Elm Place community celebrates local author
When Nicki Chen’s first novel, “Tiger Tail Soup,” appeared at the Edmonds Bookshop earlier this summer, her neighbors at Elm Place were among the first buyers.
And when Chen needed a place to hold a book launch, two of those neighbors, John and Sheila Valentine, offered their house.
On Aug. 25, the Valentines rearranged their living and dining rooms to accommodate seating for a reading and book signing, and cleared off their kitchen counters to make room for bottles of Washington wine and champagne and plates brimming with hors d’oeuvres and cookies.
“Tiger Tail Soup” tells the story of a Chinese woman struggling to survive and protect her family during the Japanese invasion of 1938 and the continuing war that later merged into World War II.
Chen’s late husband was born in the midst of that war, and it was the stories he told of his childhood that inspired her to write “Tiger Tail Soup.”
The narrator of the novel, An Lee, is a young wife and mother.
As the novel opens, she’s pregnant and wondering why her husband didn’t return from his business trip ten days earlier.
Stepping out onto the balcony, she hears bombs exploding in the distance. When her husband finally appears, he has exchanged his suit and tie for the uniform of a Chinese soldier.
During the next seven years An Lee sees her husband again only twice. Left alone, it’s up to her to protect their children, her mother and her mother-in-law.
For a few years their island, though surrounded by enemy forces, is spared from a full-scale invasion because of its status as an international treaty port. But on Dec. 7, 1941, the enemy launches a coordinated attack on Pearl Harbor and all the international enclaves in China.
In a matter of minutes, the island of Kulangsu becomes occupied territory, and life for the family enters a new, more challenging phase.
“Tiger Tail Soup” is available at Edmonds Bookshop and also on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Visit Chen’s blog at www.nickichenwrites.com.