In this life-affirming novel, a surprising prophecy upends a family curse that has plagued generations of Viet women.
Good to know
Why I love it
Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Author, The Last Story of Mina Lee
Haven’t we all felt cursed?
I mean doomed doomed like we need Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his gaggle of genealogists to figure out why, pour quoi especially me? We sit on floors of friends’ apartments like campsites for Trader Joe’s wine, the deepest-dish pizza, and cat Tarot cards. And let’s face it—it’s a good time to be a witch.
We are not alone. And it’s not just aliens that I’m referring to but our very own moms. And their moms. And our sisters. And all the people with moms. The bard of boba, Carolyn Huynh has given us an intergenerational gift in The Fortunes of Jaded Women. In this laugh-out-loud millennial meet-cute comedy of errors full of superstitiously heavy handbags and delightful pettiness, the characters are so funny and familiar you might feel a little embarrassed for and a little more in love with yourself and the brazen ridiculous women in your life. This book is also an endearing homage to the bad-assness of immigrants and refugees, the rambunctious yet nourishing communities (and broths) we create wherever we go.
There’s real healing in this book for even the most cursed. The Fortunes of Jaded Women is a reminder that it’s not only trauma we inherit, but laughter, intimacy, and a scientific approach to choosing the best table at dim sum. Thank you, ancestors.
Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Dương sisters were cursed.
It started with their ancestor Oanh who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Dương women would give birth to daughters, never sons.
Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyễn knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Phạm (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyến Lâm (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thủy, and Thảo, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.
Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hứa, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.