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Review Of Taien Ng's Short Story 'Shun-Wai'

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Chinese Canadian; An Array of Similar Differences
Like Yin and Yang, Taien Ng’s short story, “Shun-Wai”, is a short story of opposites; traditional versus contemporary, eastern versus western, ancestral worship versus religious worship. These contradictions fuel the main narrative and tensions that take place between three generations separated by culture: the Chinese “gwua-mui” narrating this story, her immigrant Christian mother, and her Poh Poh. The mother made everyone else feel uncomfortable by forcing her dogmatic beliefs onto the rest of the family. “Poh Poh hesitated, then put down the soup. My aunt, uncles and cousins looked bewildered. My mother held out her hand to me and told everyone to join hands. She closed her eyes” (Ng, 53). …show more content…
Much like the narrator, I was born Chinese and raised Canadian. I might order a pizza one night, then go out for dim sum the next morning and everyday I switch between Cantonese and English more times than I can count on two hands. My whole life parallels the oriental/occidental duality depicted by Taien Ng. One experience in particular comes to mind and encapsulates this particular east/west vibe and how cultural differences can separate society. This summer, three generations of my own Cantonese-speaking family (my grandmother, my father, and myself) visited extended family from across the U.S. of A. at a large reunion held in sweltering hot Lake Providence, Louisiana. This was an important trip for me because it would ultimately be my first time in America, and the first time I would ever even hear of any extended family living outside of China. My first-cousin-once-removed (more akin to an aunt) who planned the trip over the phone had a thick southern accent that I wrongly assumed could not be belong to anyone Chinese in origin. Lo and behold, we arrived at Jackson International Airport and spotted her immediately, the only Asian woman around. On the ride to her house, she described how she spoke very little Chinese, barely enough to

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