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Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim: 10/27/20
Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim opens in Montreal on the news that Natalie's mother has died. She returns home to Chinatown in San Francisco to her mother's estate in order.
Natalie it turns out is a chef and her grandmother ran a successful restaurant in San Francisco. She's shocked to find it in her mother's building. She decides to get it up and running. To be successful, though, she must follow Miss Yu's orders and cook three meals to help her neighbors.
That plot alone would have been sufficient. Combined with meeting a handsome tech worker and discovering the truth about her father, this novel would have been a sweet romance with some magical elements.
Unfortunately, Lim includes a subplot about gentrification that doesn't fit the location. The San Francisco Chinatown that Natalie returns to is one that is falling into disrepair and is being encroached upon by the tech industry. What the author is describing, in San Francisco terms, is South of Market (or SoMa) from twenty years ago. Chinatown has faced this particular threat.
That's not to say San Francisco's Chinatown isn't facing a form of gentrification. Chinatown remains a vibrant, active Chinese / Chinese-American neighborhood. Where the threat comes from is Chinese investors who have been buying up restaurants and hotels to make high end travel destinations.
So does Lim's version of gentrification make sense in the context of a Chinatown? Yes. It's what's happening in Montreal. Thus it would have made more sense to reverse the cities: making it a tale of a Canadian woman in the Bay Area who must return home to Montreal to put her mother's estate in order, and decides to stay.
Comment #1: Wednesday, October, 28, 2020 at 04:25:50
Not being familiar with wither locations you make an interesting point, thanks for sharing your thoughts
Comment #2: Wednesday, October 30, 2020 at 19:41:50
I live about 35 miles away from San Francisco. Both of my kids have been to Chinatown on field trips in recent years. If I lived anywhere else, I probably wouldn't have picked up on the problem.