Southern Fried RIce is a personal story of life in my family’s laundry in Macon Ga., from 1928-1956 when we were the only Chinese in the entire city. As a child, I knew of several other Chinese men, mostly without families or with families left in China, living in Augusta, Atlanta, and parts of Alabama and Tennessee. Oddly enough, all of them had laundries so it was not surprising that I grew up thinking all Chinese were laundrymen.
I wrote this memoir to record what life was like for us in Georgia and then following our dramatic move to San Francisco in the early 1950s where we were no longer the only Chinese in town, but just one of hundred of Chinese families.
In doing research in connection with writing Southern Fried Rice, I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that there had been countless Chinese laundries in all parts of the U. S. and Canada, not to mention other countries, and that it was not an exceptional that so many Chinese I had direct knowledge of had been in the laundry business. Once I gained an understanding of the social and economic factors responsible for the laundry business becoming such a near universal occupation of Chinese immigrants l decided to write a followup book, Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain, to pay tribute to these hard working pioneers.
For more info and scholar comments about Southern Fried Rice:
To see a short television interview about the book: