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Eat A Bowl Of Tea

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A compelling story of life in the Chinese-American community of New York City. The pages of this novel come alive with the maneuvers of the Tong leaders, the colorful visitors to the Money Come mah-jongg clubhouse, and the complex gossip of closely knit Chinatown.

Only a Chinese American could have written a novel of such vigor and authenticity. In 1989 it was made into a

Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Lyle Stuart (first published 1979)
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  201 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: avid readers, anyone interested in Chinese culture
Recommended to Cheri by: for school
This book is hilarious and very enjoyable - and not just because of old Chinese men telling each other your mom all the time. Exact words, though, are "wow your mother". Wacky!

It's a quick read - I read it in one night - and well worth it.

I never thought I'd be on the edge of my seat, turning page after page to find out if a character ever achieves an erection again. That's writing skill.

Note: It is out of print, but used copies can be found.
Jun 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Taking place in New York's Chinatown in the late 1940s, Eat a Bowl of Tea is the story of the marriage of Ben Loy and Mei Oi, arranged by their respective fathers, Wah Gay and Lee Gong, who are two of the many "bachelor husbands" of Chinatown, married men whose wives were left behind in China when they came to America to work. Initially, Ben Loy is reluctant to travel to China to marry, as he has been enjoying a dissolute social life patronizing prostitutes. Yet after meeting Mei Oi, he quickly ...more
CARP Reading Project
Not a great book, but one that improves the further you read. For much of the read, I had feelings of apprehension; sort of like, "I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with what's going on." Those feelings had more to do with how the story was told. The story itself is a snapshot of New York's Chinatown in the late 1940s. There were some touching moments towards the end, and it was nice to see the main relationship mature and develop, almost making the final problem to be solved mute. The fact that ...more
Cory Blystone
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
While the writing is simple in Louis Chu's Eat a Bowl of Tea, the humor surrounding marital infidelity and sexual inadequacy in Chinese-American culture is spectacular. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard reading a book that I had to set it down to catch my breath, but this book delivers those moments with abandon. Of course, knowing a little about Chinese culture, as well as Google searches for phrases and references for the unfamiliar ones, helps the reader understand the ...more
Meredith Links
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for my Asian Pacific American Literature class. I liked this book. A lot of the Chinese culture reference, I did not initially get, but once I was told in class, the irony was very prevalent. The story shows the dynamics between the older the generation and the younger generation and how they have either adapted their beliefs or maintained them. One of my favorite parts of the books was when the men would get together in the clubhouse and say their own version of a "your ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was incredibly odd. The way sex entered the novel was more like someone examining its importance and purpose rather than any type of allurement from it. I found Moi Oi to be really disgusting for such a 'beautiful woman'. I found Ben Loy incredibly amazing as a husband, for the most, despite how he used to sleep with prostitutes. I was happy for Ben Loy. I hated his wife. But, if Ben Loy's happy, I'm happy.
Royce Ratterman
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Read for personal and historical research. Not my cup of tea, but I found this work of some interest.
From New York to San Francisco, I found this book's contents funny in places. - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.
Overall, this work is also a good resource for the researcher and enthusiast.
Bree Pye
I have to say it:

For a book about sex, it's a bit of a snooze fest.

I know the sex isn't the point, and the book is extremely well-written. It's hard to read because it's hard to follow. Perhaps that is the point, but it certainly wasn't my cup of tea.
J.C. Pillard
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this particular book for class. It's not a book I would have sought out on my own, but it was an enjoyable read and provides interesting historical insight into Chinese immigrants to America during the twentieth century.
Kristin Lyon
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
The book kind of rattled on for me, a lot of unnecessary characters and drama, but maybe I missed the point. Anyway, I liked the end and I liked their journey.
K. R. Harrington
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting and engaging Chinatown drama. The movie is also worth seeing.
Oliver Hazan
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An excellent look into the lives of Chinese immigrants in the 1950s. Well written, diverting, and true-to-life.
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I guess it's your basic, first generation vs. second generation, moving to America, cultural mix story, but I think this is one of the best.
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-american
美爱心理的坦然与Ben Loy的消极默然逻辑动机是什么? ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Chinese-American....1940s NY Chinatown....newlyweds, adultery, Chinese mob.
Nov 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
The story of a marriage (and impotence and infidelity) in Chinatown. Very interesting look at that segment of society. Not sure when it was set, but post-WWII.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting book about Chinese-American men living in NYC. More on
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't know what to expect but I certainly wasn't expecting what I got!

Eat a Bowl of Tea was very much a ride.

It gave a peek into what life was like for the Chinese community. And boy was it different.
Told mostly from authoritative male perspectives, this novel focused less on the married couple and more on how their actions impacted the people around them, especially their parents.

There were some points when I was genuinely shocked, and other parts that were quite funny.

It bothered me a
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