Growing up in Queens as the only child of a single mother, author and professor Ava Chin never really knew her origins. In her deeply researched memoir, Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming, she traces her family’s history from the Pearl River Delta in southern China to the titular New York City street in the heart of Chinatown where her relatives would put down permanent roots. Chin delights in recalling the lives of her more colorful ancestors, like Chin On, her hard-drinking, hatchet-carrying paternal great-grandfather. But she also writes unflinchingly of the racism and marginalization her family faced after arriving in the American West in the mid-19th century. In painstaking detail, she breaks down the effects the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which blocked Chinese immigrants from citizenship for six decades, has had on generations of families who still face discrimination today. Mott Street is a sensitively told story of survival, resilience, and resistance. —Shannon Carlin
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