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The Barbarians are Coming
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The Barbarians are Coming

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Winner of the 2000 Book Award in Prose from the Association for American Studies and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for 2002!The award-winning author of Pangs of Love triumphs with "a work that manages to be consistently funny, infinitely sad, and surprisingly exhilarating... truly memorable." (Newsday)
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Berkley
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 378)
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What's happened to David Wong Louie?

This was a gem of a book, and all the better, like a discovery of a hidden stash of chocolate, because I came in with middling expectations. I'd heard of him when I was in college..along with Maxine Hong Kingston et al. But since then...nada. Book jacket says that he's the author of the short story collection Pangs of Love, a New York Times Notable Book of 1991 and a Voice Literary Supplement Favorite of the same year. Mr. Louie apparently lives in Venice, Ca
JJ Warren
I randomly found this book at a thrift store and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. This book was very well written. I immediately loved the style of writing which was smart and descriptive, using the most beautiful, creative or witty metaphors throughout. The author gave the main character, Sterling, such a sensitivity and insight into human emotion, including into his own depth of self. I learned quite a bit about Chinese culture. There were moments that were fast paced, funny, and o ...more
This is one of those hidden gems. This book is difficult to read because it is so "ugly", brutal and honest. No character in this book is very likeable, with exception to the children. But I feel the author poured his heart into this book (maybe wrote from personal experience?). This is an exceptionally realistic look into Asian-American culture, particularly the ABCs (American born Chinese) or first generation kids with immigrant parents. The protagonist is male. He is a professional chef, a jo ...more
A good but, in my view, flawed work. What works well is the voice of the narrator, Sterling Lung, a Chinese-American chef who would rather cook French haute cuisine than the food everyone assumes he would be expert at preparing. His strained and strange relationship with his wife, Bliss, has some rich and dark humor, as does his depiction of his relationship with his Chinese parents, whose weird American sobriquets, Genius and Zsa Zsa, belie their decidedly old country origins and attitudes. Wha ...more
I loved this book most of the way through, then felt it devolved into predictability and soap opera toward the end - although to Louie's credit, he did not eventually take the easy way out. Sterling Lung is American-born Chinese, a French chef who refuses his parents' desire that he be a good Chinese son and his patrons' desire that he be a Chinese chef. "Can't you make a Happy Family?" one diner asks. Well, that's what this book is about: the hard, sometimes twisted, spoken and unspoken, secret ...more
Louie's work is a prime example of a style that Mark McGurl would call 'The Program Era', florid, intense, thoughtful writing that seems taught by an academic for an educated audience, something that swirls around university circles. The book is full of characters that may not be likeable, but are undeniably human in their weaknesses, like passive, pretty-much-useless Sterling and his domineering, bossy girlfriend. However, I do like section three, about his father's past - it gives the reader i ...more
The writing kept me glued to the book, and being a first-generation Asian American probably helped... especially with the part about the parents non-communicativeness about their pasts... I don't know if making up what might have happened/could have happened is necessary. But I liked the descriptions of what were going on in Sterling's head. That, I could emphasize with to a certain point, but not the part about the Chinese food tv program...

Do writers think about political correctness while th
A really interesting Asian American read about a first generation Chinese male who gets conflicted between his desire to branch away from his ethnicity as a cook and take on a life as an American. It's an explicit and vulnerable read that pokes at many challenges faced by early generation Asian Americans, particularly those that are the first born in the US. One of the few books in its genre that I could not put down the second I opened it, very much close to home in more than one way.
This book wasn't really my thing, since there was such a tight focus on food and family. I did like the focus on an Asian-American experience. The protagonist was a little too emo, and some of the humor triggered my embarrassment squick. But I don't regret reading this, because some of the stuff struck a nerve of recognition, and got things just right. I reacted in similar ways to reading Amy Tan.
Mini Review/Notes: Sterling was an absolute wimp who though only of himself until the very end, and even that required both his son and father to die. A very bleak and frustrating story of Chinese immigrants and ABCs in America. The one good point goes to the chapter dedicated to Genius's first 8 years in the US without his family.
Giving up on ethnic books for a while. OK story, but best part was a couple of hastily tossed out list of ingredients for dishes I ate as a child, but whose recipes I never got from my Mother, so I was very happy to find them. Not a memorable sentence in 300+ pages, I'd like a little more for my effort.
Lisa Murray
I desperately wanted to enjoy this, but the self-indulgent masturbation scene with the protagonist spurting all over the rich women's club and the later rawness were too much--definitely unfinished. I had no idea what I was getting into or I wouldn't have started this book at all.
this started out good, but 2/3 into the book it switches to the father's perspective, which is really boring. Couldn't quite get back into it after the book resumes from the son's viewpoint. Am almost done but loosing interest...some of the plot points seem pretty unrealistic.
Really enjoyed this book. Great description by the author, I could imagine every scene as I read it. I could relate to most things, so that's a +.The ending was quite abrupt, ending too early. I hope there is a continuation to this story.
Amy Medina
So far it is a bit slow, but I cannot stop reading it. I am reading other books along with this one, which may explain why I am not fully enjoying it.
Interesting look at Chinese-American family conflict. Well written and thoughtful.
The characters feel real but they are not all that likable but good ABC read.
enjoyed this one - hope the writer continues with more works
Really great for the first two thirds but the end was disappointing.
Good but a little dark.
Lauren Silverman
This book is really funny!
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David Wong Louie (雷祖威; pinyin: Léi Zǔwēi) is an American writer of novels and short stories. His works include "Pangs of Love" a collection of short stories, and the novel "The Barbarians are Coming." He co-edited "A Contemporary Asian American Anthology" with Marilyn Chin. He teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He received an M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing from
More about David Wong Louie...
Pangs of Love The Barbarians Are Coming Reader's Guide Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World (An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction-- Revised and Updated)

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“Feast or famine. My plate is suddenly full.” 3 likes
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