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The Money Dragon
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The Money Dragon

By Pam Chun
2002, 333 pages, hardback.
Book Description from the Front Cover Flap
Comments from Back Cover
About the Author
From a Press Release Letter

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Book Description from the Front Cover Flap

Rising from a humble youth as a beggar, Lau Ah Leong comes to Hawai'i seeking fortune and success, earning him the name "The Money Dragon" for his relentless business drive. His desire for wealth is matched only by his lust for women, and he beguiles many wives and sires dozens of sons along the way. As the twentieth century dawns on the exotic islands, Ab Leong rules over a business empire, and keeps his chaotic family under control through his backbreaking demands and the fiery temper of his First wife, Dai--Kam. But when his First son's wife, the beautiful and headstrong Phoenix, arrives in Honolulu, the life that Ah Leong has built begins to slowly come apart.

Expecting a new life as a sophisticated wife of the wealthy merchant's son, Phoenix instead finds herself caught in a family of backstabbing wives and obedient sons. As she struggles to provide for her children, she unravels the legend of Ah Leong-how he was driven to poverty as a child, brought himself back to life after plunging to his death and amassed enough wealth to build enormous estates in his boyhood home of China. She watches as his relentless drive and stubborn nature put him at odds with the new American government. And when the trouble spreads within the family, Phoenix learns to keep secrets of her own as she fights to create a place for herself and her loved ones in the new world.

The Money Dragon is a timeless tale of a family struggling between love, greed, jealousy and loyalty. Pam Chun brings a new and powerful voice to Asian American fiction with this fascinating story of the tumult and opportunity that occur when the deep-rooted traditions of the Chinese people meet the brash, independent spirit of the Western world.

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Comments from Back Cover

"The Money Dragon is a meticulously rendered chronicle of the rise and fall of a legendary Chinese-Hawaiian family. A cautionary tale about one man's boundless appetite-for wealth, sex and power."
-Aimee Liu, author of Solitaire, Face and Cloud Mountain

"Pam Chun explores the delicate human relationship in this facinating and powerful story. It is a jewel in Chinese-American literature."
-Peter Xinping Zhou, Director of the East Asian Library, University of California Berkeley

"The Money Dragon is a beautiful and inspiring novel that will serve as a landmark to Pam Chun's authorship of many more that will hopefully follow."
-Tom McCullough, Senior Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley

"Pam Chun's family reminds me of my own in its eccentricities, ambitions, back-stabbing and romance. The Money Dragon is a wonderful and entertaining contribution to the world of Asian American stories."
-Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain

"The Money Dragon is a captivating depiction of the struggle of Chinese emigrants in a new and not always sympathetic land...It's a story that is hard to put down."
-John Stucky, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

"Fast-Past and utterly addictive."
-Kirkus Review

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Background on Pam Chun

Born and raised in Hawai'i, Pam Chun attended Punahou Academy and the University of Hawai'i and graduated with honors from the University of California at Berekeley. She lives in Alameda County, California. The Money Dragon is Pam's first novel.

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From a Press Release Letter

On the day of THE MONEY DRAGON's release in March 2002, Pam Chun received a Gubernatorial Commendation from California's Governor for giving "greater insight into the cultural traditions of the Chinese-American communily. Your dedication to artistic excellence has made a lasting impact on your communily and on the literary field."

In this stunning work of Chinese-American fiction, Pam Chun brings to life the story of Lau Ah Leong, the Money Dragon, the legendary founder of Honolulu's Chinatown. The great-granddaughter of Ah Leong, Chun reaches deep into her family history to deliver an account that depicts the tumult and opportunity that occurs when the deep-rooted traditions of the Chinese people conflict with the new American culture.

Lau Ah Leong brings to THE MONEY DRAGON the spirit of the old world and of traditional Chinese culture. Rising up from his status as the son of a poor beggar, Ah Leong embarks on a lifelong quest for honor and power. His dream is to return to China in a burst of glory and to impress the people who once considered him insignificant. Through hard, relentless work, Ah Leong becomes an extremely wealthy businessman and, as a conspicuous display of his success, takes five wives and fathers a large family. But at what expense?

Told in part through the narration of Phoenix, the wife of Ah Leong's first son Tat-Tung, the lines between greed, ambition, love and duty become blurred. While Phoenix is born and raised in China, she lives most of her life in Hawaii, as daughter-in-law to Ah Leong. She finds herself caught between two conflicting sets of values as family members take sides and the family is torn apart by greed.

THE MONEY DRAGON is the story of Pam Chun's family, but it is also the story of many Asian Americans as it depicts the traditional values of Asian cultures that often become upended in the new world. Although THE MONEY DRAGON is fiction, it includes authentic historical documents such as Ah Leong's Record of Naturalization and Immigration Forms, as well as photos of Ah Leong, his family, and his vast estates.

Upon its release, THE MONEY DRAGON was #5 on Hawaii's Best Seller list, and shot to #1 a week later. Pam Chun and THE MONEY DRAGON has been featured on National Public Radio and at the National Archives and Records Administration's Conference on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Pam Chun has presented the story behind THE MONEY DRAGON to the Chinese Historical Society of America, the Alameda Ubrary, the Oakland Asian Library, the Hawaii State Ubrary, the Associated Chinese University Women, the CAL Alumni Association, plus many bookstores, educational, cultural, and civic groups.

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