Gold Mountains Book Club

Last month, we wrapped up our first online book club: Gold Mountains: Stories from Chinese Diasporas Past, Present and Future. Chinese diasporic literature encompasses a wide diversity of various waves of migration, experiences, hopes and dreams. Over the months of March and April, we not only shared our team’s favourite pieces of literature, but we also shared some relevant documentaries and articles in response to anti-Asian current events. We hope you enjoyed following along on this reading journey with us. Thank you for helping us create a safe space to read, share, learn, and uplift Chinese diasporic literature. 

Read on for a week-by-week summary and links to purchase our reading list! 



We kicked-off the first week of our book club in celebration of International Women’s Day with works from two talented female authors: SKY Lee and Maxine Hong Kingston. Their books, Disappearing Moon Cafe and The Woman Warrior, give us intimate glimpses into the roles that Chinese women play within their families and broader society. Additionally, both authors illustrate the struggles and disconnect faced by families separated between the home country and the new country, as well as how the characters navigate intergenerational tensions and family secrets. 

Disappearing Moon Cafe – SKY Lee 

SKY Lee crafts a compelling intergenerational family saga of four generations of Chinese Canadian women from 19th century British Columbia to late 20th century Vancouver Chinatown. The women are faced with the forging and subsequent unravelling of family secrets, all within the context of Chinese Canadian experiences of racism and discrimination. 

Massy Books (Vancouver local): 



The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts – Maxine Hong Kingston 

A memoir written in five parts, Kingston depicts her experiences growing up as a Chinese American immigrant interwoven with tales from her mother’s past and untold stories of the women in her family. Mixing in elements of Chinese folklore and myth, The Woman Warrior is a moving account of finding belonging and confronting the traditions and ghosts that haunt us. 

Massy Books: 





For week two, we took a deep dive into the depiction of Asians within Western media. We started with Charles Yu’s National Book Award Winner, Interior Chinatown, which is a witty and unique take on an Asian man’s struggles to break into the entertainment industry while paradoxically playing into the same stereotypes that chain people like him down. Coincidentally, around the same time that we were preparing to roll out Week 2’s theme, we were heartbroken to hear of the devastating spa shootings in Atlanta that targeted Asian female workers. This current event was a real-life manifestation of some of the historic and ongoing depictions and racial stereotyping of Asians in Western media—namely, the hypersexualization of Asian women and desexualization of Asian men. These consequences do not stay within the pages of books like Interior Chinatown; they show us how much representation and narratives matter and how much work is still left to be done. Alongside our book pick for Week 2, we also curated some documentaries and short-reads for further learning. 

Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu 

Life is a stage in Charles Yu’s award-winning Interior Chinatown. Willis Wu has always dreamt of becoming Kung Fu Guy—the most coveted role for an Asian man in American television. For now, he is Generic Asian Man, living in a run-down Chinatown SRO. As Willis starts working his way up in the world of the cop show, Black and White, he begins to discover family stories, the meaning of Chinatown, and the potential for life beyond the SRO.  

Massy Books: 




The Slanted Screen – Dir. Jeff Adachi (2006)

Explore the portrayals of Asian men in American cinema in The Slanted Screen. This documentary chronicles the experiences of actors struggling against ethnic stereotyping and limiting roles.

Slaying the Dragon – Dir. Deborah Gee (1988) & Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded – Dir. Elaine H Kim (2011)

This documentary and its sequel show how stereotypes of exoticism have affected the perception of Asian American women since the silent era. The sequel looks back in the 25 years since the original film to explore what’s changed. 

Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words – Dir. Yunah Wong (2011)

Anna May Wong spent most of her career typecast between a painted doll or a dragon lady. For years, older generations of Chinese-Americans frowned upon the types of roles she played; but today a younger generation of Asian Americans sees her as a pioneering artist, who succeeded in a hostile environment that hasn’t altogether changed. Yunah Hong’s engrossing documentary is an entertaining and imaginative survey of Wong’s career, exploring the impact Wong had on images of Asian American women in Hollywood, both then and now. 

Short reads: 

‘Who Killed Vincent Chin?’ And How Media Depictions Of Asians Have Changed (Or Not) – Marina Fang (HuffPost) 

The history of fetishizing Asian women in Orientalist tropes – Rachel Ramirez (Vox) 

Why Do Asian-Americans Remain Largely Unseen in Film and Television? Thessaly La Force (NY Times Style Magazine)

The Importance of Authentic Asian American Representation in Hollywood – Nicole Park (Center for Scholars and Storytellers)

The Unbearable Whiteness of Hollywood: Thoughts on Asian American Representation in Pop Culture – Pearl Shin (Third Coast Review) 



Our final week of Gold Mountains Book Club was centred around food (and food titles). Dim Sum Stories, while only food-related in name, provides a very local and personal look into the life of Larry Wong, a Vancouverite who grew up in Chinatown. We also visit Chop Suey Nation, by Ann Hui, another author who grew up locally, who uses food as a lens through which to investigate stories of Chinese Canadian migration and her own family’s migration story. To close out this series, we held a very special discussion with Ann Hui in celebration of World Book Day, where we chatted about food, authenticity, storytelling and more. 

Dim Sum Stories – Larry Wong

Written by Larry Wong, a local historian and past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, Dim Sum Stories is about his 1940s-1960s childhood in Vancouver’s Chinatown and filled with memories of life in a Chinese Canadian family whose father came to Vancouver in 1911. More than a personal memoir, Dim Sum Stories is also a social and cultural history of Vancouver’s Chinatown told up-close-and-personal by a master storyteller. 




Chop Suey Nation – Ann Hui

Globe and Mail journalist, Ann Hui, sets out on a cross-country road trip to investigate the mysterious existence of small-town Chinese restaurants in rural Canada. Along the way, she uncovers her own family’s story of how they migrated from Guangdong to Vancouver, the challenges they faced and the secrets of the Legion Cafe. 

Massy Books: 





We hope to see you again in the future for more book-related content! Until then, let us continue to uplift Asian diasporic literature and seek voices that are often left out. Also, please consider shopping at local and small businesses. We have provided links to shop our reading list at Massy Books which is a local, Indigenous owned and operated business that provides online shopping and delivery services. 


Written by Rose Wu and Tiffany Lee