My English translation of “On Whom to Lean” arrived (#ChineseAmerican #OralHistory #LifeStories #Memoirs #Biographies #Identity #Migrants)


Finally got my hands on this wonderful book — On Whom to Lean: The Life Stories of the War-Torn Generation of Chinese Americans at Rossmoor (by Zong-Yi Li, published in August 2017) — which took me nine long months to translate from Chinese to English.

Here is an introduction to the book on

On Whom to Lean: The Life Stories of the War-Torn Generation of Chinese Americans at Rossmoor is a collection of memoirs of a group of senior Chinese-American immigrants who retired together in the same community of Rossmoor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of them represented the first wave of Chinese immigrants who came to this country during or right after World War II. Unlike the earlier generations of immigrants, they did not come to seek fortune. Many were university students coming for advanced studies or on Chinese government service. They became stranded in this country because of the change of Chinese Government. Through hard work in this land of opportunity, they were able, each on their own way, to settle down, make a success of their career.

The book, originally written in Chinese and was published in 2015 by a junior resident of Rossmoor, contains the life stories of sixteen such senior Chinese-American couples. At least one of each couple has lived into the age of 90s. They have a wide range of backgrounds, occupations and interests. The artfully written narratives that tell their stories from young age to maturity are both instructive and pleasant to read. Their lives are depicted in a historical context, starting from wartime in China and following their arrival in the United States. Individually, their stories, even at difficult times, are compelling, upbeat and filled with anecdotes. Collectively, their stories epitomize an uncommon generation of Chinese immigrants who took up challenges, availed themselves of opportunities, made many accomplishments in their professional careers and eventually congregate in a peaceful community to enjoy retirement.

My Translator’s Note can be found here. A special thanks to Steve Goschnick who made a significant contribution to the book’s editing.


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