About: A vivid, funny, and viscerally powerful memoir about childhood, assimilation, food, and growing up in the 1980s.
My thoughts: Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Nguyen earnestly explores and ties together some of my favorite topics: food (!), marketing, adolescence, family, and identity. I haven’t read much literature about the Vietnamese-American experience, but this memoir has definitely piqued my interest in the genre. Growing up I’ve always wondered whether my family’s traditions were our own or an all encompassing Vietnamese way. Comparing and contrasting my experiences with the author’s, I’ve concluded that all Vietnamese grandmothers cut up fresh fruit for their grandchildren after school, every kid wanted the Kool-Aid guy to burst through their kitchen wall, and balancing assimilation with cultural traditions will always be difficult. I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of background because figuring out the world and where we fit in it is a universal theme.