A tailor in post-Tiananmen China, Mr. Cai has one ambition: for his son, Feng, to make something of himself. With harsh discipline and relentless pressure, Mr. Cai succeeds in getting Feng ready to attend a U.S. college, but Feng needs a sponsor. When Mr. Cai meets a closeted American art student named Jude, they hatch a plan to benefit them both: get Feng to the US and help Jude come out to his conservative father. Their scheme will expose the fault lines in both Chinese and American cultures-father-son relationships, familial expectations, gender and sexuality, social status and mobility.
About difficult and rewarding connections across generational and cultural divides, Yang Huang’s novel My Good Son is a captivating masterpiece centered around a father and son in post-Tiananmen Square China ... Earnest in its portrayal of complicated family bonds, My Good Son is a resonant novel set during a turbulent time in China, wherein families face the universal struggles of connection and commonality.
Yang Huang’s latest novel, My Good Son, is set in 1990 Yangzhou. As one may infer from the title, the story tells of a relationship between parents and their son. Yet Huang juxtaposes Feng’s story with another contentious family drama: an American student named Jude and his father and step-mother back in Texas ... My Good Son moves along at a crisp pace and the author’s simple style and tone match the period in which she has set the story, a period in which China and the United States were not as entwined as they are now. Huang’s story shows on a human scale the interdependence of Chinese and Americans, a relationship that has grown in many ways since the 1990s. Despite all the current political talk about the US and China decoupling from these connections, the two countries, like the characters in Huang’s story, are reliant upon one another and are here to stay.
Huang’s latest explores the generational push-pull of family life in post-Tiananmen China ... The story moves quickly, rendered in straightforward prose. While occasionally flat, the deliberate plainness of the writing reflects Mr. Cai’s no-nonsense mentality and his willingness to articulate harsh truths ... the novel contains other dramatic threads [...] At times, these threads compete [...] the novel’s initial dramatic engine, ultimately feels rushed and underutilized.