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Disappearing Moon Cafe

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  445 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Sometimes funny, sometimes scandalous, always compelling, this extraordinary first novel chronicles the women of the Wong family from frontier railroad camps to modern-day Vancouver. As past sins and inborn strengths are passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter, each generation confronts, in its own way, the same problems — isolation, racism, and the clash of cul ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 9th 2006 by Douglas & McIntyre (first published September 1st 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 961)
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Sep 01, 2008 Erica rated it liked it
As a feminist writer, Sky Lee uses the familiar Chinese-Canadian novel format of weaving together the stories of different generations, to highlight Chinese women's struggles for independence. The story hops between past and present, slowly piecing together all the dirty family secrets (suicide, adultery, incest..).

The novel is very plot-driven, and I found myself losing interest because the characters were very flat - like stepmothers in a fairy tale. The elements of historical fiction were in
Jun 10, 2013 Cecilia rated it it was ok
Weirdest book ever. I actually read the first half, but I scanned a significant amount of the second half. The family drama part was interesting, but the suicide, murder, and racial tension plots weren't. The family tree was ridiculously confusing and since there were so many characters, I didn't feel like I really got to know any of them, though Lee does an admirable job of character development with beautiful prose.

The one good thing about it was the lyrical prose and literary elements. If yo
Feb 26, 2015 Lbaker rated it it was ok
Shelves: canadian, historical
At first I was having a hard time keeping names and characters straight, but after a while and after flipping to the useless family tree at the beginning I just didn't care anymore.

The characters were inter-changable, female characters were weak when young and nasty when old, male characters were weak all through. The lovers were sad and the lives of these people unreal.

I did not get attached to any characters deep enough to care if their life fell apart, if they killed themselves or just ruin
Elizabeth Chang
Apr 16, 2016 Elizabeth Chang rated it liked it
Shelves: school, reviews, 2016
Ah. English novels. What fun.

This was an interesting kind of book. Although...I can't say for sure if it was the good kind or the bad. This book was set in Vancouver and written in chunks...or, unchronologically. And this just made reading the book plain weird. Or, confusing.

Kae, the narrator of the story...has a very messed up and complicated family history, and this novel follows her as she tells of her ancestors' troubles.

Frankly, not all the stories were interesting, but I did like Fong Mei
Jan 14, 2009 Lesliemae rated it it was ok
Recommended to Lesliemae by: Andrew Lesk
January 2009
I have finished reading this book for the second time and am contemplating it more this time in the manner of maps/genealogy/cartography - basically ways that people have solidified and legitimized their existence, place and by extension identity. However, maps hardly represent the true story behind their creation. I'm looking into some theory dealing with the legitimizing but also fictionalizing aspects of mapping out your existence.

Book is more interesting from this standpoint.

Jennifer Swapp
Mar 02, 2012 Jennifer Swapp rated it liked it
My preparation for my trip to Vancouver, BC led me to this book. It was a heart wrenching book, not allowing for much hope in the arena of human nature. I did learn through the process of reading the book a lot of the Chinese migration to the Gold Mountains- both CA and BC. I didn't know there was such a large pollution of Chinese in the vAncouver area.
I was stunned by the seemingly cruel way in which the women would speak to their children, and daughter-in-law, yet it seemed familiar. It remin
Chelsea Merkl
Sep 18, 2014 Chelsea Merkl rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was a good mix between fiction and raising awareness of the realities of being Chinese-Canadian. The author skillfully moves between story lines and makes you want to know more about their stories and struggles. Without even realizing it, the author is telling the reader about the very real struggles of Chinese families that came to America and how they had a hard time even forming their own identities.
Jul 31, 2013 Lesley rated it really liked it
This is a really great read. Fortunately, I think I got more out of it because of the class I'm currently taking. At first, I didn't understand why incest had to play a role. However, upon learning more about the History of Chinese immigration in Canada, it all made perfect sense. As there were few to no Chinese women around and there was no new immigrants coming, it was inevitable that the pool would shrink. I also learned about the history or Chinatowns and that hoped the story make more sense ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Helgaklassen rated it it was ok
I found this book hard to follow. There were some interesting parts, and some of the author's descriptions were great, but I just lost interest.
Jan 08, 2016 D.L. rated it liked it
Liked it enough to finish, but don't feel the need to recommend it or re-read.
Last Night's Readings
Jul 18, 2013 Last Night's Readings rated it really liked it
As a recent newcomer to Canada, the book resonated with my feelings of having family and friends far away. It also guided me in a way with the manner in which family dramas progress in the novel, how one thing can change the course of a family. If you're looking for a read with a balance of both the past, the present, and the future, with ties to a far off home country, and assimilating to a new one, with the echoes of culture on it's heels, look no further than the Disappearing Moon Cafe.
Jun 23, 2007 marissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A multi-generational tale of family obligation and family secrets, this book is also noteworthy for its exploration of the Chinese population of early Vancouver. Like in many Asian books, there's a sense of tragedy that permeates the lives of the characters and the entire story, the inevitability of fate and death and destruction. Disappearing Moon concentrates a little more heavily than I like on these negatives, but is still worth a read.
Zena V.
Mar 06, 2010 Zena V. rated it really liked it
Good book, beautiful and intriguing. Four generations of Chinese-Canadian women, the culture, the lives and the men, the prejudice, and their relationships to each other. Slightly confusing at points, but there is a nice little graph at the beginning to help you figure out who is who. Sky Lee was compared to Marquez when this was first published. I can definitely see the influence.
Sep 29, 2010 Jodi rated it it was amazing
I just randomly picked this one up off the floor of our apartment and couldn't put it down. Really well written, shocking and tragic at times...even made me cry at one point. I love reading about the history of Vancouver from different perspectives...really makes me view it in a whole different light.
Oct 12, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
Interesting book. I liked how Lee showed the different stories and perspectives from everyone in the novel. I liked that she showed the different generations and how things came to be. I'd recommend this book, it paints a good picture of Chinese culture in the 1920's.
Read this book a couple years ago and had a good read through it with references to Vancouver. But also seeing how the family evolves from generation and the challenges/situations they face through their diversity and surrounding culture of their time. Recommend.
Apr 29, 2010 Linda rated it it was ok
Terribly confusing family tree made more so by jumping around with time lines and character perspectives. At the very end the strange family tree did make some sense. Chinese immigrants in Canada and their family ties.
Sep 03, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-books, fiction
I think what I love most about this book is that the stories are never quite complete, that even after returning to each one for the last time, the reader knows that there is still more to tell.
Jan 09, 2013 Christina rated it liked it
"He imagined the mountain shuddering, roaring out in pain, demanding human sacrifice for this profanity. And the real culprits held out blood-spattered chinamen like a protective talisman" - page 16
Mar 19, 2010 Joy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-books
Writing about incest, family scandal and treachery takes a gifted writer to keep the story afloat. Although Sky Lee is talented, I she isn't able to keep this story from slogging
Feb 13, 2012 Sherri rated it did not like it
I couldn't finish this book as it didn't hold my interest. Too choppy and confusing and not enough character depth. I was hoping to support a local author but her story fell flat.
Apr 18, 2013 Kaiti rated it liked it
it was pretty hard to follow all the jumping around in time and shifts between narrators and such, but the story itself was interesting enough to keep me going.
Johanna Lauer
Apr 12, 2013 Johanna Lauer rated it liked it
Thrilling, but confusing - too many characters on too many different temporal levels. I only got it when I read it the second time.
Linda Olson
Try as I might, I could not stay focused on this book. May be the wrong time to read it, or maybe it will never grab my interest.
Feb 26, 2010 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kinda dumb. I figured out the whole secret pages before it was actually revealed, so as result, I didn't really finish the book.
Sep 21, 2015 Becca rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-novels
An excellent, enticing subtly feminist novel with mystery and intrigue and complex character development. I really enjoyed it.
Aug 09, 2010 Canuckgal rated it it was amazing
The Ice Storm...Chinese-style. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was engaged from the start.
Jun 24, 2010 Val rated it did not like it
A hard-to-follow story about a family with secrets in Vancouver's Chinatown.
Dec 26, 2008 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Chinese immigration, Canada, hard work
Feb 18, 2009 Michele rated it liked it
compelling, but a little outlandish
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Sky Lee (born September 15, 1952 in Port Alberni, British Columbia) is a Canadian artist and novelist. Lee has published both feminist fiction and non-fiction and identifies as lesbian.

Lee was first published as the illustrator of 1983's children's book, Teach Me to Fly, Skyfighter! by Paul Yee. The book is a collection of four stories exploring what it is like to grow up as a Chinese-Canadian in
More about Sky Lee...

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