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Diamond Grill

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
This story of family and identity, migration and integration, culture and self-discovery is told through family history, memory, and the occasional recipe. Diamond Grill is a rich banquet where Salisbury Steak shares a menu with chicken fried rice, bird’s nest soup sets the stage for Christmas plum pudding; where racism simmers behind the shiny clean surface of the action ...more
Published September 1st 2006 by NeWest Press (first published 1996)
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Mar 08, 2014 Aaron rated it it was ok
Maybe I'm just sick of literature. Everything you read has to be such a chore. It feels almost like a cruel joke sometimes. We basically have a text that is non linear, post modern and totally unconventional. It even deploys (at least for me) one of the most confusing things to explain to people, the family tree, as central to the story; "My sister's Swedish half brothers three step daughters grandmother's niece". I liked the incoherent poetry the most. Let's sit down and and decipher this. That ...more
Mar 29, 2012 Rema rated it it was amazing
Timesless Classic: Fred Wah sews together a patchwork of monologues consisting of faded bio-fiction-prose-poetry memories, growing up mixed in a Chinese restaurant in Nelson, BC. One of my all-time favs4life ♥

"How many cousins do I have, I wonder. Thousands maybe. How could we recognize one another? Names. The food, the names, the geography, the family history - the filiated dendrita of myself displayed before me. I can't escape, and don't want to, for a moment. Being there, in Lawrence's kitche
Nov 11, 2007 yoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: food lovers and those with complex feelings about family
Shelves: school
Every time I read a book by a 2nd+ generation Asian writer there is an automatic connection: food and family are paramount to our understandings of our selves. Wah's book is no different. One quarter Chinese, in this book he traces the lives of his grandfather, his father, and himself through the Canadian cafes each man owned, the foods he ate, and the impact each had upon the other.

This book is written as a collection of "biotexts," short poetic prose pieces that provide snapshots into the Wah
Jun 22, 2007 Paolo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.
A brilliant and inspiring biotext about growing up a quarter Chinese in the all-too-homogenous interior of B.C., Canada. As a memory act, the writing pulls back and pushes itself forward through the years of Wah's childhood working for his father at the Diamond Grill. In a previous interview, Wah speaks of his desire to break free of his fears of 'the tyranny of prose', and in the process of composing this book, breaks new ground for the form. It's my third time returning to this work, and I can ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school, thesis-reads
I have to say this book was really interesting. I like the way the book was written and how it was very fragmented. I found that Wah kept your interest and really made an interesting story for the reader . Sometimes it was annoying that he kept telling you the same story but it all played into the idea that he was telling people memories from his childhood. I found that this novel was quite interesting and kept you reading.
Jun 24, 2010 Val rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful biotext about the historical effects of racism on ChineseHYPHENCanadians in Canada (read: Chinese Immigration Law) and how the author, who can visibly "pass" as white, is affected by it in trying to define himself in his mixed heritage. Set in a diner, it ties in recipes (which I need to try!) and links memory to food to talk about the culture.
May 06, 2012 Patricia rated it really liked it
Just beautiful.
Mar 20, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Funny and insightful. An excellent book if you want to learn about multiculturalism, hybridity, or just laugh your ass off.
Apr 05, 2009 Terri rated it it was amazing
Excellent book!
Micaela Muldoon
Feb 02, 2017 Micaela Muldoon rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
2.5 stars. The writing style made this very difficult to get through -- many disjunctive blocks of memory, lots of telling rather than showing, and quite a bit of repetition from one "chapter" to the next, as well. The bits of personal and family history were interesting all the same.
Derek Newman-Stille
Feb 23, 2013 Derek Newman-Stille rated it liked it
Shelves: can-lit
Wah creates a recipe for himself in this text, intertwining ideas of ethnicity with imagery of food. But, like any good recipe, it is a subjective piece, forming a rough guideline by the chef, and therefore constantly subject to revision, change, and the mix of the experience in the kitchen.

Despite the use of recipe imagery and the interplay with identity, Wah complicates the idea of an easy ascription to identity. It is not a simple mixing of elements of experience, but rather something that is
Mar 30, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
Confucianism didn't seem to be as diluted as Wah seems to make things out. I didn't get much of a sense about his mother's side of life. Certainly, it was a struggle being a Swedish immigrant here, minus the head tax. As an immigrant to this country, I feel connected to Wah's tales but at the same time, I'm concerned that the struggles of identity he faced hasn't changed. I am physically from the East but my mind is made in the West but I think my soul will always carry a portion of the old coun ...more
Elizabeth Chang
Feb 05, 2017 Elizabeth Chang rated it liked it
Shelves: school, reviews, 2016, 3-stars
Okay, firstly....a disclaimer. I didn't read the entire book so if you're looking for a "full" review of this book, skip this one!

Secondly, I read a couple of poems from this book in my writing class because we were doing a unit on food.

This book was sometimes amusing, sometimes relatable, sometimes thought-provoking, but they were all (the ones I read, anyway) fun to read.

I like how each poem was like a short story-completely unrelated to the last one-but they were all connected to this one guy
Dec 05, 2015 Marmot rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. I got it out as I like local history books from the Nelson area, and was not expecting the poetic style used here. However, I found reading it to be a lot more enjoyable than most of the other poetry I've ever read. I liked how I understood the story, but the presentation was more like wandering thorough your own mind or memories, not linear, not grammatically correct, but in the end you "get" it. I even looked up in my phone book to see if there are any descendants st ...more
Fred Wah's stories of his childhood growing up as the son of a "Canadian-born Chinese-Scots-Irishman raised in China" and a Swedish-born Canadian from Swift Current. Wah's father ran the Diamond Grill, and it provides the setting for most of the vignettes in the book.

Fred Wah is a poet, and often incorporates prose poetry into his vignettes - sometimes the device works, and sometimes it ends up detracting from the story. Either way, this is a quick and enjoyable read that deals with questions of
This has been the most literary local history book I've read. It's a memoir written as breezy prose poetry. It took a long time to read, since each page was a separate story/poem, so I couldn't rely on the momentum of a single narrative to pull me through many pages at a time. It was pleasing, though, to wade through a series of poetic impressions.
This sensitive and thoughtful memoir has bonded me even more to this small town.
Feb 26, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
The thing about prose poetry is, when it works, it really works. When it doesn't? It REALLY doesn't. This book would fall into the latter category, but I had to finish it since it was for class. I just found it annoying and pointless.
Oct 28, 2014 Allison rated it liked it
I'm usually not a fan of poetic prose but I liked the way the words flowed, even if I didn't understand some of what Wah was trying to say (haha). The stuff I did get was about hyphenation and race and memories, which was moving.
Nov 13, 2008 Ethan rated it liked it
Story of a Chinese-Canadian man, a poet, growing up in a diner his family ran. Devolves into stream of consciousnesses from time to time, but otherwise is pretty easy to follow. Again, maybe check your library.
Aug 17, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true piece of Canadian classic literature. The story was second to the fantastic writing by Fred Wah, a true poet for the ages. Part poem, biography, recipe book, history lesson, protest, Diamond Grill demands to be heard
Caitlin Hart
Mar 14, 2016 Caitlin Hart rated it liked it
Odd at times, poetic at other points, I enjoyed this book, but I'm not rushing out to recommend it to friends
Apr 25, 2012 V. rated it it was ok

Pensé que me iba a gustar más, pero al final no me he enterado de mucho. Entre que no he entendido muchas expresiones y que de repente te habla de una cosa y después de otra…
Mary Stregger
Jan 06, 2012 Mary Stregger rated it really liked it
This is definitely a cross between poetry & prose and, if you find non-linear plots uncomfortable, don't try this one. Overall, I enjoyed the beauty of this work.
Naveera Ahmed
Naveera Ahmed rated it it was amazing
Feb 22, 2013
Morag Mcconchie
Morag Mcconchie rated it really liked it
Dec 03, 2007
Trevor rated it it was ok
Nov 28, 2012
Brian rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2015
Genevieve rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2008
Bailey Cundiff
Bailey Cundiff rated it it was ok
Jul 24, 2014
Jacklyn rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2017
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Fred Wah has been involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line. Recent books are the biofiction Diamond Grill (1996), Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity (2000), a collection of essays, and Sentenced to Light (2008), a collection of poetic image/text projects. He splits his time between the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. and Vancouver.
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“Sipping underneath that wet, burned rice after dinner in his gaze is some long night far away on the other side of earth in other eyes and other pots burned hot in the charcoal clay stove flickered light from the lit dry grass under the same stars fields of rice and water Pacific Ocean end of murmured sadness jumped intestinal interstices, bisected, circulated, tongue's crack, crossed into gut, guttered now between the pages of this book the floating gaze and taste burnt right through to the spine.” 0 likes
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