Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen” as Want to Read:
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  687 ratings  ·  100 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
Paperback, 226 pages
Published September 21st 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published July 20th 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  687 ratings  ·  100 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen
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
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, buddhism
"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: novels, merkins, distaff
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.
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!
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
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. ...more
Apr 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
unspeakably weird, whimsical, and at times impossible to categorize through content alone, given that the content of the mooncake vixen is as expansive as it is hard to follow. i’m still not entirely sure how i feel about this collection of shorts set within the same world, but it was definitely an experience.
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. ...more
Sarah Sammis
Got tired to the crude humor at the expense of plot.
Feb 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
Second half of the book–particularly the section that centers around Grandma Wong's restaurant in Oregon is extremely, extremely strong. Miles ahead of most present-day Asian American literature: self-aware, ambitious, satirical, provocative. My only critique would be that the first half of the book is noticeably weaker and sometimes a little too scattered/centered on shock value.

edit: JUST realized this book was published in 2009—I am DEEPLY impressed.
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
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
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. ...more
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.
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend reading this book like any short story collection: a few stories at a time and don’t try to read it straight through. Also, though the book description says it’s about two sisters and their grandmother, I approached each story fresh, like these were different characters who sometimes shared the same name. It saved me the headache of figuring out who was narrating each story.

Here are the standouts for me and their page in my Kindle copy:

Round Eyes (18) – heartwarming, sweet
Fox Girl (
Apr 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
My immediate reaction upon reading this: There is power in this book. Strength. Defiance. Chin takes everything that people have sneered at, poked fun at, or looked at with disdain, about the Chinese and brandishes them like weapons. Here are women undoubtedly, obstinately, almost aggressively Chinese - yellow skinned, round face, slanted eyes. Here is broken english, sharp tongues, even sharper wit.

The stories are rather absurd and surreal, and reminded me of Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingst
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.
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
fucking awesome. will be rereading for the rest of my life
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
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
Nicole Miles
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, favourites
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
Aug 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age, 2010, china
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
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
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
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. ...more
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!
LeeLee Lulu
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. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sirens Conference: Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen 2 14 Feb 23, 2017 07:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays
  • Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
  • Song of Solomon
  • Braised Pork
  • Concerning My Daughter
  • All That Glitters (Enchantée, #1)
  • A Skinful of Shadows
  • There but for the
  • Ghostwritten
  • Grace's Table
  • Milk Blood Heat
  • The Beholder (The Beholder, #1)
  • Lemon
  • Why Dogs Eat Poop & Other Useless or Gross Information About the Animal Kingdom
  • The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva: & Other Morsels of Misinformation from the History Books
  • Secret Daughter
  • A Curious History of Food and Drink
  • Menus that Made History: 100 iconic menus that capture the history of food
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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.

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
32 likes · 8 comments
“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.”
“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
More quotes…