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Sour Sweet

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  512 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Paperback, 287 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Paddleless Press (first published 1982)
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Sour Sweet by Timothy MoThe Life of a Banana by P.P.  Wong
Chinese British Authors
1st out of 2 books — 3 voters
Speedy Reads by Chris-Jean ClarkeHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingRevenge by Stevie TurnerGRIT The Banter and Brutality of the Late-Night Cab by Karl WigginsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Life in the UK
111th out of 493 books — 28 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,010)
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Jul 23, 2011 Marika rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book but my Chen love is not shared with my friends! It's such a moving story and the way it flips from the heartwarming and funny Chens to the darker forces at work is very well done. You really feel as though you're part of the family.
Aug 09, 2011 Gordon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Excellent! In places had me laughing out loud, in places hard and cold as iron. A wonderfully penetrating portrayal of a Chinese immigrant family in England and the world they live in.
Sep 16, 2011 Magdelanye rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
This curious book did not give any warning, although the title might have alerted me.
This story of Chinese immigrants struggling to achieve security in a foreign land follows two separate casts of characters. There is the fragment of the family, Lily, her sister Mui,her Husband and Son. And there is the Hung family, ruthless gang members who are portrayed with equal sympathy by Mo who has the uncanny knack of zooming in and out of his various characters perspective and drawing our empathy even
Aug 28, 2014 Janay rated it it was ok
Sour Sweet was exactly that, with more sour than sweet moments for me. In his novel, Timothy Mo shares the story of a Chinese family(wife Lily, Husband Chen, their young son Man Kee and the wife's sister Mui) attempting to build a life together in London, above the Chinese restaurant they've decided to open.

It is within this context that the flat, closed characters begin to take shape and open up, though slowly.

While the characters reveal themselves, we also see another story unfolding with Chi
Apr 14, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed it. I am always interested in reading about the experiences of immigrants in their new homes. As somebody who has lived in another country, I appreciate their hard work, confusion, happiness and miscommunication. I like that this went back and forth between a "regular" family who moved from Hong Kong to London and a group of gangsters/mobsters also originally from Hong Kong. Watching the family try so hard to be happy and fulfilled at the same time as the mobsters are ruining th ...more
Lila Kitaeff
Feb 14, 2008 Lila Kitaeff rated it really liked it
About a family that immigrates to London from Hong Kong and starts up their own restaurant. Really fabulous characters, the kind that you miss when you finish the book.
Jul 16, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and Self

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Mixed feelings about this one...I loved following the lives of the Chen family, although I didn't like Lily for most of the book. The parallel storyline involving the Triads was quite confusing as it went into a lot of details regarding their complex rules and values. However, in the final few chapters (I won't give away what happens as it will spoil the ending) these two storylines were resolved well. The ending was very bittersweet and sad, and a good ending (not all books have them!). Not a g ...more
Apr 07, 2016 Helen rated it it was ok
This was part of a reading challenge and was my book recommended by a good friend. I'd certainly never have chosen this booknfor myself and I also wouldn't recommend it.

The story of Chen and Lily was pleasant but the random chapters with gang members made no sense for quite some time and even when I realised why they were there they didn't hold any inteest for me.

Parts of the story weren't really developed well and the end was somewhat abrupt and underwhelming.
Jan 20, 2016 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insight into a part of London I knew nothing about. Rivetting.
Avida Reada
Jun 27, 2016 Avida Reada rated it really liked it
Apr 20, 2014 Aisha rated it really liked it
Sweet or sour
Aug 03, 2015 Ming rated it liked it
A clever and funny (tongue firmly in cheek) read. I was fascinated by this take on Chinese in England. I don't know what kind of research Mo did and I wonder about how much exoticizing of gangs occurs here. But the read was certainly engaging.

His humor is intriguing. After reading Pure, I remain in awe of his ability to consistently use wit when writing about difficult, hearty, isoteric and sometimes absurd topics or occurrences.
Michael Walkden
Not too impressed with this novel. I found it patronising, and the details of British-Chinese life were at times minute enough to be mundane. The Chen family plotline could have functioned equally well without the (mostly peripheral) Hung connection. Still, Mo is an excellent wordsmith and certain passages were sublime. 2.5 stars.
Nov 20, 2011 Saxamaholly rated it liked it
I really liked how the author was able to let the reader see things from the eyes of a chinese immigrant family. It was kind of like culture shock reading about this family and the things they thought were logical from their cultural viewpoint. Definitely an interesting read.
Apr 02, 2008 Joje rated it really liked it
Wondering if you and Arthur liked this one I sent after teaching it in Grenoble. I still think of it fondly and will read it again when I get my copy back and am retired. I liked how the Chinese speech and thought was rendered, among other things.
Catherine Woodman
Jul 29, 2011 Catherine Woodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the first Asian authors I read and loved it--sad but smart and well written
Jan 02, 2013 Tu rated it really liked it
very well-written with vivid and sensitive descriptions of the immigrant life.
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Textbook description? 1 3 May 23, 2015 07:14PM  
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Timothy Peter Mo is an Anglo-Chinese novelist. H e is the son of a British mother and a Hong Kong Chinese father. He came to britain as a ten year old.
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