Most people think I'm exaggerating at first when I talk
about the Chinese Squawking Chicken. But once they actually spend
some time with her, they understand. They get it. Right away. She's
Chinese, she squawks like a chicken, she is totally nuts, and I am
totally dependent on her.
When Elaine Lui was growing up, her mother told her, "Why do you
need to prepare for the good things that happen? They're good. They
won't hurt you. My job is to prepare you for the hard times, and
teach you how to avoid them, whenever possible." Neither
traditionally Eastern nor conventionally Western, the Squawking
Chicken raised her daughter drawing on Chinese fortune-telling,
feng shui blackmail, good old-fashioned ghost stories, and shame
and embarrassment in equal measure. And despite years of chafing
against her mother's parenting style, Elaine came to recognize the
hidden wisdom-and immeasurable value-in her rather unorthodox
Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of
unusual advice and warnings used to teach Elaine about hard work
("Miss Hong Kong is a whore"), humility ("I should have given birth
to a piece of barbecue pork"), love and friendship, family loyalty
("Where's my money?"), style and deportment ("Don't be low
classy"), finding one's own voice ("Walk like an elephant, squawk
like a chicken") among other essentials. Along the way, Elaine
poignantly reveals how her mother earned the nickname "Tsiahng Gai"
or "squawking chicken" growing up in Hong Kong, enduring and rising
from the ashes of her own hard times.
Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving
mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud,
gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes
to be a parent.