Sons of Chinatown: A Memoir Rooted in China and America (Hardcover)

Sons of Chinatown: A Memoir Rooted in China and America By William Gee Wong Cover Image

Sons of Chinatown: A Memoir Rooted in China and America (Hardcover)


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William Gee Wong was born in Oakland, California’s Chinatown in 1941, the only son of his father, known as Pop. Pop was born in Guangdong Province, China and emigrated to Oakland as a teenager during the Chinese Exclusion era in 1912. He entered the U.S. legally as the “son of a native,” despite having partially false papers. Sons of Chinatown is Wong’s evocative dual memoir of his and his father’s parallel experiences in America.

As Pop grappled with the systemic racism towards Asians during the exclusion era, Wong wistfully depicts Pop’s efforts to establish a family business and build a life for his family in segregated Oakland. As the exclusion law ended in 1943, young William was assimilating into American life and developing his path as a journalist. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Oakland Tribune, and Asian American periodicals, Wong chronicled Asian American experiences while honoring Chinese American history and identity, but he too faced discrimination.

Sons of Chinatown poignantly weaves these father and son stories together with admiration and righteous anger. Through the mirrored lens of his father, Wong reflects on the hardships Asian Americans endured—and continue to face—with American exceptionalism. Wong’s inspiring memoir provides a personal history that also raises the question of whether America welcomes or repels immigrants.
Writer and journalist William Gee Wong has been a regional commentator for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and a columnist for the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Asian Week, among other publications. He is the author of Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America (Temple).  Visit him online at

Product Details ISBN: 9781439924877
ISBN-10: 1439924872
Publisher: Temple University Press
Publication Date: March 1st, 2024
Pages: 280
Language: English
“By the end of this ultimately uplifting narrative, Wong displays a deeper understanding of his sometimes obdurate, yet determined, perseverant parents…. A forthright account of a family’s success in building a strong, positive Chinese American identity.”Kirkus Reviews