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Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown
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Crown 2018
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018 BYNew York Times Critics • Wall Street Journal
  • Kirkus Reviews Christian Science Monitor
  • San Francisco ChronicleFinalist for the PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Biography AwardShortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Book PrizeThe deeply reported story of one indelible family transplanted from rural China to New York City, forging a life between two worlds In 2014, in a snow-covered house in Flushing, Queens, a village revolutionary from Southern China considered his options. Zhuang Liehong was the son of a fisherman, the former owner of a small tea shop, and the spark that had sent his village into an uproar—pitting residents against a corrupt local government. Under the alias Patriot Number One, he had stoked a series of pro-democracy protests, hoping to change his home for the better. Instead, sensing an impending crackdown, Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, left their infant son with relatives and traveled to America. With few contacts and only a shaky grasp of English, they had to start from scratch.In Patriot Number One, Hilgers follows this dauntless family through a world hidden in plain sight: a byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground asylum brokers and illegal dormitories that Flushing's Chinese community relies on for survival. As the irrepressibly opinionated Zhuang and the more pragmatic Little Yan pursue legal status and struggle to reunite with their son, we also meet others piecing together a new life in Flushing. Tang, a democracy activist who was caught up in the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, is still dedicated to his cause after more than a decade in exile. Karen, a college graduate whose mother imagined a bold American life for her, works part-time in a nail salon as she attends vocational school, and refuses to look backward.With a novelist's eye for character and detail, Hilgers captures the joys and indignities of building a life in a new country—and the stubborn allure of the American dream.
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    Format:
    Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
    Street Date:
    03/20/2018
    Language:
    English
    ISBN:
    9780451496157
    ASIN:
    B0738JYF52
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    Citations
    APA Citation (style guide)

    Lauren Hilgers. (2018). Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown. Crown.

    Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

    Lauren Hilgers. 2018. Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown. Crown.

    Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

    Lauren Hilgers, Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown. Crown, 2018.

    MLA Citation (style guide)

    Lauren Hilgers. Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown. Crown, 2018. Web.

    Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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    Date Added:
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    Date Updated:
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        • bioText: LAUREN HILGERS lived in Shanghai, China for six years. Her articles have appeared in Harper's, Wired, Businessweek, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in New York with her husband and their daughter.
        • name: Lauren Hilgers
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    Patriot Number One
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    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018 BY
    New York Times Critics • Wall Street Journal
  • Kirkus Reviews
    Christian Science Monitor
  • San Francisco Chronicle

    Finalist for the PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Biography Award
    Shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
    The deeply reported story of one indelible family transplanted from rural China to New York City, forging a life between two worlds


    In 2014, in a snow-covered house in Flushing, Queens, a village revolutionary from Southern China considered his options. Zhuang Liehong was the son of a fisherman, the former owner of a small tea shop, and the spark that had sent his village into an uproar—pitting residents against a corrupt local government. Under the alias Patriot Number One, he had stoked a series of pro-democracy protests, hoping to change his home for the better. Instead, sensing an impending crackdown, Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, left their infant son with relatives and traveled to America. With few contacts and only a shaky grasp of English, they had to start from scratch.
    In Patriot Number One, Hilgers follows this dauntless family through a world hidden in plain sight: a byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground asylum brokers and illegal dormitories that Flushing's Chinese community relies on for survival. As the irrepressibly opinionated Zhuang and the more pragmatic Little Yan pursue legal status and struggle to reunite with their son, we also meet others piecing together a new life in Flushing. Tang, a democracy activist who was caught up in the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, is still dedicated to his cause after more than a decade in exile. Karen, a college graduate whose mother imagined a bold American life for her, works part-time in a nail salon as she attends vocational school, and refuses to look backward.
    With a novelist's eye for character and detail, Hilgers captures the joys and indignities of building a life in a new country—and the stubborn allure of the American dream.
  • reviews
        • premium: False
        • source: New York Times
        • content: "Rich and absorbing... A penetrating profile of a man and much more besides: an indelible portrait of his wife and their marriage; a canny depiction of Flushing, Queens; a lucid anatomy of Chinese politics and America's immigration system... Hilgers observes all this with a sharp eye and an open heart... As evocative and engrossing as a novel."
        • premium: False
        • source: San Francisco Chronicle
        • content: "A superb account of Chinese immigrants in America... Stealing the show is Zhuang, irrepressible, quixotic, an endlessly scheming operator who finds his calling in activism.... [Patriot Number One] tells a powerful human story about America and the world in 2018."
        • premium: False
        • source: Publishers Weekly (starred)
        • content: "[A] clear-eyed, humane look at modern immigration... Hilgers' narrative intercuts between the dramatic rebellion in Wukan and a vibrant portrait of Flushing's Chinese diaspora built around fine-grained character studies drawn with equal parts empathy and humor. The result is a quintessentially American story of exile and renewal."
        • premium: True
        • source: Library Journal
        • content:

          October 1, 2017

          While living and working in China, journalist Hilgers interviewed protest leader Zhuang Liehong, who had been arrested for his activities. Later, after Hilgers moved to New York, Zhuang called her to explain that he and his wife, Little Yan, were planning to escape from their American tour group and move to Flushing, NY. Then they arrived on her doorstep. Hilgers, who won a MacDowell Fellowship to complete this book, chronicles their experiences as new immigrants as she captures key factors from language schools and employment offices to underground banks to illegal dormitories. She's also persuasively a part of the story. New York-set, nationally relevant.

          Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

        • premium: True
        • source: Publisher's Weekly
        • content:

          Starred review from January 8, 2018
          A battle for freedom segues into a struggle for survival in this clear-eyed, humane look at modern immigration. Journalist Hilgers, who lived in Shanghai for six years, spotlights the journey of Zhuang Liehong, who made powerful enemies in the Chinese village of Wukan when he organized protests against corrupt officials. Fearing arrest and dazzled by visions of American freedom and abundance, he and his wife Little Yan left their infant son in 2014 and fled on a tourist visa, ending up in the Chinese immigrant neighborhood of Flushing in New York City. Zhuang and Yan eventually get asylum and working documents, and their scramble for overpriced, overcrowded rooms and low-wage employment (in nail salons, restaurants, and the like) mirrors the experiences of many in New York. Instead of trying to make this an immigration horror story, Hilgers foregrounds the way the husband and wife adjust to their new home: Yan, pragmatically focused on mundane jobs and financial security, grows increasingly exasperated with the dreamer Zhuang’s fizzled business plans and his sense that political activism marks him for greater things. Hilgers’s narrative intercuts between the dramatic rebellion in Wukan and a vibrant portrait of Flushing’s Chinese diaspora built around fine-grained character studies drawn with equal parts empathy and humor. The result is a quintessentially American story of exile and renewal. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates.

        • premium: True
        • source: Kirkus
        • content:

          February 1, 2018
          Affecting portrait of a Chinese dissident who found a home among like-minded democrats in faraway New York.Journalist Hilgers, who has covered China for the New Yorker and Businessweek, among other publications, met Zhuang Liehong in his home village on the southern coast of China. There, in 2011, as she reported, villagers had rebelled against corrupt officials, who had returned to power with a vengeance, backed by a brutal police force. "A proud former village leader on the ragged outskirts of Guangdong Province's manufacturing boom," Zhuang knew he had to get out while he could, and he weighed three plans to escape, including finding a boat to take him to the American territory of Guam. He settled on an expensive solution, signing himself and his wife, Little Yan, up for a tour of the United States that they then overstayed, making their way to Flushing, where, in time, they encountered other dissidents, notably the Tiananmen Square protest leader Tang Yuanjun. Hilgers closely chronicles Zhuang's travails, among them the struggle to attain legal residency against the backdrop of an immigration regime that worried about offending China and seemed reluctant to house so public a figure, even if his renown had not spread widely in his adopted country. Finally, thanks to the pragmatic Little Yan, he found suitable work--and, thanks to Tang, continued his anti-corruption campaign in New York, protesting at Trump Tower, where an unimpressed Trump supporter yelled at him, "why do we have to pay attention to your problems?" Hilgers answers that question with admirable attention to narrative detail, giving a nuanced portrait of a vibrant working-class immigrant neighborhood comprising a "community of activists" who have lent dissidents like Tang and Zhuang their support.This excellent book makes a powerful argument for why the U.S. should always remain a place of sanctuary, benefiting immensely from those who arrive from other shores.

          COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
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    The deeply reported story of one indelible family transplanted from rural China to New York City, forging a life between two worlds


    In 2014, in a snow-covered house in Flushing, Queens, a village revolutionary from Southern China considered his options. Zhuang Liehong was the son of a fisherman, the former owner of a small tea shop, and the spark that had sent his village into an uproar—pitting residents against a corrupt local government. Under the alias Patriot Number One, he had stoked a series of pro-democracy protests, hoping to change his home for the better. Instead, sensing an impending crackdown, Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, left their infant son with relatives and traveled to America. With few contacts and only a shaky grasp of English, they had to start from scratch.
    In Patriot Number One, Hilgers follows this dauntless family through a...
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