Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong
A stunning memoir of an intercultural marriage gone wrong
When Susan, a shy Midwesterner in love with Chinese culture, started graduate school in Hong Kong, she quickly fell for Cai, the Chinese man of her dreams. As they exchanged vows, Susan thought she'd stumbled into an exotic fairy tale, until she realized Cai―and his culture―where not what she thought.
In her riveting memoir, Susan recounts her struggle to be the perfect traditional "Chinese" wife to her increasingly controlling and abusive husband. With keen insight and heart-wrenching candor, she confronts the hopes and hazards of intercultural marriage, including dismissing her own values and needs to save her relationship and protect her newborn son, Jake. But when Cai threatens to take Jake back to China for good, Susan must find the courage to stand up for herself, her son, and her future.
Moving between rural China and the bustling cities of Hong Kong and San Francisco, Good Chinese Wife is an eye-opening look at marriage and family in contemporary China and America and an inspiring testament to the resilience of a mother's love―across any border.
Because of me, the professor taught in English, not Cantonese. After class, I flew down the crumbling cement stairs sculpted into the side of the mountain, stepping over giant snails that had come out after the rainstorm the previous night. Cai was waiting with a wide smile at our designated meeting place in front of the student center, halfway down the mountain. He looked stunning in a gray and white herringbone jacket, white dress shirt, gray dress pants, and a red tie. We grabbed a quick dim
just a temporary diversion in our married life. I never felt needy in Hong Kong, where I kept myself busy with friends and classes. But this wasn’t the case in China, where I felt lonely and isolated. So to while away those evenings in the dingy guesthouse room, I found refuge in a soap opera called Russian Girls in Harbin. The noticeably foreign women on the TV show lived in northern China and encountered cultural differences every day—at work, with friends, and in love. I fancied myself one of
“I’m so cold and my feet hurt.” “Why you always so cold?” “Because no one here has heat in their homes and I can never warm up. That’s why.” I’d never snapped like that at Cai, but now I felt relieved that I finally had. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so compelled to hide my feelings from now on. “What? What did you just say?” He straightened up before me, his height suddenly menacing. I guess I shouldn’t have blown my cool. “Never mind.” A small group of people gathered around us. Seeing an American
didn’t just ask Cai if he could come for a visit. He announced it.” My mom’s shoulders dropped. “Yoshimoto is in Hong Kong now?” “He arrived last night…for the whole week.” Budgie tilted his head once more. “The timing that man has. Is he here for vacation?” “Pretty much. Cai says he wants them to write a book together about Buddhist and Taoist music, so they’re working on that right now.” A look of concern washed over my mom’s face. “Will we see Cai at all?” “Oh, yes. But that means we’ll
become well-known in the Bay Area, and wherever he went in the mainland Chinese community, people would know his voice. He’d be offered other speaking engagements, like the emcee jobs he’d been doing, but for more pay. Without knowing more details, I thought it sounded like the perfect job. All my former resolutions started to fade away. After all we’d been through, I couldn’t give up on him now that he’d found a job he seemed interested in and qualified for. “I didn’t tell you about it because