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3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  1,824 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Het bewogen leven van een Chinees immigrantengezin in Chinatown, de Chinese wijk van San Francisco. Scherp en barmhartig tegelijk beschrijft Fae Myenne Ng in Bot het leven van het immigrantenechtpaar Mah en Leon, die met hun drie dochters in de Chinese wijk van San Francisco wonen. Beide ouders kunnen in deze nieuwe wereld met hun materiële eisen niet veel meer doen dan we ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Geuzenpocket, 252 pages
Published 1996 by De Geus (first published January 1st 1993)
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Julie Ehlers
Maybe I should change the 3 stars I gave Bone to 4 stars, because I’m still thinking about this book several weeks later. Set in San Francisco, Bone is a tale of strained relations between Chinese immigrant parents and their Chinese-American offspring (three sisters, one of whom, Leila, is our narrator). This theme might put some of readers in mind of the wildly popular The Joy Luck Club, but I think Amy Tan’s book was a bit more idealized than this one. Bone, to me, is grittier and more vivid, ...more
Jan 11, 2017 dianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: san-francisco
This is a story written by the eldest daughter of an immigrant Chinese family in San Francisco. She attempts to please and keep pieces together; imagining - as often oldest children do, that they are responsible for the emotional care and upkeep - of the family - especially in times of crisis. This family sustains the worst kind - the suicide of the middle daughter by jumping off a familiar building.

The tenth day of the Chinese New Year.
“The Day of Thieves. Someone stole Ona. Ona hadn’t wanted
If you (dare!) read and frame this as an identity piece, you will not only be disappointed, but will be enacting violence on bodily marked history and memory.

"He went into his variation on three or four themes: Going back to China, only a bowl of bitterness to show for his life as a coolie. No one grateful. No one compassionate."

Oof! I know that in pain, pleasure still exists in the interstices. But there is too much in this, and too little at the same time.
Feb 26, 2008 Eli rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2008 Aishe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in Asian America
Recommended to Aishe by: Jinzhao Li
Ng's first novel really captures the lives of an intergenerational Chinese American family. Her writing reframes the American dream, complicates it, and reflects more reality than the usual depictions.
Let me start off by saying Bone by Fae Myenne Ng is a good novel. The storyline is interesting, the characters are real, and the choice of words Ng uses to convey ideas to the reader are clean and beautiful. I gave the book 3.5 stars out of 5, though on GoodReads, it will show up as 3 for obvious reasons.

This is the story of two generations in a Chinese family in America. The story is told from the point of view of the eldest child, Leila, who recounts the problems/ issues that plague the famil
Nov 15, 2011 Hayley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fae Myenne Ng’s ‘Bone’ explores two generations of a family. There is Mah, the matriarch, simultaneously tied to Salmon Alley (their pocket of San Francisco’s Chinatown) and to her Chinese origins. The patriarch is Leon, who cannot seem to get ahead in the American capitalistic system. Leon takes odd jobs on ships, consistently changing his geographic location. Ona, moving from her mother’s home, appears to have lost all sense of identity before eventually dying by suicide. Resentful Nina escape ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Zoe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This story is narrated backwards. Why? I don't know. Seemed kind of gimmicky to me. Leila, the (intentionally?) bland narrator, is a dutiful Chinese daughter to her immigrant mother and stepfather. The novel shows her negotiating between her American upbringing and the expectations of her old-world Chinese parents. When tragedy strikes (view spoiler), Leila feels responsible for holding everything together. Thankfully, she has her super-annoyin ...more
Ellyn Lem
Sep 26, 2016 Ellyn Lem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was funny to re-read "Bone" for an ethnic literature class that I am teaching, while simultaneously reading Foer's "Here I am," which also could be included in this class. While Foer's novel was bloated with excess, Ng's work is minimalism as its finest in recounting the story of a second-generation family of girls, living in San Francisco's Chinatown. While students are sometimes put off by the non-linear narrative. . .going back and forth in time with no apparent ordering of events, Ng has ...more
If you read the Asian section of Ronald Takaki's A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, this would be the perfect book to read. Understanding the history of an Asian's life in the United States during the early 1800s to the late 1900s, you would see why this book's family is portrayed the way it was. This historical fiction book is in a confusing order but it is mainly about the family dealing with the death of Ona, who jumped off the thirteenth floor while on drugs. The sorrows ...more
Sylvia Tedesco
We read this as a book group selection this September ('09). Our group had mixed feelings but I thought it well worth reading. The story is so personal and immediate. It seems as if it is a memoire. The action takes place in San Francisco, the family is stuck between first and immigrant generations. I felt the honesty and confusion of these people and the author. The problems of making a living, keeping ties to the family are strongly portrayed. The author has some lovely language, but mostly it ...more
Joel Einfeldt
Hard book for me to read at the beginning, but once I realized it was written, like Leon says about the ships moving 8 miles back to go 1 mile forward, with flash backs as the narrative moved forward, it began to make more sense. I think this book, read in a deconstructionist lens, makes a lot of sense when deconstructing what "bones" are, as they signify the unending discovery of centers in our own lives. Leila, in her hopes of discovering the "bones"/centers of the problems that happen in her ...more
Tova Krakauer
Sep 12, 2016 Tova Krakauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bone lays out every important event in the first chapter and then moves backwards in time from there. The book feels as intimate and strongly personal as a memoir, possibly because of the unadorned writing, the characters boldly but subtly drawn. The backpedaling time frame is deeply moving but maybe also the cause of the book's lack of momentum; there's no intrigue or suspense or even, strictly speaking, character development. Lovely, lovely book but not very interesting.
Dec 30, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was remembering how much I enjoyed the Joy Luck Club and when this book was described as a similarly inter-generational story rich in cultural idiosyncrasies and very thoughtful, that resonated with me. I really enjoyed it; the sense of place and presence was very strong, and the storytelling was wonderful.
Ashley Clark
This novella is about a family in Chinatown, SF. It is beautifully written and very sad, and a great snapshot of life. It meanders, but in a good way. It did not really have a plot, which was fine because it was short. I am very glad I read it, but maybe also because it took two days and therefore was not a lot of cost associated with the output.
Vampire Who Baked
Aug 22, 2016 Vampire Who Baked rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
In theory this is an easy book to review, but there are so many ways to like it (and so many ways to not be impressed) that it is difficult to pick and choose what to focus on.

I struggled a lot (yes-hyperbole-but-you-know-what-I-mean) about whether to rate it as three or four stars. Clearly, it's not the best book I have read- great for a debut novel, but it's a simple story of simple people, simply told, with occasional forays into sentimentality and even melodrama, and lacks the undercurrent o
Laura J. W.
We were a family of three girls. By Chinese standards, that wasn’t lucky. In Chinatown, everyone knew our story. Outsiders jerked their chins, looked at us, shook their heads. We heard things. (p. 1)

Ona, the middle daughter, jumped off the Nam. Leila, her older sister, journeys backwards in her memory about what happened in Salmon Alley, trying to grasp the why — how come? The story is told in a manner that is like a non-linear slide through time, reading the past through Lei’s recollections — o
Jun 15, 2015 Ming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful, gorgeous book. I'm so grateful for Ng's writing and storytelling; it's refreshing and reassuring. I'm in awe of its utter poetry in words and imagery. I found the characters so accessible and the story compelling. I first read this book when it was published but I was so glad to find it recently and re-read it.

(On my soapbox: Ng is an antidote to some so-called popular or mainstream American authors that exoticize (or Orientalize) Asians and especially Americans of Asian des
Meh it's okay
Athena Kennedy
Leila, the first of three daughters born to a Chinese-American family in San Francisco's Chinatown, narrates the story of her family's grief. Leila tells her story backwards, and each successive chapter touches on an event that occurred before the former. The effect is a slow unraveling - events that are distant memories in the beginning are told in detail in the middle, and have not yet occurred in the innocent time of the end chapters.

Central to Leila's story is her middle sister Ona's suicide
Mar 17, 2014 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bone is the first novel by Fae Myenne Ng. It follows the lives of three sisters, as narrated by the oldest, Leila. She and her sisters, Ona and Nina, live in San Francisco with their parents, Mah and Leon. The story is really about how the family is torn apart, and somewhat put back together, by the suicide of Ona.

These are very well constructed characters, it's a short novel, but by the end you grow to care for each and every one of them. But the story itself is fractured, not following a stri
Oct 01, 2016 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
Leila is the eldest of three sisters in a Chinese family living in San Francisco. Her father is no longer around and when her mom remarried, they had two additional daughters. Leila is as close to her half sisters as if they were her full sisters. The youngest sister has moved off to New York, the middle is dating another Chinese guy, and Leila seems to hover around her mom and step-father trying to ensure they are happy.

When the family finds out that the middle sister has committed suicide, th
Paige [eastIndies.]
This novel is very moving, and very impressive for a debut author. The story line takes place in Chinatown in San Fransisco, where Leila, her mother, and her father figure Leon, struggle to come to terms with Leila's sister Ona's suicide. The weaving of different events from the past and the present complete this tale, although it can sometimes be confusing. Nevertheless, the end comes together beautifully and the theme is very apparent. What I think I loved most about this book was the way the ...more
Jun 23, 2007 Ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings on this book. It was the second book chosen by my book group (the first was Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake"), and I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own. Ng's writing style is incredibly short and choppy. We're talking five-word sentences: she even hacks what would be grammatically correct sentences into fragments disctractingly separated by periods. For that reason, I found it really hard to get started. I learned to read through it better as I went along, and did ...more
Feb 05, 2011 Alisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
It's not bad, exactly, but I didn't enjoy it very much. The narrator is a Chinese-American woman living in Chinatown stuck between the old and the new way of life, literally represented by her mother's apartment (where her stepfather doesn't live most of the time, though they are still married) and her boyfriend/fiancé/husband's apartment outside Chinatown. It's told backwards, so we begin in the present & move back just a few years with each chapter; catastrophic family events are hinted at ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It is a bout a Chinese-American family and how each members deals with the grief and guilt they have over the narrator's sister's suicide. The story is told backwards in time, with each new chapter skipping backward a few years in time, which worked for me. I really loved the characters and felt I got to know each one of them just a bit. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of Chinatown and I thought being let in to the world of being a Chinese immigrant ...more
Feb 23, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Not life altering, but some nice writing, short and sweet, and an interesting cultural perspective from within my own city. There were two annoying parts: 1) while she undoubtedly knows SF very well, it's almost like the info she includes is unnecessarily formalized. Like, who refers to bus lines as "the number 15 Kearny" and "the number 14 Mission"? Who says "I turned onto Stockton Street" instead of "I turned onto Stockton?" Besides that, I thought that the mixed up chronology was a little con ...more
Michelle J
Jun 25, 2016 Michelle J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found out about this book through school. Over the summer I had to pick 1 out of 4 books and do a project on it for my AP English class.
At first it was a little confusing on where the location was and who some of the people were, but after a while you sort of get into a rhythm and just know what is going on. There were also a ton of flashbacks. Every few pages would be a different time period. I actually found this style of writing interesting, I liked how it kept jumping around and you get to
Jordan Cummings
This book had many good elements to it. Although I didn’t enjoy the structure of the book, I still thought it was a decent enough read. There are often flashbacks and the sequence of events is out of order, so that made it a little hard to read. But the actual story-line was pretty good. It was about a Chinese family, living in San Francisco, who is trying to get over the suicidal death of one of the children, Ona. Each member of the family has a different reaction to the death of Ona, and it wa ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Scotch rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(Mild spoilers) Some flourishes of beautiful descriptions. The characters felt too easy to be summed up—archetypes of a struggling mother, father and family—with the complexities of first generation experience made a little too neat with three representative daughters: the one who ran away (resisted parent culture), the one who was trapped and ends her life (was smothered by it), and the one who feels responsible (embraces it but also feels obligated). The latter of which felt like the least int ...more
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Fae Myenne Ng (born December 2, 1956 in San Francisco) is an American novelist, and short story writer.

She is a first-generation Chinese American author whose debut novel Bone told the story of three Chinese American daughters growing up in her real childhood hometown of San Francisco Chinatown. Her work has received support from the American Academy of Arts & Letters' Rome Prize, the Lila Wal
More about Fae Myenne Ng...

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“I believe in holding still. I believe that the secrets we hold in our hearts are our anchors, that even the unspoken between us is a measure of our every promise to the living and to the dead. And all our promises, like all our hopes, move us through life with the power of an ocean liner pushing through the sea.” 1 likes
“One truth opened another. Ona still shaded everything we did. Ona's death was the last family affair. I'd seen Man suffer. I'd seen her break. Now more than anything. I wanted to see her happy.” 0 likes
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