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Brief Reviews-Fiction1
by Daniel Jones

THE PUBLICATION of Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians (Douglas & McIntyre, 184 pages, $24.95 cloth), edited by Bennett Lee and Jim Wong-Chu, is timely. Two recent novels by the Chinese-American writer Amy Tan have topped best-seller lists. In Canada, Sky Lee`s first novel, Disappearing Moon Cafe, was short-listed for last year`s Governor General`s Award; Evelyn Lau`s autobiographical work, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, was a notable success; and Fred Wah`s Waiting for Saskatchewan won the Governor General`s Award for Poetry in 1985. Many-Mouthed Birds includes selections by Lee, Lau, and Wah, as well as a wide range of work by lesser known ChineseCanadian writers. Bennett Lee notes in his introduction, "The sole criterion was wellcrafted and honest writing which could surprise, enlighten and entertain an ordinary reader." Garry Engkent`s "Why My Mother Carh Speak English;" Anne Jew`s "Everyone Talked Loudly in Chinatown;" and Paul Yee`s "Prairie Night 1939;` especially, deserve to be included in any collection of the best stories published in Canada this year. Denise Chong`s "The Concubine`s Children" traces the ways the 1923 Chinese Immigrant Act affected her own family and the larger community. A fine piece of historical writing, Chong`s memoir provides a context for much of the poetry and fiction in this collection. With a few exceptions, all of the writing presented here not only meets the editors` criterion, but can and should stand on its own merits.

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