Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Sour Heart

Jenny Zhang

Reading like auto-fiction, these coming of age stories are narrated by second-generation daughters of Chinese immigrants to the USA in the 1990s. The sweet and sour tales could easily have lapsed into misery memoir, but the harrowing intimate details of family life on the seamy side of New York are offset by the humorous candour of the child narrators. Just to flag - there is strong language and very explicit scenes of a sexual nature.

Extract

The year we spent in Williamsburg was my least itchy year, and also the best for all the ailments that I was afflicted with: my allergies to dust, cats, dogs, pollen, all types of nuts, perfume, anything that had a strong odour ...
At night, if I was itchy, my mom would scratch my left leg and my dad would scratch my right leg while I would sleep with double protection – I wore oven mitts on both my hands, and on top of that, my parents tied a plastic bag around my wrists with a rubber band so that I wouldn’t scratch myself bloody in my sleep .... Once I asked my mom to scratch my nipple until it split open and I lay there in bed cradling my own tit to sleep.

Parallels
  • The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
  • We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo

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