Joyce Geary

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 186

Writing an autobiography at the age of 27 is a rather amazing thing to do. Jade Snow Wong's ["Fifth Chinese Daughter"], though, is not so much the story of her life as it is a story about San Francisco's Chinatown. Because she writes about herself in the third person …,...

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Writing an autobiography at the age of 27 is a rather amazing thing to do. Jade Snow Wong's ["Fifth Chinese Daughter"], though, is not so much the story of her life as it is a story about San Francisco's Chinatown. Because she writes about herself in the third person …, she achieves a nice impartiality about her very unusual environment.

Miss Wong was raised in strict Oriental tradition, with unquestioning obedience to her father and no individual rights to speak of at all….

The world outside Chinatown was a curious thing to Miss Wong. Her gradual acquaintance with the Occidentals and their customs and her reactions to them make wonderful reading. Rather than choose between two modes of living, she tried to find a middle ground.

Owing to the objectivity of the writing, one is inclined to judge Miss Wong's book more as a novel than an autobiography. She writes very well, and her writing exudes the delicate femininity only the Asiatic women possess.

Joyce Geary, "A Chinese Girl's World," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1950 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 29, 1950, p. 27.

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