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Mott Street: A Chinese American Family's Story of Exclusion and Homecoming (2023)

por Ava Chin

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Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:A sweeping narrative history of the Chinese Exclusion Act through an intimate portrayal of one family??s epic journey to lay down roots in America

* A Good Morning America and Book Riot Most-Anticipated Book *  
As the only child of a single mother in Queens, Ava Chin found her family??s origins to be shrouded in mystery. She had never met her father, and her grandparents?? stories didn??t match the history she read at school. Mott Street traces Chin??s quest to understand her Chinese American family??s story. Over decades of painstaking research, she finds not only her father but also the building that provided a refuge for them all.
Breaking the silence surrounding her family??s past meant confronting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882??the first federal law to restrict immigration by race and nationality, barring Chinese immigrants from citizenship for six decades. Chin traces the story of the pioneering family members who emigrated from the Pearl River Delta, crossing an ocean to make their way in the American West of the mid-nineteenth century. She tells of their backbreaking work on the transcontinental railroad and of the brutal racism of frontier towns, then follows their paths to New York City.
In New York??s Chinatown she discovers a single building on Mott Street where so many of her ancestors would live, begin families, and craft new identities.  She follows the men and women who became merchants, ??paper son? refugees, activists, and heads of the Chinese tong, piecing together how they bore and resisted the weight of the Exclusion laws. She soon realizes that exclusion is not simply a political condition but also a personal one.
Gorgeously written, deeply researched, and tremendously resonant, Mott Street uncovers a legacy of exclusion and resilience that speaks to the Ameri
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Ava Chin's Mott Street is a memoir but it's also a history of Chinese people in the United States, from workers on the transcontinental railroad, to the holding center at Angel Island in San Francisco, to the Chinese Exclusion Act. ( )
  ablachly | Mar 11, 2024 |
Mott Street is the most prominent street in New York City's Chinatown, and it's where many of author Ava Chin's ancestors settled on their arrival in the United States in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. It's also the fulcrum around which this book is organised, as Chin delves into both four generations of her own family's history and the history of Chinese migration to the U.S. There are many vibrant figures on Chin's family tree, whether related to her by birth or by marriage—one grandfather ran the first coffee shop in Chinatown; one great-great-uncle found an enduring love match with a Swedish-American intersex woman—who lived through many momentous events in modern history.

This is a wide-ranging book on a topic that Chin is clearly passionate about, and it's well worth the read if you have a curiosity about this time and place. However, I thought that Mott Street wasn't structured in the most effective manner, and the imagined dialogue that Chin sometimes places in her ancestors' mouths (although thankfully set off in italics from the rest of the text) often displayed some of the worst tendencies of historical fiction. ( )
  siriaeve | Feb 22, 2024 |
nonfiction - stories of a Chinese American woman's ancestors, collected over a lifetime and compiled into a captivating look at generations of history (from the 1800s through the 1940s and the post war period), and the impact of xenophobia and Exclusion on the Chinese American experiences, with enough artistic license to bring her grandparents and greats and great greats to life.

Ms. Chin is skilled at recreating these histories, calling up the thoughts and questions and feelings that her ancestors may have felt (and that many others in similar situations undoubtedly felt). She also possesses the journalistic tenacity to keep digging for all the truths that lay buried underneath decades and centuries of dust. The result is this extremely readable volume that spans generations of individuals enduring anti-Asian policy that continues to affect us to this day. If you have any Chinese ancestors, more than likely one of these stories (or several of these stories) -- being held for weeks/months at Angel Island, being interrogated/dehumanized by immigration officials, sneaking across the Canadian border, being relegated to jobs that no one else wanted before being run out of town by an angry mob whenever the economy took a downturn, enlisting to fight in a war in order to prove loyalty to America, being undocumented and fearing the next anti-Asian raid of immigration officials/police -- rings true to your family.

A fascinating and illuminating look at American history. ( )
  reader1009 | May 2, 2023 |
I received an advance copy of this book. thank you

I was interested in reading this book, since I've been to Chinatown often, and have wondered about its history.
Ava Chin has done a remarkable job in tracing her family back. She opened my eyes to parts of American history that I wasn't aware of. I find it hard to imagine the toll of leaving one's country, traveling for weeks, and finding back breaking work, settling in and eventually calling this new place home. Ms. Chin discovers and explores her relatives journeys, like so many others, and it is amazing.
In this book, you'll learn not only of her family, but of the history and paths many others took to get to the United States. ( )
  cjyap1 | Feb 23, 2023 |
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:A sweeping narrative history of the Chinese Exclusion Act through an intimate portrayal of one family??s epic journey to lay down roots in America

* A Good Morning America and Book Riot Most-Anticipated Book *  
As the only child of a single mother in Queens, Ava Chin found her family??s origins to be shrouded in mystery. She had never met her father, and her grandparents?? stories didn??t match the history she read at school. Mott Street traces Chin??s quest to understand her Chinese American family??s story. Over decades of painstaking research, she finds not only her father but also the building that provided a refuge for them all.
Breaking the silence surrounding her family??s past meant confronting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882??the first federal law to restrict immigration by race and nationality, barring Chinese immigrants from citizenship for six decades. Chin traces the story of the pioneering family members who emigrated from the Pearl River Delta, crossing an ocean to make their way in the American West of the mid-nineteenth century. She tells of their backbreaking work on the transcontinental railroad and of the brutal racism of frontier towns, then follows their paths to New York City.
In New York??s Chinatown she discovers a single building on Mott Street where so many of her ancestors would live, begin families, and craft new identities.  She follows the men and women who became merchants, ??paper son? refugees, activists, and heads of the Chinese tong, piecing together how they bore and resisted the weight of the Exclusion laws. She soon realizes that exclusion is not simply a political condition but also a personal one.
Gorgeously written, deeply researched, and tremendously resonant, Mott Street uncovers a legacy of exclusion and resilience that speaks to the Ameri

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