Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life

Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life

by Daniel Asa Rose


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“One of the funniest, most touching and bizarre nonfiction books I’ve read.”
Boston Globe


Larry’s Kidney is Daniel Asa Rose’s wild-and-crazy memoir about his trip to Beijing, China, to help his black-sheep cousin Larry receive an illegal kidney transplant, collect a mail-order bride, and stop a hit-man from killing their uncle. An O. Henry Prize winner,  a two-time recipient of PEN Fiction Awards, and a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellow, Rose has written “a surprisingly fun, and moving, book with resonance” (Chicago Tribune).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061708718
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Pages: 305
Sales rank: 1,051,265
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Daniel Asa Rose has won an O. Henry Prize, two PEN Fiction Awards, and an NEA Fellowship. Formerly arts and culture editor of Forward and currently editor of the international literary magazine The Reading Room, he has written for The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, the New York Times Magazine, and is the author of the acclaimed memoir Hiding Places. He lives in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

1 The Phone Call 1

2 McMao 12

3 The Larry and Mary Show 22

4 Making Love Out of Nothing at All 40

5 Situation Splendid 56

6 “Chutzpah” Is a Jewish Word 67

7 Good Luck, We Trick You 83

8 Anaerobic Memories 101

9 The Kidnap Cabbie 114

10 Welcome to the Super 2 129

11 Return of the Kidnap Cabbie 144

12 Shabbos Duck 159

13 Dear Florida Power & Light 178

14 Long, Long Live! 197

15 Knock-Knock-Knock 208

16 Thousand-Year-Old Panda 223

17 Fate Make Us Together 234

18 The Last Kidney in China 249

19 Long Live Larry 265

20 The Art of War 283

Epilogue 299

Nice Clear Morals, as Larry Prescribed 302

Acknowledgments 303

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Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Daniel Asa Rose has a winner on his hands with LARRY'S KIDNEY'. He has the skill and the comic timing to pull off an unlikely caper story with lightness, hearty laughter, tenderness, and wisdom, creating a book that most likely will go directly to film. It is a fast summer read that is brimming over with some of the funniest conversations between the characters while keeping an eye focused on the very fast paced story that borders on a little miracle of writing. Strange, bizarre, out of the ordinary walk of life Larry is a victim of renal failure and needs a kidney transplant. Living in the USA he is one of many potential recipients for a kidney transplant, a fact that stimulates the idea of traveling to China in an illegal attempt to find a new kidney. He enlists the help of his sturdy but estranged cousin Dan to accompany him to China and once there Larry introduces Dan to his email order bride Mary (a far cry from the young and beautiful description transmitted by the potential bride via email!). Larry and Dan (and Mary) unite in Larry's medical venture and the result is a story of hilarious incidents, moments of intrigue, a cultural awakening, and an exploration of the meaning of kinship and friendship and love spread among not only the trio but across the country of China. Some critics may feel that focusing a comic novel on a subject as serious as Kidney Transplantation is inappropriate, but the manner in which Rose tells his story is light hearted and far from parody that the subject of finding a means to save the life of an unlikely candidate could have been. Though this is not a heavy novel (!), it goes beyond an entertaining comedic read and carries some important sociologic and psychologic implications. A very good read! Grady Harp
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Outrageous, outrageously funny, and touching - that's Larry's Kidney, a memoir by Daniel Asa Rose that relates in laugh provoking detail accompanying his cousin to China in search of a kidney and a mail-order bride. Yes, you did read that correctly. Zipping through the pages of this unique odyssey is a bit like watching a Keystone Kops movie with situations that are too comical to be true but they are. Hopefully, some day it will be a film so that I may enjoy it again. The big question is who would or could play Larry? Larry is Daniel's estranged cousin to whom he hasn't spoken in 15 years. Nonetheless, Larry manages to reach Daniel via cellphone on a chair lift in the Colorado Rockies asking for a favor - go with him to China to get a kidney transplant as China does more of these than any other nation and Larry's in danger of dying without one. Well, we've heard of brotherly love; this must be cousinly devotion as Daniel agrees to leave his family (a wife and two children) to help Larry. Thus, the two are off to Beijing, and the circuitous organ chase begins. In Daniel's words Larry's "...been close to making a million dollars more times than I can count, and always at the last minute he blows it, like he's programmed to self-destruct over and over again." One isn't sure whether or not he will self-destruct again because just as a kidney transplant seems at hand Larry decides he'll back out if the price is too high. You have to read Larry's Kidney to believe it, and then you still might wonder. Nevertheless, you've mined page after page of laughter, and been reminded of the strength of family while getting and up close look at China. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
authorsamoliver More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir of how Daniel goes to great links to help his cousin get a kidney transplant in China. It is an intriguing story of romance and family loyalty, as well as, Daniel's ability to see through Larry's personality to the childlike nature he knew as a child. Larry, Daniel, and Larry's mail order bride leave America to find a doctor who will give him a kidney transplant before he dies waiting for one in America. Larry's personality takes them on a journey they will never forget. It was the trip of a lifetime. When you read this book, you will find yourself laughing often. You will also find yourself admiring the lengths a family member will go to help another live. It is a heart warming story to help you find the courage to live and live fully until you die.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Daniel Asa Rose has chosen to write this book about his trip to China to secure a kidney transplant for his cousin in a humourous way. And, it is funny at times. However, the humour masks some very serious ethical issues around organ donation and transplant. As Americans with money, Daniel and cousin Larry are able to travel to China and move to the front of the line to secure a kidney from an executed prisoner. Many people do not choose to donate their organs and few countries have made organ donation automatic unless people specifically opt out. By writing the book in a humourous way, Mr. Rose is able to largely ignore the deeper moral implications of what he and Larry are doing. Those implications haunted me as I read the book and lessened my overall enjoyment of it.Similarly, while Mr. Rose professes a deep affection for China ant he many people who helped him and Larry, his use of dialogue and the way he described several Chinese people suggested an undercurrent of superiority.So, disturbing to read, but this book does provoke thought about our health care system and our values. All in all, I'm glad to have read it.
Cats57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
May I say that if you have any morals at all you will not buy this book¿and I thank God I got it for free and did not line Mr. Rose`s pocket with my hard earned book-buying money.The writing is poor, the supposed ¿humor¿ isn¿t funny, the over use of Larry¿s speech impediment was extremely annoying, the non-stop use of dialect writing was in very bad taste¿everything is just over done and I have to wonder how this book every got the green light.If I could find some brain Brillo being sold by Amazon I would have it sent to me over night so I could get the remnants of this book out of my head. This was the most painful book I have ever read (attempted to read). I¿m ashamed to say that I would rather donate my kidney to Larry than finish this highly disturbing look at kidney transplants and the high handed ethics of a certain type of Ugly American.While I did get this through Vine, my reasons for choosing this particular book are not the same as most people here who had read this because they had traveled to China. I have a friend on the 74,000 person waiting list for a kidney and has been on this list for many years; I had hoped to find some answers in this little book of horrors, some humor, maybe some empathy and a side trip for Larry to hook up. Sadly I was hood-winked.Imagine my horror while reading this unethical never ending, torturous book that I had recommended that they stock this in the dialysis department¿s library? I hope they will forgive me.
pegee101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. It was not a difficult read; chronological and uncomplicated. Having traveled to other countries, I know and understand what Daniel was going through trying to communicate what he wanted. However, it seemed his cousin Larry was not so appreciative of Daniel's help. Going to a foreign country for six weeks and trying to get a kidney seems quite a bit to ask of a not-so-close relative. However, reading it was an adventure. It's never easy to get things done in another country but Daniel does his best for Larry.
cjcombs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this story after the first chapter. As the title suggests, it relates the tale of the author and his cousin pursuing a kidney transplant in China, trying to bypass the long waiting times in the U.S. for organ transplants in order to save his cousin's life. At first blush, I did not find the cousin, Larry, to be a sympathetic character. However, as the story unfolded, my perception of Larry changed entirely, which made the account much more compelling. I'm happy I stuck with the story.Larry's Kidney is neither a travelogue nor a critical examination of the organ transplant system. It's more of a "buddy" story of two people who are unsure of their relationship at the beginning, and how that relationship evolves during the quest. Much of the book is devoted to clever wordplay and witty repartee; the other sections are devoted to sensitive descriptions of the characters and culture they find themselves in. The prose rambles at a few points, but for the most part the writing is clear and enjoyable.Perhaps most surprising and satisfying aspect of the book was the nuanced development of Larry. It is no hagiography, but Larry becomes a much more complex and understandable figure over the course of the story. I was glad to have the opportunity to read this book, and would certainly recommend it.
BKieras on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I received a copy through the Early Reviewers program. The personalities were interesting and well described - I felt like a knew them by the end of the book. The only thing that turned me off was it got a little sappy and preachy in the last chapter or two, but all in all it was very entertaining.
gkleinman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At it's heart Larry's Kidney is an entertaining adventure of two men redefining their relationship with each other and the world through a journey to find one of them a new kidney. It's a great concept with two interesting characters.The big problem though is the author constantly gets in the way of his story. From using slap shot dialect (which just doesn't work) to running sections from the real to the fantasy and back again (literary whiplash) the author constantly interferes with what could be a delightful book.One of the biggest problems with the book is just how self aware it is. Sections describing a seedy part of one Chinese city are cut off in a way that suggests that the author couldn't be quiet honest with his feelings or impressions of the section for fear of reprisals from his spouse. Another relationship is characterized as a 'father - daughter' like affection where it clearly seems otherwise.But what frustrates me the most is the final act of the book where the characters actually discuss how the story should be told when its adapted to a book.There's a ton of potential in Larry's Kidney, it just needed the author to let go of his tight control of the story and really get inside the core relationship of the two main characters. Drop the dialect gag, stop having fantasy and then saying "this is how it really happened" and focus on Dan and Larry.
Schayde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Larry's Kidney is certainly an interesting tale of adventure and deception. Larry enlists the help of his cousin Daniel to travel with him to China and illegally get a kidney transfer that he knows will come too late if he waits around in the U.S. for it. As the story moves you find out that the kidney isn't the only reason why Larry wants to go to China, that there is much more to Larry than what Daniel knows, and that Daniel and Larry are in alot of danger. This isn't the normal type of book I would have picked up at the local books store, however, I probably would have picked it up at a swap meet, yard sale, or Goodwill. It was certainly worth the price I paid for it, free (ty early reviewers program), and I would recommend it to anyone who wants something different that will keep their mind wondering what's going to happen next.
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a hilarious and occasionally poignant story of a romp through China with Dan and Larry, trying to arrange an illegal kidney transplant for Larry, who's dying of kidney disease. Some of their exploits are so outrageous that I had to keep reminding myself that this was indeed a true story. Larry decides to kill 2 birds with one stone, and uses the trip to also meet up with his potential mail-order bride, Mary. The lessons learned, the memories dredged up, and Larry's bounces between pragmatism and irrational behavior kept me smiling through the whole book.
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dan, the author, receives a call from his estranged cousin Larry while Dan and his family are in chairlifts somewhere above the mountains in Colorado. Larry needs a new kidney and can't wait for one in the USA, so he decides to go to china for it. He wants Dan to go with him. It is not only a long trip, but it is also illegal in china to supply Americans with an organ. They go anyway and for two months have an interesting adventure in this strange, but beautiful country.While I enjoyed the book, it almost read like a novel, I would have enjoyed it more had it been a little shorter. The days described started sounding similar after a while and the book started to drag a bit, though it all comes out fine in the end.
madamlibbytellsall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In turns funny, touching and bizarre ¿Larry¿s Kidney¿ is Daniel Asa Rose¿s memoir of his trip to China with his less than reputable cousin. Larry had been on the US waiting list for a kidney and his time was running out. So he decided to guilt his writer cousin (who visited China 25 years previous and is the only member of their extended family Larry doesn¿t have an active grudge against) into accompanying him. Not only is Daniel expected to help Larry obtain an organ in a country that had recently passed laws preventing Westerners from getting transplants, but while they are there he might as well help Larry impress his new mail order bride. Daniel makes a plea to the local Jewish expat community and gets a lead on the one doctor (Doctor X) who can still get organs. Daniel shares the news with his new acquaintance Jade and before he knows it he and Larry are in the industrial city of Shi (home to ¿exceptional hospitals and a plethora of massage parlors¿} and Larry is at the top of the list for the first available kidney. Larry and Daniels¿ relationship really made this book for me. Larry is the blackest of black sheep but Daniel¿s memories of the sweet kid he once was propel him to go the distance with him. He also gives the reader insight into a China the Chinese Tourism Board would probably rather outsiders never see. This memoir was great fun. Highly recommended!
ennie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Larry is fading fast and has no other options when he asks his estranged cousin Dan to accompany him to China on a legally dubious journey to procure a new kidney (and check out a potential bride he met on the Internet). For some reason, Dan agrees to leave his family to travel on this mission. China is a different world filled with smog, crowds, and people speaking broken English who may or may not be trustworthy. Through a series of chance (or are they?) acquaintances, Larry and Dan eventually arrive in an industrial city, find a surgeon, and then wait 2 months for an organ to become available (reportedly from an executed prisoner). Just reading about their time in China, I experienced culture shock and intense homesickness and desire for the familiar, and for that reason was happy to finish the book.
maggie1944 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I do not really know how to describe my responses to this book: sometimes intrigued; sometimes irritated; sometimes bored; and finally, I liked that I finished it. It was a bit of a struggle to finish it though. The author's writing style made it hard for me to decide whether I should take his description of his and his cousin's trip to China for a kidney transplant seriously, or should I believe it was a sarcastic spoof, or should I think it was a badly structured combination of stream of consciousness, travel diary, and apologia for being Western and having a huge sense of entitlement. As you can conclude, this was not a typical book in any sense of the word. The story, presumably true, is of the author and his cousin traveling to China to get a kidney transplant for the cousin. It is illegal for Chinese doctors and hospitals to provide kidney transplants to Westerners so much of the book had to do with the subterfuge needed to accomplish this operation. Equally important to the author was a long, and sometimes dreadfully dull, examination of his relationship with this cousin.To tell more might spoil the book for readers. So I shall stop. My final judgment is that I am glad I finished the book; really glad, not just relieved or satisfied, but happy I read the whole thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a funny, enlightening, sometimes sad story. The writing is exceptional; that the author is involved in the story makes it even more interesting. This is the first thing I have read from the author, I will most certainly read more!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago