Showing both the drama of familial intimacy and the ups and downs of the everyday, My Old Faithful introduces readers to a close-knit Chinese family. These ten interconnected short stories, which take place in China and the United States over a thirty-year period, merge to paint a nuanced portrait of family life, full of pain, surprises, and subtle acts of courage. Richly textured narratives from the mother, the father, the son, and the daughters play out against the backdrop of China’s social and economic change. With quiet humor and sharp insight into the ordinary, Yang Huang writes of a father who spanks his son out of love, a brother who betrays his sister, and a woman who returns to China after many years to find her country changed in ways both expected and startling.
About the Author
Yang Huang grew up in China’s Jiangsu province and participated in the 1989 student uprisings. Her debut novel, Living Treasures, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal in fiction, and her essay and short stories have appeared in The Margins, Eleven Eleven, Asian Pacific American Journal, The Evansville Review, Futures, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Nuvein. She lives in the Bay Area and works for the University of California, Berkeley.
Table of Contents
The Selfish Youngsters
$$$-What the Son Did … Pining Yellow 3
$$$-What the Father Wanted … Chimney 19
$$$-What the Mother Did Not Know … The Birthday Girls 41
The Willful Teenagers
$$$-With Whom the Son Took Liberties … If You Were My Legend 57
$$$-What the Younger Daughter Once Aspired To … The Match 75
$$$-How the Older Daughter Looks … The Homely Girl 89
$$$-What the Father Is Worried About … The Umbrella 106
The Women in Love
$$$-What the Older Daughter Has Got … Dream Lover 125
$$$-What the Younger Daughter Falls For … The Gourmet 146
$$$-What the Mother Is Afraid Of … My Old Faithful 163
What People are Saying About This
Yang Huang's collection of linked stories peels back the layers of a culture too often rendered exotic and opaque to reveal what is intimate and familiar. Sexual awakenings, sibling rivalries, the pain and joy of raising children, aging, the constraints of love and loyalty are all dealt here with a gentle and incisive hand. My Old Faithful is a deeply moving portrait of a family and a society.
In My Old Faithful, Yang Huang explores with humor, tenderness and fierce precision the ties that bind and separate a family across time and space. Filled with unexpected turns and a painterly attention to detail, this is a wise and beautiful book.
Fans of Huang's powerful debut novel, Living Treasures, will welcome the author's return in My Old Faithful. With its rare views of family life in contemporary China, My Old Faithful's intersecting tales of the vibrant sometimes explosive Chen family demonstrate once again Huang's big-hearted gift for penetrating both our vices and virtues.
My Old Faithful establishes Yang Huang as one of our most provocative writers on contemporary China. Imagine Ferrante telling a family's story from prismatic perspectives and you come close to Huang's triumph. Here you find a debut writer adept at sidestepping the timeworn: she gives us a story so real it bursts the bounds of the form, becoming an autofiction which, in its humanity, quickly becomes yours as well.
Charming, funny, and deeply moving, Yang Huang's My Old Faithful chronicles a family over time, in all their struggles and joys.