tofu quilt

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I’ve never seen a book quite like Tofu Quilt. It is a collection of 38 free-verse poems about the author’s childhood in Hong Kong during the 1950s and 1960s, and her desire to become a writer, despite the fact that she is a girl and is not expected to have a career.

At the age of five, Yeung is rewarded with a special dessert called “dan lai” for being able to recite Chinese poetry from memory. The reward awakens in her a desire to become educated and have enough money to buy more dan lai.

Her mother sends her to a private school, despite the fact that the family is poor. At the age of eight, Yeung writes letters for her illiterate grandmother, and at the age of 10, she does piecework for factories in order to earn money to buy books. At 12, she sells a story to a local newspaper, and this is the beginning of her writing career.

The poems are simple, story-like, and heartfelt. Some are humorous. Here is a poem about Yeung’s favorite teacher.

Secret Wish

I remember Mr. Hon

once said that

a person should see more things

and open his eyes

if he wants to write a good story.

Ma cannot afford to send me off

to see things.

So I decide that

when I grow up,

I will not marry a doctor,

or a lawyer,

or a teacher,

or a businessman.

I will marry a bus driver,

who can drive me everywhere

to see the world

and it will be


And he must look like

Mr. Hon.

You can buy this book from my girls list.