From Publishers Weekly
The destructive forces of lust, greed and consuming pride influence the rise and fall of a Chinese family living in Hawaii in this carefully researched and atmospherically evocative narrative. Chun has based her first novel on her own family history, and she works assiduously to vivify the colorful clan, the Laus, and their towering patriarch, L. Ah Leong, known throughout China as "the Money Dragon." As a boy in China, her great-grandfather "revives himself" from the dead after he's thought to have drowned and vows to gain such huge "face" and fortune that no one will ever again disdain him. Although he acquires wealth and power as a merchant in Hawaii, he fails to take into account the essential conflicts in American/Hawaiian and Chinese cultures, or the infinite stubbornness of his equally formidable first wife, Dai-Kam (there are three others), whose jealousy poisons even her relationship with her own sons. Told largely through the eyes of Phoenix, the wife of First Son Tat-Tung, the story is epic but sad, and the Lau children and grandchildren gain peace only after the old man's death. Phoenix suffers for years, watching Tat-Tung, a scholar and fine, sensitive musician, slowly destroyed by his parents' bickering, as they obsessively find fault with him, each other and his father's other families. The narrative is slow in spots, and Chun does not always do justice to the richness of the material. The wrenching emotions of family dynamics come through, though, and for many in the Chinese-American community, the narrative will have particular resonance, especially since a fine selection of photographs depict the protagonists and their environment. Agent, Elizabeth Pomada. (Mar.)Forecast: A foreword by former U.S. Senator Hiram Fong, who knew the author's grandfather, should spark brisk sales in Hawaii.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
“Fast-paced and utterly addictive”
“carefully researched and atmospherically evocative…THE MONEY DRAGON is a fascinating and important first novel, a tale of a family struggling between love, greed, jealousy and loyalty.”
“The Money Dragon roars with intricate, juicy drama....A TV producer should buy the rights, NOW.”
“—a good and engrossing story…a window to Honolulu’s little-known past.”
"...the American version of Raise the Red Lantern, a family saga on the triumph and fall of L.Ah Leong, the Money Dragon, and his family caught between his deeply rooted Chinese values and those of the New World. Pam Chun explores the delicate human relationship in this fascinating and powerful story. It is a jewel in American Chinese literature."
--Peter Xinping Zhou, University of California, Berkeley, Director of the East Asian Library
"THE MONEY DRAGON is a meticulously rendered chronicle of the rise and fall of a legendary Chinese-Hawaiian family. A cautionary tale about one man’s boundless ambition and appetite-for wealth, sex, and power."
-Aimee Liu, author of Solitaire, Face, and Cloud Mountain
"Pam Chun's family reminds me of my own in its eccentricities, ambitions, back-stabbing, and romance. THE MONEY DRAGON is a wonderful and entertaining contribution to the world of Asian-American stories."
-Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain
“In this felicitous and imaginative re-telling of the story of her great grandfather and his family, Pam Chun offers a wonderful aloha --- a memory of Chinese American roots in Hawaii.”
--Ronald Takaki, author of Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans
"Carefully researched and lovingly crafted, THE MONEY DRAGON offers the reader a rare and fascinating opportunity to experience the transformation of Chinese and American cultures as the two are brought together in early twentieth century Hawai’i….So insightful and detailed are Pam Chun's portrayals of her family members that I found myself becoming part of that family and understanding the life and times from their eyes. THE MONEY DRAGON is a beautiful and inspiring novel that will serve as a landmark to Pam Chun’s authorship of many more that will hopefully follow."
--Tom McCullough, Senior Lecturer, Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley
"A great read of the clash of cultures, ambitions, and morals of a Chinese immigrant to Hawaii before Statehood."
--George E. Ong, Past President, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce
"A truly inspiring novel of old Hawaii at the turn of the century, where the indomitable immigrant spirit, coupled with Chinese ingenuity, adapted to the Hawaiian society that was taken over by American culture."
--Terese Tse Bartholomew, Curator of Himalayan and Chinese Decorative Arts, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
"THE MONEY DRAGON is a captivating depiction of the struggle of Chinese emigrants in a new and not always sympathetic land…This is the story of the misunderstood immigrant striving for that which he hopes will rectify him. Nevertheless, he finds his wealth does not always allow him the respect he longs for. THE MONEY DRAGON, however, provides a new and fascinating twist on this tale of frustration and struggle. It’s a story that is hard to put down."
---John Stucky, Librarian, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco