In this stunning work of Chinese-American fiction, Pam Chun brings to life the story of Lau Ah Leong, the Money Dragon, the legendary founder of Honolulu’s Chinatown. The great-granddaughter of Ah Leong, Chun reaches deep into her family history to deliver an account that depicts the tumult and opportunity that occurs when the deep-rooted traditions of the Chinese people conflict with the new American culture.
Lau Ah Leong brings to THE MONEY DRAGON the spirit of the old world and of traditional Chinese culture. Rising up from his status as the son of a poor beggar, Ah Leong embarks on a lifelong quest for honor and power. His dream is to return to China in a burst of glory and to impress the people who once considered him insignificant. Through hard, relentless work, Ah Leong becomes an extremely wealthy businessman and, as a conspicuous display of his success, takes five wives and fathers a large family. But at what expense?
Told in part through the narration of Phoenix, the wife of Ah Leong’s first son Tat-Tung, the lines between greed, ambition, love and duty become blurred. While Phoenix is born and raised in China, she lives most of her life in Hawaii, as daughter-in-law to Ah Leong. She finds herself caught between two conflicting sets of values as family members take sides and the family is torn apart by greed.
THE MONEY DRAGON is the story of Pam Chun’s family, but it is also the story of many Asian Americans as it depicts the traditional values of Asian cultures that often become upended in the new world. Although THE MONEY DRAGON is fiction, it includes authentic historical documents such as Ah Leong’s Record of Naturalization and Immigration Forms, as well as photos of Ah Leong, his family, and his vast estates.
Upon its release, THE MONEY DRAGON was #1 on Hawaii’s Best Seller list. It was named one of 2002's Best books of Hawaii, and received a 2003 Ka Palapala Po`okela Award from the Hawaii Book Publisher's Assn. Pam Chun and THE MONEY DRAGON has been featured on National Public Radio and at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Conference on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.