 1950s. This inside view of an immigrant family who struggled to make a living and to maintain connections with their Chinese heritage and homeland highlights the mutability and complexity of Chinese American identity and the frequently forgotten ethnic and racial diversity of the South.”
Krystyn Moon, Asst. Prof. of History, Georgia State University
Author, “Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s-1920s”
“… a humane and personal reflection … an incisive clarity that shines extra light on the mundane oddities and inhuman logic of everyday life in the South before the Civil Rights era. … a rare glimpse at the fairly common experience of those Americans who found themselves in the impossible spaces of the American racial order, a world that is both thankfully distant and yet hauntingly familiar still.”
Henry Yu, Associate Professor of History, UCLA and University of British Columbia
Author, “Thinking Orientals, Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America”
“…Being the only Chinese in town, their lives were certainly not mint julep and magnolias. Southern Fried Rice describes the process of running a laundry and the difficulty of raising children isolated from other Chinese... Through it all, the family, itself, remained steadfast in their cultural traits and folkways. …Quan Shee, the author’s mother, was truly a woman warrior...”
Sylvia Sun Minnick Author, “Samfow, The San Joaquin Chinese Experience”
“Southern Fried Rice offers a fascinating and insightful account of Chinese-American family life in the context of restraints on immigration and the U.S. racial and economic systems. This story of one remarkable family offers valuable insight about economic struggles in difficult times, intergenerational relations, continuing ties to Chinese culture and community, family obligation, gender, the key role of laundries in Chinese economic opportunity, and much else. This is a charming and informative book.”
Paul Rosenblatt, Professor of Family Social Sciences, University of Minnesota Author, Multiracial Couples: Black and White Voices
"John Jung provides an insightful account of himself and his family in the context of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the 1940s and 1950s. The unique experiences and struggles of his family members serve both to confirm some principles from social science research on Chinese in America as well as to remind us of the importance of individual differences, yielding meaningfulness and substance to issues of culture, race relations, immigration, and identity development. This engaging, candid, and often humorous and heartwarming book is an important contribution not only to the fields of psychology, sociology, and history but also to literature. Social scientists and students alike will find the book immensely fascinating and satisfying."
Stanley Sue, Distinguished Professor, Psychology and Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis Co-Editor,” Asian American Mental Health: Assessment Theories and Methods”
“This narrative, woven with genuine scholarship about the lives of Chinese immigrants, is a masterful bit of storytelling. It is an admirable and valuable contribution.”
Ronald Gallimore, Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA Author, “Rousing Minds to Life, Teaching, learning,and schooling in social context”
“Rich with historical details of immigration, John Jung's engaging memoir about growing up Chinese in the segregated South is an insightful observation about the resilience of Asian American families and the fluidity of culture and ethnic identities across different historical moments and racialized spaces.”
Barbara Kim, Asst. Prof. Asian American Studies, Cal State University, Long Beach
“Southern Fried Rice demonstrates the fluidity of regional and national identity and is both a construction and deconstruction of "Chinese-ness.”…These stories offer much toward confirming and complicating popular notions of what it means to be "American" just as it traces the slippery identity shifts of what it means to be "Chinese" … a valuable mirror that will help move the history of those who are neither Black nor White towards a more deserving central role in the national and international human story.”
Stephanie Y. Evans, Assistant Professor, African American Studies and Women's Studies, University of Florida Author,”Black Women in The Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History”
“This interesting memoir presents a unique view of ethnic identity development. It provides fascinating insights into the process of learning what it means to be Chinese when there is no Chinese community, or even other Chinese families, to interact with, and the way subsequent experiences in -- and out -- of a Chinese community further shape this process.”
Jean Phinney, Professor of Psychology, Cal State U, Los Angeles Creator of the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure
“In Southern Fried Rice, John Jung offers an intriguing and unique perspective on American immigration. Based on his experience as a child in the only Chinese family in Macon, Georgia in the mid-20th century, Jung’s story is a fascinating account of the negotiation of personal and ethnic identity in a foreign environment. His narrative highlights many of the features of the larger society, including both government policy and situational practice, that shape the lives of immigrants, both then and now.”
Kay Deaux, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, City University of New York Graduate Center Author, “To be An Immigrant”
A charming and engrossing self-ethnography. More importantly, John Jung’s book enhances the archive on Asians in the South as well as our understanding of how Jim Crow situated the Chinese between “white” and “colored.”
Leslie Bow, English and Asian American Studies (Director) University of Wisconsin
Author "Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South”
Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain
…important window into the history of the early Chinese immigrants. . . The laundrymen faced struggles, challenges, and even disappointments; yet, the Chinese laundry became a valued and necessary enterprise …
Sylvia Sun Minnick, SamFow: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy and Stockton's Chinese Community
… a significant contribution to the history of Chinese laundries … best told by someone like Jung who experienced a ‘laundry life,’ and understands its psychological impact on the Chinese laundrymen and their families. . .
Murray K. Lee, Curator of Chinese American History, San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
… rewarding study of an era marked by invention born of dire necessity, an unforgiving host society that demanded Chinese laundrymen’s services but then punished them for being too good at it, … a long overdue analysis of a familiar experience hidden in plain sight.
Mel Brown, Chinese Heart of Texas, The San Antonio Chinese Community, 1875-1975.
… a welcome contribution to Chinese American studies that depicts the plight of early generations of Chinese caught in the predicament of operating laundries to provide for their families, ... while enduring extreme hardship and loneliness ... inclusion of historic documents, photographs, newspaper article excerpts, and revealing personal stories and insider observations from a few of the many who, like the author, grew up and worked in their family laundries. The subject deserves attention and further exploration in view of the significant impact that the laundry had not only on the Chinese American experience, but also in the social and cultural histories of the U.S. and Canada.
Joan S. Wang, Race, Gender, and Laundry Work: The Roles of Chinese Laundrymen and American Women in the United States, 1850–1950, Journal of American Ethnic History
… a remarkable book...a comprehensive historical study of the Chinese laundries in the United States, a profound analysis of the psychological experiences of the Chinese laundrymen in America and their families in China; and above all, written by someone who has intimate experiences with the Chinese laundry, it is a tribute to those Chinese immigrants whose labor and sacrifice laid the foundation of the Chinese American community, and a testimony of the Chinese laundrymen’s resilience, resourcefulness, and humanity.
Renqiu Yu, To Save China, To Save Ourselves, The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York.
What is remarkable is the combination of this historical perspective with his social psychological descriptions and analyses of laundrymen and their descendants. The personal life stories, with their inner thought, feeling, values, attitudes, work experiences and survival hardships, are skillfully presented with penetrating insights and observations. These perspectives present an overall picture of the history and the life and work of the laundrymen.
Ban Seng Hoe, Curator of Asian Studies, Canadian Museum of Civilization
Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton: Lives of Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocers
John Jung's third
book about relatively undocumented aspects of Chinese American history is a
solid, well-researched, and engagingly written study of the Chinese grocery
stores in the Mississippi River Delta from their post-Civil War Reconstruction
era beginnings to the present. Jung deftly demonstrates how these sojourners
from the Guangdong province found their niche in a unique and challengingly
complex social setting, rigidly stratified by race. They not only `survived,' but overcame racism to prosper and eventually become valued
members of their communities. After a thorough historical background that
provides a framework needed to fully portray their difficult circumstances, the
author examines both the sociological and psychological aspects of daily life
for Chinese American grocery store families. As a Chinese American who grew up
in the Deep South himself, John Jung has a degree of empathy that imbues
Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton with an insight both in depth and breadth that
is totally requisite for a study of this nature.
Mel Brown, Chinese Heart of Texas, The San Antonio Community, 1875-1975; Editor, TexAsia, San Antonio's Asian Communities, 1978-2008.
In Chopsticks in The Land of Cotton, John Jung has done it again! Plunging into the history of Chinese grocers in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, he traces their migration history, work, families, and social lives. His work is anchored in a creative mix of oral history, community historical documents and public records, and includes a generous fill of photos. As a study of the complexities of triangular race relations in the Jim Crow South, his work rivals James Loewen's classic study, The Mississippi Chinese.
Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans ( 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (2010).
"Chopsticks" tells the story of yet one more example of Chinese tenacity in which John Jung traces the paths of pioneer Chinese immigrants in Mississippi as they moved from laborers to become successful grocery store merchants for decades with family members and relatives serving as the backbone. "Chopsticks" pays tribute to the resilience and "can-do" attitude of these enterprising entrepreneurs.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, Sam Fow,The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy.
Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton explores aspects of Chinese settlement in the Mississippi Delta that earlier writings on the subject do not address in detail. Jung analyzes why grocery stores emerged as virtually the only occupation for Chinese in that area instead of farming and hand laundries. He examines the extensive kinship networking that brought male relatives and later whole families to this unlikely region for Chinese settlement. Jung's impressive book can be enjoyed by ordinary readers for its captivating stories and by scholars for its thorough research and analysis of sources.
Daniel Bronstein, The Formation and Development of Chinese Communities in Atlanta, Augusta, And Savannah, Georgia: From Sojourners To Settlers, 1880-1965.
John Jung provides meticulous detail on a subject worth much greater examination: the Chinese grocery stores of the South. These grocery stores were the center of Chinese American family and commercial life in the South, including Texas and the Southwest, for at least half of the twentieth century. Jung illuminates every aspect of these grocery stores, which were as important to black neighborhoods as they were to the Chinese American families who ran them. Especially of interest is Jung's exploration of the relationships between Chinese Americans and African Americans, a topic distorted by the iconic images of more recent inter-ethnic conflicts. Chopsticks is a valuable contribution to Asian American history.
Irwin Tang, Co-Author and Editor, Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives
and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" tackles the long-neglected
topic of Chinese food with a focus on Chinese restaurants. This
well-researched, thoughtfully conceptualized monograph brings academic rigor
and adds historical depth, as well as the perspectives of an insightful scholar
and a second-generation Chinese American, to our understanding of the development
of Chinese food in the realm of public consumption in the United States and
Canada. It promises to elevate that understanding to a higher level... Through
this book, I hope, consumers at the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants can also
gain a deeper appreciation of historical forces and human experiences that have
shaped the food they now enjoy.
Yong Chen, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine. "San Francisco Chinese 1850-1943:A Trans-Pacific Community."
has taken us down another memory lane and this time we brought along our
appetite. "Sweet & Sour" evoked hundreds of memories of
Chinatowns, favorite soul food dishes, haunts of opulent and garish banquet
halls and the more frequented and beloved hole-in-the walls. These are the collective
memories shared by families and friends. Sweet & Sour is also an
anthropological study. Chinese cooks across these United States and Canada
created an everlasting love for Chinese food enjoyed by all cultures. Find a
“chop suey” house and generations upon generations
will cite their favorites, be it chow mein, fried rice, beef brisket stew or even chicken
feet. Without a doubt this is by far Jung’s best work and with the greatest
Sylvia Sun Minnick, "Samfow: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy"
John Jung again demonstrates a marvelous ability to blend archival data with fascinating first-person accounts to bring to life the family-operated Chinese eateries that are quickly disappearing from today’s society. Following solid historical groundwork, Jung uses narratives of 10 individuals who grew up in such places to take readers inside old-time chop suey houses. Their stories provide a candid telling of the personal, familial, and cultural significance of these familiar cafes. As with his earlier books on Chinese family-owned laundries and grocery stores, the author sheds a fresh and ample light on a subject even more familiar. And once again he does it so well from the inside out.
Mel Brown, "Chinese Heart of Texas: The San Antonio Community 1875-1975."
"Sweet And Sour" is a powerful historical exploration of an American institution: the family-owned Chinese restaurant. John Jung succeeds in bringing to life the exterior side of such Chinese eateries across the nation--their appearance, their location, and of course, their hybrid, Americanized menu offerings. In addition, by means of a variety of interviews and primary sources, he focuses attention as well on their little-known private side, the daily routines and harsh working conditions that made them run. Jung underlines the contributions of all family members, including children that were necessary for success.
Greg Robinson, Prof. of History, University of Quebec, Montreal. "A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America"
"Sweet and Sour" covers many important aspects of the Chinese restaurant business and it is a great contribution to the study of Chinese food in America. This area really deserves more attention than it has had.
Haiming Liu, Professor of Ethnic and Women's Studies, Calif. State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “Food, Culinary Identity, and Transnational Culture: Chinese Restaurant Business in Southern California,” Journal of Asian American Studies, (2009).
I greatly admired and enjoyed "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" It does
an excellent job of going over the historical background on early U. S. Chinese
restaurants, unearthing lots of material new to me. And the interviews
of Chinese restaurateurs opened up a whole new side to the story, of what it
was like to work and live in these restaurants.
Andrew Coe, "Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States"
important historical survey that contributes significantly to the recorded
realities of Chinese life in the United States. Many are the Chinese
restaurants that no longer exist and that are known today only through old
telephone books and business directories. No doubt families still have memories
and hold documents on those businesses, but if no John Jung looks for them they
will not be found... in writing this book, John Jung has rendered a great
service to the faceless people behind the counter who deserve to be recognized.
Raymond Lum, Librarian for Western Languages, Harvard-Yenching Library
For those inspired in retirement to become an author, “A Chinese American Odyssey” can help. In this book John focused “on the creative process of research, discovery, and writing, the self-publishing process, and the tasks of self-promotion and marketing. This is a personal account, and not a “How To” guide.
“A Chinese American Odyssey” implies in several places that John regards this as his final act as public historian. But knowing his history, who would be astonished if he did it again –– started a new research project, wrote another book? I wouldn’t. After all, Odysseus didn’t remain idle when he ended his journey.
Ronald Gallimore Distinguished Professor Emeritus University of California, Los Angeles
A Chinese American Odyssey documents John Jung’s fascinating metamorphosis as he retired from the field of psychology to enter and become an important voice in Chinese American history. And John’s richly contextualized tales of his unique experiences as a Chinese makes the book an insightful cultural biography. Anyone interested in Chinese America, or how to succeed in a post-retirement career, should read this highly enjoyable memoir.
Yong Chen, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine. Chop Suey USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America.
Storytelling is an art. Autobiography and memoir, when crafted well, are the synergy of history and literature: synthesis is the key to creative non-fiction. With a researcher’s reliance on evidence, a painter’s eye for detail, and a comedian’s sense of well-timed and thoughtful punch lines, John Jung’s four previous narratives have shown how to write well, live well, and merge the two in mindful and transparent social contemplation. Dr. Jung has a keen sense of style and craft, which I witnessed as a student in his research classes at California State University-Long Beach, where his commitment to train up-and-coming scholars was effective and infective. He loved research and made us love it too! In this latest book, it is clear that he also remains a master teacher.
Jung’s books have been the epitome of good scholarship: his writing informs the reader and compels us to want more beauty and take more time for reflection in our own lives. He has mastered humanizing the Chinese American experience by placing it in a Southern context and, in doing so, humanizes us all by complicating the South we think we know. A Chinese American Odyssey focuses on the process of writing life stories and that process draws back the curtain so we can all witness the awful beauty of the personal difficulties that have made his Chinese American histories so impactful with an ever-growing regional, national, and international audience. Dr. Jung demonstrates the intellectual power of creative scholarship and his generous spirit offers practical guidance for those who want to move ahead with telling their own story.
Stephanie Y. Evans, Chair, Department of African American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies, and History
Clark Atlanta University
John Jung has done it again. His quirky memoir is a wonderful kaleidoscopic view of Chinese American history from inside out and outside in that even throws in the kitchen sink. All will be richer for reading this lively tale of an incredible, post-academia publishing career that includes much serendipity in pursuit of some fast fading history and those, including himself, who lived it.
Mel Brown, Chinese Heart of Texas: The San Antonio Community 1875-1975. TexAsia; San Antonio's Asian Communities 1978-2008.
John Jung is the epitome of a retiree who never fades away. He just changed his academic focus to expand his horizons into the field of Chinese American social history, and expose the struggles and triumphs of the second and third generations of laundry operators and restaurateurs - those who planted footholds in many a Chinatown.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, SAMFOW: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy.