Jean Kwok, photo by Chris Macke
Jean has been named the 2015 Hannah Judy Gretz Fellow at Ragdale
Bustle chooses Girl in Translation as one of 11 must-reads for Human Rights Day
Bijna thuis, the Dutch translation of Girl in Translation, is the #2 bestseller in all of the Netherlands
The British School in The Netherlands is reading Girl in Translation as a part of their curriculum
Mambo in Chinatown selected for Penguin Stacks
Cedar Crest College chooses Girl in Translation for their honors freshman common read
Girl in Translation selected as Lincoln Academy's Books & Brunch summer read
Girl in Translation has just been added to the curriculum of the Lycée Français des Pays-Bas Vincent van Gogh
Real Simple selects Mambo in Chinatown for Best Books of 2014
Mambo in Chinatown is the Penguin USA Twitter Book Club Pick for July
Jean writes for TIME Magazine
iBooks puts Mambo in Chinatown in Top 10 Fiction List
Dutch translation of Mambo in Chinatown (Dans met mij) to be released on 2 July
Mambo in Chinatown selected byWoman’s Day’s for Best Books of 2014
Mambo in Chinatown chosen for Artis-Naples Critic’s Choice Booklist alongside books by Donna Tartt, Joyce Carol Oates and Chang-Rae Lee
One of Real Simple’s Hottest Page-Turners This Summer: Mambo in Chinatown
Girl in Translation featured in Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month alongside books by Pearl S. Buck, Ha Jin, Jamie Ford and Jhuma Lahiri
Woman’s Day is sponsoring a Mambo in Chinatown giveway, including Latin dance shoes
Girl in Translation approved for the curriculum at the International School of Amsterdam
Danish rights to Mambo in Chinatown sold
Foreign rights to Norway, Finland and Sweden sold for Mambo in Chinatown
Dutch rights to Mambo in Chinatown sold
Girl in Translation chosen for the 2014 list of Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA, a division of the American Library Association
Mambo in Chinatown selected for Publishers Lunch's BUZZ BOOKS 2014
Jean will be doing a national book tour in June/July 2014
Foreign rights for Germany to Mambo in Chinatown sold
Large-print rights sold
Israeli rights to Mambo in Chinatown just sold
Girl in Translation is a core text at
the American School of the Hague
The New Community College at CUNY is using Girl in Translation for first year curriculum
Chosen by Portland Community College as their All-School Read
Will be read in Dutch high schools as a part of the English Noordhoff Blackbirds series, alongside titles by Steinbeck and Roald Dahl.
Chosen as one of three books in "Lit Kit Bags"distributed to more than 450 schools and public libraries in 58 cities and towns by Northwest Indiana Literacy Coalition and Books to Bridge the Region
Chinese rights have just been sold
Documentary on Jean's life and book just filmed for national Dutch television
Jean's short story "Where the Gods Fly" shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the world's largest short fiction prize
Jean awarded "Distinguished Graduate Award 2012" for Hunter College High School
Delaware County Community College has selected GIRL IN TRANSLATION for their college-wide common read 2012
GIRL IN TRANSLATION has been adopted across an entire county in Georgia for inclusion in their year-long curriculum
Wright State University has chosen GIRL IN TRANSLATION for their 2012 Common Read Program
Foreign rights to Indonesia just sold
GIRL IN TRANSLATION is being recorded for the Library of Congress, specifically the NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
Join the online international Global Read for GIRL IN TRANSLATION on Thursday, 1 December 2011 from 4pm to 5pm EST, sponsored by Primary Source, the Pearson Foundation and We Give Books! Free registration here.
Extensive author notes now available on Subtext, the new free ipad app! Deleted scenes, author commentary, and more.
Selected for the TAYSHAS High School Reading List (2012)
Winner of the Salt Lake County Library Reader’s Choice Award
Chosen as the County-City Library's Pick
GIRL IN TRANSLATION has become a New York Times bestseller again, now in trade paperback
GIRL IN TRANSLATION is the November Costco Book Pick
Chosen as the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year, Adult and High School Title 2011-2012
Selected as a Florida Teens Read
Selected by the Chinese American Library Association as a 2010 Best Book
GIRL IN TRANSLATION in trade paperback has already hit the ABA Indiebound, NCIBA and SCIBA bestseller lists
Featured in ipad 2 and iphone national commercials
Selected as an Orange New Writers title for best debut fictionPromotions by Orange and Waterstone's to be in stores in June.
Chosen as a John Gardner Fiction Book Award finalist
Paperback release date: May 3, 2011
Winner of an American Library Association Alex Award
Selected as one of China Daily’s Top 10 Books of 2010.
Chosen by the School Library Journalas one of their Best Adult Books 4 Teens
Nominated in TWO categories for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2010: Fiction and Debut Author
Foreign rights sold to Turkey and Croatia, for a total of 14 foreign countries
GIRL IN TRANSLATION has been nominated for QPB’s 2010 New Voices award
Selected as one of Woman & Home’s Top 30 Books of 2010.
GIRL IN TRANSLATION chosen by readers at About.com as one of the Best of 2010
Featured in The Guardian’s Choice of First Novels.
Selected by the blogger community as Best Cultural Book in Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010
Picked by Flavorwire as one of ten women authors they love.
GIRL IN TRANSLATION hit the New York Times Best Seller List
GIRL IN TRANSLATION is a “Discover Great New Writers” pick for Barnes and Noble
Selected as an Indie Next List pick for May 2010! The Indie Next List is compiled from hundreds of nominations from indie booksellers nationwide. It's a predictor of the twenty hottest titles to come.
A Blue Ribbon featured pick for all of the following book clubs: Book of the Month, Doubleday, Literary Guild, Large Print, the Lifestyle Clubs, Rhapsody, and Book of the Month Club 2.
Thus far, foreign rights sold to:
MAMBO IN CHINATOWN
"Best Books of 2014: Mambo in Chinatown. Western convention clashes with traditional Eastern culture when a young, impoverished Chinese-American woman dips her toe into the glittering world of professional ballroom dancing—and finds love."
— Woman’s Day
"Rarely has [this story] been told with such grace, lightness and humor as in this delightful novel by the author of the best-selling Girl in Translation (2010)."
— Chicago Tribune
"Best Books of 2014: One of This Summer’s Hottest Page-Turners. A riveting story about a young woman who ultimately finds her calling and manages to exceed everyone's expectations - including, most important, her own."
— Real Simple
"New and Noteworthy Books: Mambo in Chinatown. [One of]... the hottest titles. A young woman who finds herself through ballroom dancing must make peace with her old life in New York's Chinatown. Charming."
— USA Today
"In her winning second novel (after Girl in Translation, 2010), Kwok infuses her heartwarming story with both the sensuality of dance and the optimism of a young woman coming into her own.”
"Summer Books Preview 2014, titles to keep you reading: Mambo in Chinatown. A young Chinese-American woman is torn between her family duties and tradition in New York's Chinatown and the contemporary life she discovers through ballroom dancing."
— Los Angeles Times
“Dreams Take Flight in Jean Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown…a great story of cultural conflict and reaching for your dreams.”
— Boston Herald
"Best Books of June, Top 10 Fiction List. Heady and entertaining: Mambo in Chinatown."
“Mambo in Chinatown has a propulsive narrative drive and tells an often compelling tale of East-West conflict, adaptation, and assimilation...[readers] will keep turning the pages.”
— Boston Globe
“Kwok is at her best when exploring and smudging such differences involving culture or class — which in turn suggests that any of us really could become whomever we want to be.”
— Journal Sentinel
“Editors’ Picks: Excited for Jean Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown. The story is akin to that in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, one of my favorite novels from 2013, in that the main character is torn between two cultures and is unsure of her place in either.”
— Library Journal
"A poignant tale of self-discovery from the bestselling author of Girl in Translation."
— Advance (June cover title)
"The kind of book where I put it down, closed my eyes, and the characters were still dancing in my mind. Sweet and lovely, filled with old-world tradition, Chinese superstition, and the complicated dance of forbidden love."
Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost
“Although the characters are fictional, their personal struggles and emotions are based upon authentic experiences, which make them unforgettable.”
— Sing Tao (largest and oldest Chinese newspaper in the US)
"Kwok has created a charming heroine into whose dance shoes readers can easily step. Charlie faces many of the same dilemmas that plague modern young women: balancing the demands of family and career without sacrificing too much of either, choosing whether or not to pursue love when it may mean giving up a fulfilling work life. Kwok has a gift for conveying the passion and sensuality of ballroom dancing in her energetic prose."
— Shelf Awareness
“Mambo in Chinatown is Jean Kwok's sophomore novel, and it's excellent… offers a glimpse into the labor class life of Chinatown. More, readers who love stories about dance and pursuing one's dream will find so much to appreciate in Charlie's story. It's a well-paced, consuming read with well-written, dynamic characters who never once feel anything less than real.”
— Stacked Books, librarian book blog
“Best Books Read in June: Kwok does an exceptional job of rendering this lesser-visited part of America in a way that’s reverent toward both sides of the story…The sister relationship between Charlie and Lisa, who is much younger than her, was my favorite part of the story though — the love they have for one another and the pain and grief they endure together is vivid.”
— Book Riot
“… like a ballroom dance itself: captivating and sure-footed, and hard to look up from. Kwok draws from her own experience working in Chinatown in her youth, eventually becoming a ballroom dancer and taking to the floor with confidence. Kwok brings to the page all the detail and fluidity that one would expect of a seasoned dancer and writer.”
“Kwok vividly portrays the rich traditions still prevalent in working-class Chinatown and the conflicts common to many other immigrant families, while creating a delightful coming-of-age tale full of romance and mystery.”
— Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
"An engrossing cross-cultural coming-of-age tale."
— Largehearted Boy
“Kwok’s writing style is simple and direct but magnificent... wonderfully described with all the heat and sensuality of D.H. Lawrence."
— Pop Mythology
“I dare you not to love this book. Kwok’s writing, as in Girl in Translation, is infused with culture, color, and a brightness that is specific to her voice. Her characters are lively and full of personality; they are people we would like to meet, and who would bring richness to our lives. I was impressed by how fresh and charming Mambo in Chinatown was in every way.”
— Feffer Books
“The story moves seamlessly, and while I found myself eagerly turning the pages, I also found myself savoring it for its heartwarming thematic qualities and rich combination of description, dialogue and action. It is a novel sure to enjoy as much attention as Kwok’s first, and one that will linger with the reader long after the book is closed.”
— Prism Magazine
“It’s hard to improve on the Cinderella theme, but Jean Kwok manages to do just that.”
— Book Reporter
“…flows like the best fiction but offers so much more with its insights into the pressures felt by first generation immigrants as they try and navigate their way through a new world while still firmly anchored in the old world by their parents….a marvelous achievement. A novel to be read and treasured by readers of all backgrounds.”
— The Gilmore Guide to Books
“Jean Kwok's entertaining second novel.”
“5 out of 5 stars! Kwok’s writing is direct and clear, leading the reader as smoothly as a practiced dance instructor. This book is a joy to read, and I flew through it.”
— Fashionista Piranha
“For anyone who’s ever fought to stay true to family and culture while trying to find a unique identity, you’ll be encouraged to see how Charlie finds her own voice as well as her own love.”
— Mochi Magazine
“I found myself cheering for Charlie as she grew more confident. I also liked the cameo appearance of Kimberly [from Girl in Translation] and getting to find out how her story ends.”
— Reading Extensively
“Jean Kwok is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I appreciate that Mambo in Chinatown keeps one foot in the dreamy world of ‘will the girl get the guy and win while doing so’ and the other foot in the realistic world of what life is like for the children of immigrants.”
— Read for Pleasure
“Kwok has managed to do it again …kept me up late last night as I read on and off all day long, unable to put the book down until I knew what happened to Charlie and Lisa Wong. I loved Mambo in Chinatown and I can hardly wait to see what else Kwok writes.”
— Books are My Thing
“Charlie’s passion for life and dance transform her brilliantly.”
— 20Something Reads
"Five out of five stars for Mambo in Chinatown! Clashing cultures, Eastern practices and family all are brought together in an enjoyable journey with Charlie and her transformation."
— Liberty Bay Books
"Equally triumphant and poignant telling of Charlie’s life as she juggles the opportunities and obstacles she encounters while seeking to fulfill family expectations and follow her own dreams. A treat to read... a touch of well-written romance; some tragic, heartbreaking moments; and endearing characters that develop as the book progresses."
— Book Scribbles
"Just as in Girl in Translation, the books gives a good view of how things work in the closed community of Chinatown and its traditions, and how Charlie is living between two cultures. I also loved the romance part and the ballroom dancing that danced as a red line through the story. Mambo in Chinatown is a book I recommend as a new must read!"
— Marjolein Reads
"From Kwok (Girl in Translation, 2010), another story about a plucky young Chinese-American woman whose hard work transports her out of poverty and hidebound traditions to find love and success... Charlie's Cinderella story, not to mention Charlie herself, is charming.”
“Charlie Wong can’t catch a break: instead of taking after her late, beautiful dancer mother, she’s awkward and clumsy, and unlike her gifted younger sister, Lisa, she’s a terrible student.… Kwok’s depiction of Chinatown as a city within the larger city is intriguing.”
— Publishers Weekly
"Highlighted Summer Books 2014: Mambo in Chinatown."
— Orlando Sentinel
"A beautifully done Cinderella story - with all the humor and sympathy that a modern day immigrant NY story can have. The author takes us to parts of Chinatown that I'd passed and never known much about - Eastern medicine, the tai chi in the small park, people working the push carts and the tough jobs - and makes them come alive through her sympathetic eyes. Mambo in Chinatown is a story of hope, perseverance, tough odds, and the importance of friendship and family. It's heartwarming and lovely!"
— Starting Fresh
"Five out of five stars! I am happy to say that Kwok has still got it. A really great adult fiction book that I could see has crossover appeal. It’s a very quick read that touches on some important themes, with intricately detailed relationships, a main character that you can’t help but connect with and care about. It’s a universal read about the love of family and struggling to find your identity."
– Good Books and Good Wine
"Five out of five stars! There is something in Jean Kwok's writing that sinks under your skin and takes shape as it blooms into something unexplainably beautiful. Her main character of Charlie is a clumsy dishwasher with callouses, yet she becomes an irresistible young woman when allowed to break out of her family's close inner shell. As the nobody-dishwasher turns into someone that turns heads, the fabulous writing pulls us into this coming-of-age story and doesn't let go. You won't want to put this book down."
– Burton Book Review
"Jean Kwok is able to blend in the themes of love, family, culture, and stress into a fast-paced read that was relatable to Asian-Americans on multiple levels. It is sure to make the audience laugh and remember notable moments."
– Georgia Asian Times
"The award-winning author of Girl in Translation has done it again with Mambo in Chinatown!"
– Maurice on Books
"What to read this summer: Donna Tartt, Amy Tan, and Mambo in Chinatown."
– The Winchester Star
"A delightful mix of The Ugly Duckling and Cinderella, this story is in many ways a modern fairy tale. The best part is that our heroine is not just a passive good girl waiting for a prince to come and save her."
– All About Romance
"Pack your bag with these summer 2014 releases! Highly anticipated and highly reviewed: Mambo in Chinatown."
– Quirk Books
"The new Jean Kwok- FABULOUS!"
– Great Thoughts
"With excellent characterizations and storytelling, Mambo in Chinatown pulls you into the world of a young woman inspired by her mother to make a better life for herself in America."
– Book Dilettante
"Do you have a desire that is so secret it is almost unknown even to you? In Jean Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown, we have the treat of unraveling the life of Charlie Wong."
– Jewish Journal
"A warm, captivating and extremely readable story with a deeper level of wisdom."
– Shyama in Boekenland
"The gorgeous story of one young woman’s search for meaning in a world crowded with others’ hopes and dreams. Readers of cultural stories will absolutely love this tender novel."
– S. Krishna's Books
“This book seamlessly weaves so many worlds, from the dark, heady streets of Chinatown to the effortless grace and glamour of ballroom dancing. The presentation is perfect, with intricacies of the culture explained, and I learnt so much without realising I was being taught.”
– The Bookbag
“East meets West in a warmhearted novel about dancing, family loyalty and the trials of the Chinese-American immigrant experience.”
– Star Tribune
Girl in Translation
“Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation speaks eloquently. Searing debut novel... poignant.”
— USA Today
"Kwok drops you right inside Kimberly's head, adding Chinese idioms to crisp dialogue. And the book's lesson--that every choice comes at the expense of something else--hits home in every language."
— People Magazine, 3.5 out of 4 stars
— Entertainment Weekly (review)
“Dazzling fiction debut.”
— Marie Claire
"Part fairy tale, part autobiography... buoyant."
— O, The Oprah Magazine
“People Are Talking About: Girl in Translation, the astonishing—and semi-autobiographical—tale of a girl from Hong Kong who, at eleven, shoulders the weight of her mother’s American Dream, from Chinatown sweatshop all the way to the Ivy League.”
"Kimberly Chang, the girl in the title of Jean Kwok’s first novel, comes to New York from Hong Kong in the early 1980s with her mother, chasing a better life. Ms. Kwok, herself an immigrant, renders Kimberly’s confusion seemingly from the inside." — New York Times
“Books We Can't Wait To Read This Summer: Girl in Translation. Fresh and new.”
— Entertainment Weekly
"Inspired by her own first hand experience of immigration, Kwok writes with quiet passion about the strange dichotomy of growing up surrounded by the glitz of New York, while being barely able to afford to eat.... irresistible power."
— The Independent
"Five Books to Watch for: Girl in Translation"
“Warm and affecting… a compelling pleasure… manages that rare fictional feat of shifting forever the angle from which you look at the world.”
— The Daily Mail
"Kwok thoughtfully pens a tale of the desperation and cruelty often faced by newcomers"
"A sensitively handled rites-of-passage account . . . has the unmistakable ring of authenticity"
“Superbly written and observed.”
— Woman and Home
“In this evocative debut, Kwok’s quiet narrative voice steals up on you and captures your heart.”
— Irish Examiner
“Amazing… an incredibly honest and powerful story, written with unflinching directness.”
— Easy Living
— She Magazine
“Infused with optimism and a can-do spirit.”
— Financial Times
“Compelling… an unforgettable story”
— Global Times
"Potent… a fresh, compelling take on the American success story.”
— Seattle Times
"There is a brand new author out there that we should all be paying attention to. Her name is Jean Kwok. Kwok is a new novelist full of potential for greatness."
— The Naples Daily News
“Simple, searing, richly detailed prose… hilarious and wrenching. Immigrants, new and old, will find much to savor here, from the drama of family secrets to the confusing coming-of-age.”
“A resolute yet naïve Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut… more than just another immigrant story.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds. Reminiscent of An Na's award-winning work for younger readers, A Step from Heaven, this work will appeal to both adults and teens.”
— Library Journal
"Clear, serene debut novel."
— NRC Handelsblad
"A stunningly clear and heartwarming story."
— NRC Next
"A gorgeous book!"
"A compelling novel about disappointment, hidden love and poverty."
***** (five stars)
— De Telegraaf
"A classic and moving immigration story."
"A gorgeous, beautifully written, moving story that immediately touches you."
"Impressive, heartbreaking debut novel."
— Het Belang van Limburg
"With her clear writing style, Kwok brings a world to life that amazes the reader."
— Reformatorisch Dagblad
“In this moving story of hardship and triumph, a woman must live a double life as a scholar and a sweatshop worker after she emigrates from Hong Kong to America with her mother.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Mesmerizing… blessed with a vivid central character and tremendous narrative drive.”
— Columbia Magazine
“A moving story filled with lively and believable characters. It is an extremely well told story with wonderful syntax, vivid descriptions, and subtlety placed humor.”
"Jean Kwok captures the reader's mind. The themes are universal, as proven by the novel's success around the world. While reading this book, time stands still and the world expands - just as it should when reading good literature."
"Kimberly is such an unforgettable narrator that you can’t put the book down. “Girl In Translation” contrasts sacrifice and accomplishment and shows us a world that is both beautiful and tragic."
— Education Extra: Book Picks, The Register-Guard
“It is impossible not to fall under the spell of Girl in Translation’s tough, plucky narrator as she struggles to make a place for herself in America. Kwok is a natural storyteller who eloquently captures the difficulty of living in two worlds, and the quiet sadness of never feeling quite at home in either. This is an altogether captivating debut shot through with moments of humor and grace.”
—Julie Otsuka, author of When the Emperor Was Divine
“Girl in Translation took me completely by surprise: I started it at midnight, thinking I would read a few pages, and found myself, hours later, completely absorbed in the story. With Kimberly Chang, Jean Kwok has succeeded in creating an unforgettable narrator—she's smart, fearless, funny, and a great observer of the world around her. This is an incredibly impressive debut."
—Vendela Vida, co-editor of The Believer and author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
“A moving coming of age story, reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The possibility of Kimberly Chang’s extraordinary struggle and achievement is what makes America a great nation—generous, forgiving and full of hope. Kwok perfectly captures the voice and perspective of a young immigrant, and the result is a powerful work about love, sacrifice and faith.”
—Min Jin Lee, author of the bestselling Free Food for Millionaires
“Utterly compelling, grabs you from the first page to the last. It’s about people uprooted, taken advantage of, and triumphing in a foreign land. It’s a story about the American dream which serves to remind us not to take lightly what we have. The story of Kimberly Chang is not one you will soon forget. This is a book you will press into a friend’s hand and urge them to read. I urge you to read it!”
—Patricia Wood, author of Lottery
"In Kimberly Chang, Jean Kwok has created a gentle and unassuming character. But Kimberly is also very clever, and as she struggles to escape the brutal trap of poverty she proves indomitable. With her keen intelligence and her reservoir of compassion, she’s irresistibly admirable, as is the whole of this gripping, luminous novel."
—Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me
“A journey into a world that would otherwise be veiled, Girl in Translation contrasts both sacrifice and accomplishment in the most satisfying of ways. Kwok’s vibrant prose makes us live Kimberly’s life almost as if it were our own.”
—Brunonia Barry, author of the bestselling The Lace Reader
“I love how this book allowed me to see my own country, with all its cruelty and kindness, from a perspective so different from my own. I love how it invited me into the heart and mind of Kimberly Chang, whose hard choices will resonate with anyone who has sacrificed for a dream. Powerful storytelling kept me turning the pages quickly, but Kimberly’s voice – so smart and clear - will stay with me for a long time.”
—Laura Moriarty, author of The Center of Everything
"Kwok writes with a stripped down elegance that puts you right next to her in the freezing apartment, but still gives you a sense of the inherent dignity of both the protagonist and her mother - and that dignity, combined with grim reality, is what really made the book leap out of my hands. It's been a long time since I read anything with a character I wanted to succeed this badly. Which brings us to the ending: pretty much the definition of an earned happy ending, with just the amount of bittersweet regret to make the whole thing go down smooth."
—Drew Williams, Little Professor Bookstore
"This is a tale simply told, but the narrator speaks with unvarnished authenticity of the experience of immigration. Kimberly and her mother, an accomplished musician, come from Hong Kong to Brooklyn with the aid of her mother's sister. Here, in this land of bounty and opportunity, they are ruthlessly exploited from day one: paying rent for an apartment with no heat and missing windows, working in a sweatshop, struggling with the language barrier. Young Kim observes without passing judgment, and through her eyes we witness not only the sting of injustice, but the simple joy she takes in all that is new and different. A quietly powerful book. "
—Jennie Turner-Collins, Joseph Beth Booksellers
"I absolutely LOVED Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I was so impressed by the voice of young Kimberly, who narrates their story in crystal clear prose and a tenderness and naivety that's almost charming. I also loved the fact that this will make a perfect young adult crossover, I can't imagine any teen being able to put down this wonderful, precious story. I even experienced that same sort of epiphany while reading it that I did with The Help: THIS IS IT! This is the next great book!"
—Linda Grana, Lafayette Books
"Get comfortable before you open this book because you might not want to get up until you finish it. Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate to New York City and end up living in squalor in an unheated abandoned building while the mother works in a sweatshop. Eleven year old Kimberly realizes her brains are the only chance she and her mother have of getting out of the situation they find themselves and begins to make decisions that affect the rest of their lives."
—Beth Carpenter, Country Bookshop in Southern Pines
"...The vivid narrative had me RIGHT THERE in the sweatshops, the high school, the sordid apartment...in short, very immersed in the story. Ms Kwok's writing delivers that je ne sais quoi that is invaluable to a good novel. Kwok manages to convey feelings, for instance, about relationships with contemporaries, in such a way that you can identify because you've been there yourself during the teen years! The uncertainty with which Kim approaches the love relationship also resonates. And, the ending isn't saccharine, which I always appreciate."
—Lorayne Burns, Librarian
"This is a lovely debut novel that will move, surprise and delight the reader. In Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok has given us a previously untold immigrant story – about a brilliant young girl who excels at school, works nights in a New York City sweatshop, and lives with her mother in an abandoned apartment with no heat. That elements of the story are based on Kwok’s own life in 1970s America makes Kwok’s accomplished first novel all the more remarkable."
—Chris Higashi, Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA
"The American experience often began at Ellis Island or Angel Island and was later forged by deprivation and hardship. As Kimberly Chang and her mother attempt to navigate an alien society, culture and language they will remind people of the stories of their parents and grandparents. To read this novel is to read a universal description of American immigration and development."
—Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
"With this book's publication, there is no doubt that Kwok will be noticed as a major American writer."
— Ghost Word
"Divine prose. Kwok's style keeps you reading and unwilling to set her book down for even a moment. It is the type of book you gobble up in one sitting leaving you hungry for her next book."
”I read this novel in a quick page flipping all-nighter... Jean Kwok delivers a powerfully told story that holds nothing back and gives everything expected, and more. Promise of much success from this new author.”
— The Burton Review
"I've never been so excited for a book to come out, aside from the Harry Potter series."
— Luxe, Calme en Volupté
"It was heartbreaking to read the first several chapters and know without a doubt these things happen to immigrants. The author was incredibly talented in creating the dialogue of the characters. It was so pitch perfect I truly felt I was in China Town in New York City."
— A Novel Source
"Kwok's strength as a writer shines through in her presentation of language, whether it be Kimberly's often amusing misunderstandings of English words or Kwok's careful definition of odd Chinese phrases (presented in English, but understood to be communicated in Cantonese). A fascinating and heartbreaking tale."
— Entomology of a Bookworm
"Jean Kwok is a new novelist to watch. I received an advance of her first novel and loved it. Girl in Translation is awesome."
— Maurice on Books
"It is amazing to think of sweatshops & child labor in modern America but it exists. The author uses creative spelling to allow us to hear what Kimberly hears and sense the confusion that she experiences in her new world. I highly recommend this book."
— Dogberry Pages
"I saw glimmers of Betty Smith's, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Lisa See's books - both authors' work in which I have enjoyed. I'm definitely adding Jean Kwok to my "Waiting for More" list of authors."
— Thoughts of Joy
"This is a coming of age story with several twists. This is a story of society. It is a love story. It is a story of perseverance. I suspect Miss Kwok knows of what she writes. She emigrated from Hong Kong and worked at a clothing factory herself. Kwok has certainly gotten into the head of Kimberley and made her exceptionally real."
— The Shelf Stalker
"Kwok was an immigrant herself, and this shows in the authenticity of the story. I was riveted... I sped through this book in two days because I couldn’t put it down. Make sure to check this one out."
— Booklishly Fabulous
Back to top