reviews

interviews

 

reviews of the play

what y'all said.

Here are some e-mail comments readers have sent me... thanks to all of you who took the time out to write! Ter.

*****

"It's about time somebody presents the Asian Canadian demographic correctly. All major characters are normal CBCs you'd meet in real life; no kung fu masters, no gangsters, and certainly no William Hung! However, this novel also has a lot to say about friendship, and the importance of it. Read it... you might learn something." 

*****

"I've read a lot of books in my day, but nothing has captured me quite like this. Being a student in Waterloo, I recommend this book to anyone who went or is currently attending Wilfrid Laurier University or Waterloo University. Mentioning common bars such as Bomber, it creates a window as well as a mirror to student life there. The characters are absolutely hilarious and easy to relate to, especially if you're CBC. All CBCs MUST read this book, it is absolutely terrific!!! Couldn't put it down for days." 

*****

"I have read the book and... i have to say that i think it gave a pretty close rendition of what it's like to really be an asian growing up in predominantly non-asian environment. Although the main characters were all male, i was able to relate quite consistently with nearly all issues put forth, as well as recognize characteristics of certain secondary people reminiscent of those who have passed through my life.  I think it's a totally awesome book! And (gratefully) an easy read."

*****

"This is absolutely a FANTASTIC book! I couldn't put it down. After being sickened by other books about 'three generations of Chinese women escaping the shackles of bond slavery,' it is so refreshing to finally read this book about the Chinese Canadians/Americans in THE REAL WORLD TODAY. Thanks..."

*****

"I finished banana boys a few weeks ago and what a fantastic book. You have captured, critiqued, and criticized (alliteration will save us all) what I see as Chinese-Canadian culture, in a nutshell. I am a university student majoring in English, and while that may not mean much, it does mean that I read a lot of books- and I have not read something so immediately engaging, poignant, and utterly refreshing since I picked up my first Douglas Coupland novel. Take this as a compliment, as he is my favorite writer. For possibly the umpteenth time since its publication, congratulations on a phenomenal novel."

*****

"I finished your book a couple of weeks ago, and have been meaning to write you a note to tell you how much I liked it. It was excellent! Very readable, interesting, insightful, funny, unique. (Not the Joy Luck Club, that's 
for sure)...
I was particularly drawn to cultural and music references... It all felt very familiar.  Maybe it's a generational thing, because I'm certainly neither male nor of Asian descent, but there was a lot of stuff I could definitely relate to in this book."

*****

"One day I picked up a copy of Banana Boys and started reading. And reading and reading . . .I read in the morning before work, on the subway, when I arrived home from work, and sometimes I hid the book so I could read it at my desk... I didn't expect to get so sucked in so quickly. I didn't expect to identify with the characters as much as I did."

*****

"I really enjoyed your book. You managed to to make the lives of these seemingly average Banana Boys into something that held a lot more magic. You didn't do that by throwing these lessons into our face, but by being subtle and raising questions in my mind. The most important thing was that it was fun to read!"

*****

"I really enjoyed Banana Boys which I read in a month (that's very good for my rate of reading). Your humour is clever and I *love* it. Especially the racial incidence log. The wide range of references contributed to it too. It was not cheap humour. Also, I love how you capture small details, that most people cannot verbalize, with such precision (even with graphs! That was great, I think like that sometimes...very graphically, but I didn't think anyone else did). I'm sure many ppl love your book because it helps them put into words what they feel."

*****

Fabulous! Banana Boys sparked some great conversations among my group of friends about our relationships and about the experience of being half in one world and half in another. The characters in the story felt very real and imperfect...it was easy to identify with their flaws and frustrations. The author should be commended on his accessible style and insight. Banana Boys was a quick read because it was hard to put down.

*****

I'm so glad that someone has written a book about CBCs! Woo has definitely filled a niche that has been left wanting for too long! There are endless anecdotes that had me nodding my head in agreement: parental expectations, my 4 yrs at Waterloo, the mating habits of HK fobs, the curious feeling of being stuck in cultural limbo...I even laughed out loud!

*****

This book is AMAZING! As far as I know, there's never been a book written about Asian-Canadians like us. All the others are semi-fictional epics of the Railroad workers or war refugees. This is much much different. It's the story about five guys, Luke, Dave, Sheldon, Rick and Mike, self-described to be "Banana Boys: yellow on the outside and white on the inside - caugh in cultural and social limbo. Not really Chinese and not quite Canadian." In some ways, it's like Seinfeld, a book about nothing. In many other ways, it's like Catcher in the Rye, just a bunch of guys telling it like it is. If you've ever read Catcher in the Rye, you'll know that Holden Caulfield is a guy you can really identify with. Well, in this book, take that identification factor and multiply it 500 times. Not only are these guys Asian, they're also University age, they live in Toronto, middle-class, and they've all pretty much faced the same racism, pressures, awkwardness, frustrations that we've all went through.

*****

Funny, insightful, honest and refreshing look into the lives of minority Canadians during / after the university experience; and, the roads they took to get themselves there. You could insert another Canadian born visible minority and come up with a similar story. The parallels are astonishing. The book also provides insight to the social / love life or lack thereof for many engineering students. Our mothers never told us about days like this.

*****

"Hi there, just wanted to drop a line and say a quick congratulations....SPECTACULAR BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I enjoyed it very much, it relates to me in so many ways....I too have a group of...BANANA BOYS!!!!...anyway, great job!!!"

*****

"Thank you so much for writing Banana Boys. It's one of my favourite books. I have recommended it to so many of my friends, and those who gave it a try were glad to have read it."

*****

"I am at page 192 right now and so much of it I read and think to myself, 'I can't wait to get to the end of this, this is me in 4 years...'"

*****

"I, like many others I am sure, want to say that you have written a fucking beautiful piece of work ... when I finally bought it I read it in less than three days. I work usually ten hour days at a horrid soulless job at a medical market research firm, and man, Banana Boys really messed up my sleep. I was going to work in a daze for a while there. Man, I wanted to laugh, weep, and shout on every page. I couldn't believe how spot-on you got things... "Why does it hurt so goddamn much?" and "He holds onto his bitterness like it's precious." Beautiful shit, man! I'm forcing this on all of my Chinese friends."

*****

"I can finally say that it is not because I am shy but can now say I am "NORMAL"! :)"

*****

"I'd just like to take a moment and thank you for writing that novel, which my friend and I picked up at the World's Biggest Bookstore two Christmas's ago ... the reason that the book is particularly intriguing for me goes beyond the fact that I am a banana boy myself.  It has a lot to do with the fact that I am also an aspiring writer, and it seems to me that aspiring, young, writers of the Asian male persuasion are hard to find.  Your book really inspired me, in the sense that it gave me some reinforcement of things that I could accomplish.  Dreams like publishing my own stories, a novel, don't seem so farfetched when I see a novel like yours sitting at my favorite bookshop, knowing that our own backgrounds cannot be all that far removed from one another."

*****

"First of all, thanks a lot for writing Banana Boys, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I made sure to pass it around to all my CBC friends to read too ... a lot of my friends are Waterloo engineers and know exactly what you mean and can relate a lot. I go to U of T so things are slightly different, but all of our CBC / banana stories are pretty much the same. It was shocking for me to read BBoys the first time through because so many of the things you wrote about rang true with me. I especially liked the Simpson's quotes, CFMT jokes and the "eat your oranges" advice."

*****

"Just wanted to drop you a note saying that i totally loved your book. I was doing an independent study on asian-american and asian-cdn women last year, and your book popped up on the search screen. I ordered it from the library and didn't get to read it until december (that's right! your book has good a huge waiting list). Well, it was scary how everything you wrote hit home. I couldn't put the book down - even tho i had loads of reading at school to do, i read your book instead."

*****

"I read "Banana Boys" in a near-unbroken weekend session interrupted only by cigarettes (47), cups of coffee (7), and cans of cheap-ass beer (17). Each time Luke waxed poetic on the soundtrack accompanying his life, I broke out the same CDs and took dance breaks between turning the pages. Thank you for the aching and familiar detail invested into each character's heartbreak, alienation, misanthropic confusion, transient joy, gluey underlying bonds of friendship... Occasionally I laughed so hard that the upstairs neighbour knocked worriedly and timidly at my door. Three weeks later, I still can't get your book out of my head; various vignettes bubble up during moments of mouth-tightening bitterness and unabashed delirious elation. That's all. Thanks."

*****

"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this book. For a long time I couldn't articulate to myself or others my banananess. My group of friends and I dubbed ourselves the Banana Bunch and couldn't understand why mom said it was an offensive name. I didn't know what to call myself. I didn't know why I didn't fit in the the Canadians or the FOBs. But I finally got the hang of it and this book was just icing. I'm making sure all my "whitewashed" Chinese and Indian friends read this book because it articulates so well what it's like to not belong to any cultural group."

*****

"This is not just about bananas you know. This is about oreo cookies as well. All us oreos would immediately connect to the angst. As an example, I always resented the notion that not having a Jamaican accent somehow made me less black than another. Having a good job and excellent manners still raises eyebrows of suprise (not as bad as it was 15 years ago), even though most of black friends are pretty articulate smart and well off...anyways, banana boys seems to be turning into something of a grass-roots pop culture classic. I can't wait to see what the future holds."

*****

"I thought it was really good. Scary at some parts, because they were so familiar. Especially now, heavy drinking dudes in cultural limbo, with screwed up families, totally inept concerning the opposite sex...that's me, totally."

*****

"It was easy to read, had some seriously twisted humour (the Venn diagram) and characters all bananas can totally relate to. Putting the Canadian jeuk sing jei experience out there has been long overdue, so cheers to you for doing it so eloquently."

*****

"i could relate to just about every emotion and situation, it was eerie. i also talked to a good friend from Vancouver who said he felt like he wrote the book. did we all turn out this way?...it's really incredible and next time someone asks what the fuck is wrong with me, I'll just tell them to read it."

*****

"As I read your novel and chuckled at familiar references, theories and experiences, I unfortunately had to cross off ideas and anecdotes that I was going to use in My Book and now I'm down to practically nothing; I may now have to resort to writing the first Chinese John Grisham instead..."

*****

"...as a fellow banana (I grew up in Canada from the age of 2), your book crystallized many thoughts/feelings/revelations I have had over the years. I guess I'm not so crazy after all. A book like yours was long overdue. Keep up the good work."

*****

"I actually stayed up till 5:30 AM to finish the book.... i read it all in two sittings on the weekend... Damn, that book reads like the story of my life. I read it again this week! If I were to ever write a book, this would be it, something close to it at least. As I read the book, I couldn't believe how much the thoughts and actions of the characters were similar to mine. I could most relate with Shel and Mike, but really to all of them on some level or other...I think i pretty much picked up on every single reference to waterloo, being a banana, having Chinese parents etc, etc. Thank you very much for writing this book."

*****

"I just finished reading Banana Boys last night. It was recommended to me by my best friend who thought I would be interested. I am admittedly sometimes a reader of books that described "three generations of Chinese women escaping the shackles of bondslavery." Initially, I thought BB would be SOMEWHAT similar. I thoroughly enjoyed being proven wrong. The quirky insights your characters made were fascinating, as it's always surprising and entertaining to read observations made by others that one would've thought had only ever been pondered by oneself. The Banana Boys' opinions and reflections on Asian women, especially, are laugh-out-loud comical. How perceptive you probably are to be able to catch everyday details in order to make the book's character seem so alive with thought."

*****

"Man...can you write. I haven't enjoyed a book like that in a while and I read a hell of a lot (as a starving actor, I have a lot of time on my hands)...It's about !@!!#*@ time someone wrote a compelling, edgy Canadian story. I mean a story that shows a different side of Canada than the usual dramas about prarie people or fisher guys in Newfoundland... Anyway, I'll stop droning now and conclude with a heartfelt 'thank you'. I really believe you've given Canadian literature as well as Banana Boys all over the country a gift in your book. So again, on behalf of all bananas from the West, thank you and congratulations."

*****

"I was just wasting time in Chapters (on Bloor) one day and I saw your (or whomever it may concern's) book on the table of "Canadian Fiction" and I bought it because it seemed pretty interesting from my point of view (and I don't usually read too much fiction). Usually I return books to Chapters a few days after purchase when I have either finished with or become utterly bored by a particular book. But in the case of "Banana Boys" I actually read the whole thing and enjoyed it and I didn't return it!"

*****

"I just finished reading Banana Boys. Wow, good stuff! This is the fastest I've ever read a book in recent memory: 400 pages in one week. You know the book Catcher in the Rye? It's like that, except I can identify with these characters about 500 hundred times as much as I can identify with Holden Caulfield. I am convinced that Luke, Dave, Mike, Sheldon, and even Rick are 5 manifestations of me, and probably every other banana boy out there. I'm all too impressed that you're able to summarize all my thoughts and feelings of my past 20 years in just 400 pages. It's all there! I can't believe it. I've always been waiting for a book like this one and it finally came...if it didn't, I would've had to try writing one of my own..."

*****

"DOOD! Your book is freaking AWESOME. I was doing a paper on Asian authors and I came across your book. Read it. Read it. Read it again. You are a god."

*****

"All I can say is wow! Rick and World Domination, Mike being scared of women. No matter if you are a Banana Boy or not you can relate to a lot of this book… I saw your article in the National Post and see there is another book in the works. I can't wait for it. I have never read the Joy Luck Club but I think I have to know to get some of the nuances of your book. Anyway keep it up, the world needs more original writing like yours."

*****

"I think the book is brilliant, and I believe you have achieved outstandingly elevating literatures concerning CBCs to another level. We're not living among the late 1800s early 1900s anymore, we're living in reality, in present. I think that is the best part of the book, that this is situated in reality, it's a problem that exists right now, not then, not later. It's really really great! It's the best book I've ever read in my entire 18 years of life!"

*****

"Just thought I would drop a line about how much I enjoyed this book. It manages to truly capture the attitudes, emotions and mind-set of a forgotten, under-appreciated and often misunderstood segment of Canadian society - the CBC's. As a banana boy myself, I can totally relate to the antics of the archetypical personalities of Luke, Sheldon, Mike and Dave. This is a type of book that deserves a wider audience, and I am more than happy to recommend it to friends and family."

*****

"I was procrastinating from studying for my finals at my friend's place, and he just happened to have a couple books lying around. One really caught my eye since it was bright yellow, so I picked it up and started reading. And I couldn't put it down! [i'm about halfway through and have barely even started on my linguistics]...I'm an aspiring Chinese Canadian writer, and have always been sickened by the mainstream Amy Tan novels. Your book has style, guts and wit - not the usual pathetic Asian identity crisis themes."

*****

" I came across banana boys by fluke and happened to pick up a copy over the Christmas holidays. Never heard of it in my life. Have to admit that once I picked it up, I could hardly put it down. I honestly enjoyed the novel due to its realism and boldness. I thought it was humorous yet still relays a very significant and important message for today's society. Just thought that you might want to know that your book has touched me and I have in turn passed it out and shared it with many friends. Thank you for the insight."

*****

"I just finished your book. I came across it accidentally at the UofT bookstore while I was browsing. I don't know where to start. I couldn't put it down. I loved it...Your book is what I've always been yearning for. A literary actualization of all the anxiety I've felt growing up in TO. I wish I had a group of Banana Boy friends myself. Everything you wrote rang true... Thank you for your book. It really made me feel better. Less alone. It makes me want to seek out Banana Boys and become friends with them. Without a culture of my own, I've always sought for one in pop culture. Your book was the first time I saw my own reflection."