Banana Boys

Banana Boys by Terry Woo.

I can't describe what made that book so extremely entertaining to read. Was it the fact that it was about twenty-something Canadian-Chinese (or Chinese-Canadian?), or was it b/c their drama was so ordinary-seeming that it felt so interestingly refreshing?

The experiences related in the novel seemed so normal that one could probably deduce that it was an autobiography with a multiple personality disorder (the novel was told from the five "Banana Boys'" perspective). By chance, I came by an award-winning essay on responsability written by the author of the book, where he mentionned his life in small town Ontario, and which was a starter for two of his main characters. But an autobiography is probably too simplified of a conclusion. The experiences of the Banana Boys at times seemed so similar to mine and of other banana kids around. Growing up not knowing whether you're Chinese or Canadian - whether you can identify as both, or neither (the latter probably being the closest to a real answer, says one of the characters).

I've not read the last chapter of the book yet (more an epilogue). It's a book I prescribe to all Canadian-Chinese (or Chinese-Canadians, w/ or w/o the hyphen, etc), b/c it's not everyday that you find a Canadian-Chinese writing about Canadian-Chinese, especially Canadian-Chinese who *love* drinking hole talk.

I just heard now that one of my friends/colleague had an operation for a peritonitis this weekend. Yikes!

But, I am generally making too much of a fuss about the whole Chinese Canadian thing. In fact, I have some interest at questionning the established order of multiculturalism, but I am not lost and disoriented with my personal identity, or have lived particularly traumatic experiences when growing up. I had the chance to go to good schools, surrounded with good people. I don't remember being singled out, picked on b/c of race (I discard the childish name calling as irrelevancies). I do remember that being short and physically weak was something. But eh, who had a perfect childhood anyways?

The thing is, we build our defenses as we go along. Discussions, or nagging that we have in the past, make sense with time. Loving our parents, family, friends. Dealing with romantic situations.

I wonder if the author character is the author himself. Tell an exotic story for the book you're going to write, and you're going to sell to the masses craving for exotic. And yet, many of the topics in that book are so "universal" that it's pop.

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2 Comments

Jen said:

great book! My husband is chinese from Toronto. I felt like I could relate (via my husband of course b/c I am french-canadian born in the US). His parents were just like my inlaws and I saw a lot of his relatives in the characters etc..
I was raving about it on a msg board once and the author sent me an email. For someone who likes to read this was like madonna calling me on my birthday. Really nice guy! his website is http://www.bananaboys.com/
--jen

smurfmatic said:

Oh cool! If you haven't checked already, the author is also in live action in the A Chink in the Armour short movie (shot in TO, etc)!

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This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on April 18, 2006 6:33 PM.

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