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Monkey King

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Monkey King" tells the story of a young Chinese-American woman whose mental breakdown and sojourn in a hospital for rehabilitation sets her firmly on the path of memory. For 28-year-old Sally Wang has come to a dead stop in her life, and it is through her recollections of her childhood -- and the stories of her extended Chinese family -- that she manages to find the streng ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published January 19th 2000 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published February 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 307)
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Tress Huntley
For a first novel this was decently written, although still kind of workshoppy. By that I mean a not-entirely-polished story featuring all of the requisite writing class elements: shocking family secrets, mental illness, casual sexual encounters, highly specific references to meaningless geographical reference points (i.e., the chocolate chip cookie stand in Quincy Market). It was passable, but I felt like I'd read it many times before. I've probably even written it a few times. Maybe in the lat ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My notes: Very good read, story line and flashbacks well-woven, good character development, but errors in logic broke the chain -- annoying!

An example, which seems petty now that I look back on it, but has stayed with me as a reminder of what not to let happen in my own writing, is this:

...whip past my father, down the hall, back to my own room and into the closet where I sit hunched on the floor, hands crossed over my chest, willing my heart to stop pounding. Out the window I notice the Cuddy
Feb 09, 2012 Karo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Monkey King was recommended to me by someone who had noticed that I liked memoir-style writing. Written in the first person, the novel explores the relationships that Sally, the protagonist, has with her mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and uncle, and of course, father. The portions of the book dealing with Sally's mental illness are very real, quite frightening, in fact. For some reason, the detail that Sally's handwriting became illegible as she slipped closer and closer to becoming completel ...more
Sep 20, 2010 Alix rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Overall, this was a very good read and well worth the time. In some respects it was a bit disturbing with some very heavy subjects, but the narrative was well done and the characters were well-developed and interesting. I enjoyed the mix of cultures (American and Chinese), although I probably would have gotten more out of it if I had known more about the Chinese culture. Some parts were painful to read, but as the main character reveals more of her history, the story bits fall together into one ...more
Anita George
I read about 2/3's of this then put it aside. It has a good premise, but does nothing at all with it. Ostensibly, it uses Chinese culture and legend to elucidate a fairly generic story about an incest survivor who suffers depression and attempts suicide, but the author really did nothing with the Chinese cultural/mythological element that informs the title. Why does the daughter see the father as "Monkey king" in particular? I could never figure that out (I did flip through the remaining pages t ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Gerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emotional problems seem to abound in my reading lately. In this novel, narrator is a young woman who was sexually abused by her father, who later committed suicide. After several suicidal gestures of her own, she’s being treated in hospital for depression. Not great, not bad.
amelia valdez
Engrossing and captivating, up to a certain point. I was there, totally there, but then in went on for 50 more pages.

The story is one of mental illness, of dealing with your issues the best you know how, even if that involves professional help. this book deals with those issues directly, honestly, and with purpose. And I suppose that in real life the healing process goes on for longer than one would want too, so I won't hold those last pages in too much contempt.

Worth the time but it won't cha
Nov 16, 2009 Quinn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books
A drab and boring story about a Chinese woman who suffers from depression because of the sexual molestation by her father. Sally (the Chinese woman) struggles with coming to terms with her poor childhood and the confusion of being raised in a Chinese family living in America.

I thought this book could have been very good and the I thought "Part One" was good but after that the book just spun it's tiny wheels. Read part one and then skip to the last chapter and you will still know what is going on
Nov 07, 2008 Anomy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of my favorite books (there are a lot of those). The opening is so chilling, the way that American and Chinese culture clashes in this novel is stunning, and I really felt I was right beside Sally the entire time.
Mar 23, 2009 Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, china, health
I remember this as being a very thoughtful and interesting book about the attitude to suicide and mental health within a Chinese family. The relationships are not simple but the characters are easy to feel sympathy for.
Adela Carmona
May 25, 2012 Adela Carmona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely honest and intense read about a dark subject of molestation and the affects of it once she grows up.
Sian Taylor
So glad I picked this up again, really enjoyed this book the second time around.
May 26, 2009 S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, not great, would rather read the Bell Jar, ending kind of a cop out.
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“My mother folded each pair of trousers over her arm, pulling the legs out so that the creases lay perfectly. She handles clothes meticulously. S did Nai-nai. But there was a difference in attitude. To my grandmother, clothes held a kind of magic--they could change your destiny one way or the other. To my mother, they were servile, like farm animals in China. Treat them well and they'll perform their function.” 0 likes
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