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Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  601 ratings  ·  91 reviews
An uproarious debut that lays bare the complicated generational relationships of Chinese American women.

Raucous twin sisters Moonie and Mei Ling Wong are known as the “double happiness” Chinese food delivery girls. Each day they load up a “crappy donkey-van” and deliver Americanized (“bad”) Chinese food to homes throughout their southern California neighborhood. United in
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 21st 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published July 20th 2009)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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Elevate Difference
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Forget fairytales and fables that threaten rape and violence to women who go off the beaten path, deny their parents, or refuse to marry. Marilyn Chin's novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, doesn't lock away its female protagonists into a tower so a prince can climb up their hair and doesn't ask the women to honor and obey their parents. Instead, Chin's twin protagonists are riot grrrls of the immigrant set: they take on everything from gender and sexuality to Chinese mythology and the immigran ...more
Angie
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism, 2009
"The structure of this book is based on ancient Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation and the eternal cycles of suffering.... The characters are all trapped in a vicious cycle of reincarnation. The cycle of suffering is continuous. The oppression of women is continuous. Fleshly desire, which leads to suffering, is continuous.... Moonie and Mei Ling appear to be well-adjusted adolescents: narcissistic, hardworking, high-achievers on their way to acquiring the American Dream. When they will reach enli ...more
MJ Nicholls
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: merkins, distaff, novels
Highly original and inventive "manifesto in 41 tales" with a heavily feminist bent. The tales are drawn from Buddhist texts and a platter of Chinese folklore, updated for a modern audience (i.e. fellatio and naughty bits).

Tone-wise the stories present a gritty or whimsical look at first-generation Chinese immigrant life, a stylised satire of over-sexed second-generation teenage life, and a fantastical world of vaginas with teeth, fox metamorphoses and ninja grandmas.

Very funny and refreshing.
Gregory
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This is the most awesome Asian American Immigrant Magical Realism Extravaganza complete with occasional soft-core porn EVER!
tatterpunk
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually review on this site, because there's already such a plethora of smart, involved reviewers.

But the showing for this particular book is SHAMEFUL, and it's one of my favorites. So here's what I wrote about it once upon a time.

Moon grew up, lost weight and became a famous singer, which proves that there is no justice in the universe, or that indeed, there is justice. Your interpretation of the denouement mostly depends on your race, creed, hair color, social and economic class an
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Jaymee
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
Near perfect. Irreverent and fun, wordplay without the annoying postmodern garbage (well mostly), light yet rooted, still, in ancient folklore, Buddhist scriptures, or simply Chinese beliefs, and in the Great American Dream. Sometimes the narrative is jumbled up which, instead of being a clever parody, only feels like "I'm-too-tired-to-research-this" or "there-isn't-enough-material-on-this." Still, I wish I read this before I read all the other contemporary Asian American works.
Kate
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Marilyn Chin is coming to campus in a few weeks, so I'm teaching this book in my fiction-writing class.
Sarah Sammis
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Got tired to the crude humor at the expense of plot.
Michelle Sousa
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I began reading this book in 2014 and couldn't make sense of the plot. I was forcing a continuous timeline when one didn't actually exist. I contacted the author (prior professor at SDSU) to get more insight about the book and her style of writing. She asked me to finish the book and contact her again once I had read it completely.

I couldn't wrap my head around the crude writing and in a way I felt slightly insulted every time I read it. I set the book down for over a year and finished the last
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Anna
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Raucous, bawdy, political without apologies. This book is a mosaic of a novel about twin Chinese-American sisters and their cleaver-wielding grandmother with pointed updates of classical Chinese writings. I haven't found a book which so deftly pushed my buttons in a while — vengeful female ghosts, folklore adaptations, surprise martial arts moves, and a cheerful disregard for men's feelings and thoughts. My one small critique is that some of the politics/references read as a tiny bit dated; albe ...more
Sunny
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is not your grandmother's Asian American immigrant story. This is (as another reviewer put it) sexy, witty, poetic, and profane. It's not a straightforward narrative and there's a quite a bit retelling of Buddhist and zen stories. You might especially enjoy it if you're a Chinese American academic swimming in bullshit, a rebellious former or current immigrant girlchild, or a lover of the profane.
Hez
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good. A bit too pornographic, but who am I kidding?
Umbreen
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. It was hilarious, and it managed to reveal important truths amongst its dry witticisms.
laipeen
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
I fail to appreciate the merits of the book. It just did not speak to me. The story was disjointed, I did not enjoy the style, and I could not relate at all to any of the characters.
Meave
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this more. There were some stories that were very, very funny, and a couple that were very sad, but the majority of them didn't really affect me one way or the other. I don't know why I expected this to be a novel rather than a collection of stories and fables, but I can't hold my misinformed disappointment against it.

Marilyn Chin can write, and she did make me think, again, about a Chinese immigrant's experience in America; I've had a couple boyfriends who were first-gen
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Jan
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I put this on the LBGT shelf (which I mean to change to the LGBTQIA shelf just as soon as I figure out how) because one of the two protagonists seems asexual for much of the story, but has an affair with another woman toward the end. The other protagonist (twin sister to the first) is aggressively heterosexual, and I wouldn't say that queer sexuality is a major theme here. It's nice to see one character happen to be queer, though.

The big theme is the second-generation immigrant experience in Ame
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Nicole
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, feminism
Not quite what I expected, but this was a fun and easy read. I don't usually enjoy short stories, but this collection felt rather less disjointed than most as the stories all featured recurring characters (primarily the twins: Moonie and Mei Ling; and their grandmother: The Great Matriarch). Very sexual at times and always funny, my copy includes a "Postscript/Some Notes" by the author at the back which help with understanding some of the cultural references in the 41 tales. Despite (or, perhaps ...more
Sophia
Aug 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: china, 2010, coming-of-age
Don't let the cover fool you—The Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen is more manifesto than novel. There is no linear plot, but rather a series of 41 loosely interconnected stories about two Chinese American twins Moonie and Mei Ling, their dominating grandmother, and the family "Double Happiness" restaurant. Poet and novelist Marilyn Chin is a master wordsmith blending Chinese words and legends with rich colorful language in fantastical tales that span the girls' coming of age. There's a lot of symbo ...more
Alison
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-read

Brilliant and hilarious, the story of two take-no-shit Wing-Chun fighting matriarchal-familied twins, Mei Ling and Moonie. The twins are Chinese-American; they are roughly portrayed as the naughty sister and industrious sister, but not really. They are more like parts of the same whole.

Moonie is sexually assaulted in Chapter 1, brutally and painfully assaulted and devalued. But this incident does not define her; in fact, it is easy to forget that this even took place in the aftermath of the st
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Abby
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen is an exuberant read. The book is billed as a "novel," though it also self-identifies as a manifesto. The "story," if we can really call it that (read this book for its poetic qualities--not for story), follow twins Moon and Mei Ling, born in San Francisco as a "yin and yang" duo. They are primarily raised by their grandmother and help her run a Chinese restaurant. The story is non-linear and comprised of short vignettes interspersed with satiric retellings of Chine ...more
Cheryl Klein
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Moonie and Mei Ling Wong are the modern day heroines of Chin's riffs on ancient Chinese folklore and (to a subtler extent) immigrant coming-of-age novels. They're overachievers who chafe under their cleaver-wielding grandmother's rule, but Moonie has a few cleaver-esque revenge fantasies of her own, and Mei Ling never met a boy she didn't want to sleep with, even as she teaches post-colonial feminist lit by day. They're both tricksters and tricked; their personalities and timelines morph to fit ...more
Rebecca
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me a bit to get into this book, but then minutes later, I was deep in. Mouth gaping, I sat there for 2 hours and devoured it.

This is a second generation immigrant tale that has a hearty mix of traditional Chinese texts with a pop culture spin. It is unapologetically crude and straightforward and quickly turns from dark to light to dark in just a few sentences. Brilliant just because of how rebellious it is. I feel like Marilyn Chin herself is enacting her revenge (on society? on social s
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Carly
Marilyn Chin is a formidable bad-ass. The first chapter of this book is flawless. I could read it over, and over and over, and never tire of it. It's like a shot of pure adrenaline. The rest of the novel is excellent, but the first chapter really sealed the deal for me. A heady blend of fairytale, folktale and modern life as a Chinese-American teenage girl. Chin ranges from experimental to straightforward narrative. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Mostly, it's brilliant, and darkly fun ...more
Christian Myers
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. The narrative was nonlinear and uncohesive. I feel like the author went out of her way to make her audience uncomfortable. However, she says early in the book that how you take this will depend on your "race, creed, hair color, social and economic class and political prolclivities" (16). I certainly had a different perspective on this book than an Asian-American would. Even as someone who was born male, I had a different perspective than a born female would. Overall I enjoyed i ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
This was kind of all over the place, the authors style was very unique to be sure and even sort of refreshing in a way because it was so different. But I worry most of this "differentness" was defined too much by its outright tawdriness to be enjoyable. It wasn't even sexy tawdry it was just sort of raunchyily indigestible and random. Some of it felt like a Chinese dream, it made me want to drink tea and eat moogoogaipan.
Et
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Poetic and fanciful and beautiful and hilarious. Follows the experience of daughters of a hardworking immigrant family, and interweaves it with Chinese folk tales, Buddhist teachings, and history. Raunchy and feminist and confused and strong, it reminds me of the confusion we all carry when marrying our family and personal histories to our assertion of our own beliefs and values in the world! Easy to read, fun, nonsequiter. Pick it up!
Leah Lucci
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is great. Its collection of lyrical, very short stories loosely follows twin girls whose family owns a Chinese restaurant. But it's full of magical realism, myth, fantasy, genre-bending, and other delights. I'm not quite sure what I thought it was going to be, but I'm glad it turned out to be itself.
Kara
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Chin takes a well-researched collection of Chinese and Buddhist fables and turns them into bawdy tales about two twin teens working in their grandmother's California restaurant. This is far from a typical "novel," as the title suggests. Chin maintains her poetic sensibilities throughout each chapter, which really read more like prose poems in the form of vignettes. A fun read.
Shannon
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
It reads more like a collection of short stories instead of a novel; there's a lot of jumping around in time and point of view. Most chapters are hilarious and insightful. I took advantage of the notes Chin added at the back of the book to add to my understanding of the others because several references escaped me. All in all, a fun read.
Ms. Online
Chin’s wacky novel follows the exploits of the Wong sister —spirited Chinese American twins who work hard at achieving the American dream as their cleaver-wielding grandmother proffers ancient wisdom.
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Marilyn Chin is an award-winning poet and the author of Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty and Dwarf Bamboo. Her writing has appeared in The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her books have become Asian American classics and are taught in classrooms internationally.
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“We never sleep. What will happen when all grandmas run out of fire? We can’t die. We die, nobody take care of you.” 2 likes
“Moon grew up, lost weight and became a famous singer, which proves that there is no justice in the universe, or that indeed, there is justice. Your interpretation of the denouement mostly depends on your race, creed, hair color, social and economic class and political proclivities -- whether or not you are a revisionist feminist and have a habit of cheering for the underdog. What is the moral of the story? Well, it's a tale of revenge, obviously written from the Chinese American girl's perspective. My intentions are to veer you away from teasing and humiliating little chubby Chinese girls like myself. And that one wanton act of humiliation you perpetrated on the fore or aft of that boat on my arrival may be one humiliating act too many.

For although we are friendly neighbors, you don't really know me. You don't know the depth of my humiliation. And you don't know what I can do. You don't know what is beneath my doing.”
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