The bestselling memoir from acclaimed writer Alice Pung.
Includes a free chapter of Alice Pung's new book Her Father's Daughter.
This is an original take on a classic story - how a child of immigrants moves between two cultures. In place of piety and predictability, however, Unpolished Gem offers a vivid and ironic sense of both worlds. It combines the story of Pung's life growing up in suburban Footscray with the inherited stories of the women in her family - stories of madness, survival and heartbreak. Original and brave, this is a girl's own story that introduces an unforgettable voice and captures the experience of Asian immigrants to Australia.
‘Alice Pung is a gem. Her voice is the real thing.’ —Amy Tan
‘There’s something striking on every page of Unpolished Gem.’ —Helen Garner
‘Unpolished Gem is virtuoso storytelling.’ —The Australian
‘A memoir so vivid that images from it linger behind your eyelids.’ —The Age
‘Intelligent and touching’ —The Herald Sun
‘Unpolished Gem is a delightful read – a funny, touching debut from a writer we’re sure to hear more from.’ —The Courier Mail
"I was doomed, early on, to be a word-spreader," Pung writes, and her special burden was "to tell these stories that the women of my family made me promise never to tell a soul." The stories are not of scandalous secrets or shocking revelations, but of the struggles faced by three generations of Asian women as they settle in a culturally Western country. Pung, a lawyer, recounts the journey her family made over the decades from China, her grandparents' birthplace, to Cambodia, where her parents are born, through Vietnam and Thailand to Australia where, one month after their arrival, Pung is born. In retelling her grandmother's stories, the imagined is rendered credible; Pung captures her "form of magic, the magic of words that became movies in mind." In recollecting her own story, Pung loses that magic in the ordinariness of adolescence, and as the family moves toward achieving the "Great Australian Dream," it passes through familiar stages the hard work of both parents, the distance created between generations and the anxieties suffered by the younger generation ("I had done everything right, and I had turned out so wrong"). The non-European-immigrant-girl-grows-up story is a familiar one to American readers. What's new about Pung's book is the Australian setting. That twist of focus reveals how more alike than different the experience is.