Good Chinese Wife’s book tour called New York City home Wednesday night in the East Village’s 5C Cafe, around the corner from the Manhattan Bridge. Susan Blumberg-Kason read an excerpt, answered questions from some of the about twenty attendees, and signed copies.*
We would have done a fair amount of walking regardless of getting lost, as we took the M train downtown, leaving us about 15 minutes of exercise. The meibanfa 没办法 factor arose during our travels as well because the 197 NJ transit bus and traffic getting in and through the Lincoln Tunnel meant we didn’t get on the M until after 6:30. As per my usual self, I didn’t exactly exude zen, merely exacerbating the tension as ZJ did all he could to placate me.
ZJ and I disappointedly missed the reading, ducking in to hear the last remaining questions. Not only is my intuitive sense of direction nonexistent but I can’t manage to use Google Maps to my advantage in New York. I had to hand off the navigating to ZJ and by the time he was able to correct my erroneous ways, we still arrived thirty plus minutes late.
The questions I had a chance to eavesdrop on circumvented topics like whether Cai is still married, is Susan on good terms with Cai’s third wife, how well-versed Susan was on Chinese culture before arriving and why grad school in HK. The why question was too reminiscent of the inquisition I’ve received about four years in China and a Chinese husband (let’s save that one for a rainy day!). She answered the questions tactfully, in particular her response to her Chinese cultural knowledge base led me to contemplate how much did I really know when I stepped off the tarmac in Xi’an four years ago. I, in fact, was one of the novices she mentioned in her response, so thus, I not only anticipated a lot less, but merely had my own cultural background to compare it to, likely making interpreting situations easier or challenging, take your pick.
As a Goucher alumni sponsored event, co-hosted by two ’91 grads, there were around half a dozen Gophers there. The youngest alumni were a group from ’11, all of whom I recognized appearance-wise, and one of whom we had mutual acquaintances. I carried on a conversation with her, discovering we had The Q, Goucher’s student newspaper in common, and that she had roomed with one of the Q’s editors. She politely enquired about my connection to the event beyond Goucher, and I gave the short back story about living and working in Xi’an for the last four years, now married, introducing ZJ, sticking out with carrying his Nikon as well as being one of the few Chinese faces.
Beyond a paparazzi-barage of photos being taken, Susan signed copies of Good Chinese Wife. I purchased myself a paperback, although I have a pre-publication copy on the Kindle app. The highlight of the event, besides meeting Susan of course, had to be meeting “Janice” in person. Without giving too much away, “Janice” is a very good friend of Susan’s who doesn’t see eye to eye with Susan in regards to Cai. That’s the plus of reading memoirs as the characters really can in fact come to life before your eyes 🙂
After traipsing through several neighborhoods to get there, we ended the evening in a cab uptown (ZJ’s first US cab ride…and my second or third) with the ’91 grads before meandering through Times Square and getting on a bus headed back to NJ.
If you haven’t already done so, check out my review of Good Chinese Wife, Susan’s site or follow her on Facebook to find out more about the whereabouts of the Good Chinese Wife readings and book signings tour.
*I’m very glad to have met Susan in the flesh, and I voluntarily did this write-up as I genuinely liked the pre-publication copy I read and look forward to reading the paperback version.