“On Gold Mountain”—Sierra Madre’s 2011 “One Book One City” Selection

Activities Planned Throughout February 

Lisa See, author of "On Gold Mountain," Sierra Madre's One Book, One City selection for 2011

The Sierra Madre Public Library is pleased to announce “On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family,” by Lisa See, as the City’s 2011 One Book One City selection.  With a full schedule of events throughout February celebrating Chinese culture, highlighted by a program and book signing with Ms. See, the Library invites everyone to read this highly acclaimed multi-generational family saga that traces the emigration and establishment in California of one of the most esteemed Chinese families in America. 

Lisa See is perhaps best known for her novel, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” for which she traveled to a remote area of China to research the “secret writing” that was invented and used by Chinese women for more than a thousand years.  Hailed as “imaginative” and “achingly beautiful,” the novel became a New York Times Best Seller, with foreign-language rights sold to 38 countries.  A movie based on the novel is scheduled to be released in 2011.

Ms. See’s other novels include “Peony in Love” and “Shanghai Girls,” absorbing bestsellers with unique stories based on the lives of Chinese women in the 17th and mid-20th centuries, respectively.  The idea for a mystery novel, “Flower Net,” which was nominated for an Edgar Award, was developed as she was doing research for “On Gold Mountain.

Ms. See was born in Paris and raised in Los Angeles.  Although she lived with her mother, she was able to spend countless hours with her father’s family in Chinatown. “On Gold Mountain” was her first book, undertaken when she was approached by her aged “aunties” to document their family history.  The book traces the journey of Lisa’s great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame unrelenting obstacles to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family. The breadth of the book extends beyond a personal family saga, however, providing an in-depth historical perspective of the Sino-American diaspora, and of a culture in transition, often hidden from Western eyes.

It is hoped that One Book One City will inspire members of the community to engage in reading the same book at the same time.  In addition to giving people an opportunity to read a notable book, the Library is organizing a number of events to explore the book and its cultural perspective in depth. Copies of “On Gold Mountain” are available for checkout at the Library and for purchase at Sierra Madre Books.

The One Book One City kickoff, which will include activities celebrating Chinese New Year, is set for Saturday, February 5, 2:00–4:00 p.m. at the Library.  A martial arts demonstration by Joy of Kung Fu, and a traditional Lion Dance performed by the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Association will be among the afternoon’s highlights.  A Dragon Dance craft for the youngsters will take place in the Children’s Room.  Finger Foods will be provided by Panda Inn of Pasadena.

All are invited to “An Afternoon with Lisa See: China, Chinatown, and Family History,” on Saturday, February 12, at 2:00 p.m., in the City’s newly refurbished Sierra Madre Room at the Community Services Center, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. 

An “On Gold Mountain” book discussion will take place on Thursday, February 10, at 6:00 p.m. at Sierra Madre Books, 52. W. Sierra Madre Blvd.  The Library’s own Third Thursday Book Club will discuss Ms. See’s “Shanghai Girls,” on February 17, at 11:00 a.m. at the Library.

A Memoir Writing Workshop conducted by Denise Clemen will be held at the Library on Thursday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m.

Concluding the month’s activities will be “The Joy of Tea,” presented by Linda Louie, Saturday, February 26, 2:00-3:00 p.m., at the Library.  Ms. Louie will teach the essentials of the Chinese Gongfu Tea Ceremony, followed by a tasting of rare Pu-erh tea made from centuries-old wild tea trees.

All One Book One City events are free and open to the public, and are funded by the Sierra Madre Civic Club and the Friends of the Library.

The Sierra Madre Public Library is located at 440 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., in Sierra Madre.  For more information, please call 626-355-7186, or visit the Library website at www.sierramadre.lib.ca.us.

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