Publisher Diane Reverand/Saint Martin, December 2004
A beautifully written memoir that describes Chao’s belated journey to her family’s home in Beijing in search of a connection to her heritage.
Throughout Evelina’s childhood, blue aerogramme would arrive from China, addressed to her. These letters were from her grandfather, Yeh Yeh, a formidable scholar, poet and English professor. They often ended with invitations to her to come visit him, and over the years, these invitations developed urgency, asking her to “come before it is too late.” Yet she never found the time away from her music to take the long trip to Beijing. And one day it was too late; her grandfather died at ninety, leaving behind three scrolls, one for each grandchild. Her aunt and uncle urge her to come to collect his final gift. When she finally makes the journey, she asks her mother to come along.
“Evelina Chao’s quest for her family’s past–and present–is a rare addition to the classic American story of immigration and its discontents. Chao manages to capture the paradox of attraction and repulsion, comedy and heartbreak in the dislocation of cultures. She illuminates the astonishing refusal of time to erase memory even as it destroys a whole world and makes family foreigners to each other. YEH YEH’S HOUSE is radiant, intensely moving, the fat of sentimentality utterly burned away.”
— Patricia Hampl, author of A Romantic Education and I Could Tell You Stories
“Filled with lush detail and crafted with the narrative vision of a novel, Evelina Chao’s memoir is a passionate and poignant tale of family, history, healing and reconciliation. Chao’s graceful voice vivifies this story of a daughter’s relationship with her mother and family, in both America and China. YEH YEH’S HOUSE eloquently speaks to the responsibility and need so many of us feel to discover one’s self in the context of both history and familial love. For all of us who have had to assimilate and balance dreams with expectations, this journey of self-reckoning will serve as a gratifying inspiration. ”
–Terrence Cheng, author of Sons of Heaven