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Year of the Dragon
A Daughter's Unfinished Memoir
by Debbie Chinn
$19.99, Softcover, 8.5x11 inches
94 pages, with 35 images to color
Published in January, 2024
by Strange Fate Publishing
San Francisco, California
Book design and production
by Lucky Valley Press
Pacific Grove, California
Distributed worldwide by Ingram
Returnable by retailers
To contact the author, please visit: www.debbiechinn.com
Year of the Dragon
A Colorable Graphic Memoir
Debbie Chinn's first book, Dancing in Their Light: A Daughter's Unfinished Memoir, (Strange Fate Publishing, 2022) encapsulated her life as a 'restaurant kid, ' growing up in her family's prominent New York restaurant and Polynesian nightclub, Mah Jong Restaurant, during the 1960s and 70s.
Debbie wondered how she might tell the story of "Dancing in Their Light" in an educational and pictorial way to depict the arc of her family stories and of the defining bicultural moments in U.S. and Chinese civic relationships, in which her family of immigrants played a significant part.
At the same time, Debbie has long been intrigued by the power of art therapy. Music, theatre, and dance have been sources of balm for her, as she describes in "Dancing in Their Light." Moreover, a constant through line in her career as a successful arts CEO has been developing programs that connect art with emotional recalibration.
"Year of the Dragon" is the first in a series of "colorable graphic memoirs" based on the themes and stories of "Dancing in Their Light." It is an homage to Chinese New Year, representing new beginnings.
The series features the extraordinary talents of author and artist Ginna BB Gordon, editor of Debbie's first book, "Dancing in Their Light." A multitalented woman, Ginna is an artist at the core, and has painstakingly rendered the exquisite colorable illustrations in this book by hand, beautifully capturing the essence of Debbie's family's story.
The creators of this volume hope it serves as a fun, educational, and intergenerational activity to inspire you to learn more about the cultures and norms of Chinese New Year, and to give you an insight into how Debbie's family enterprise, Mah Jong Restaurant, grew to become one of the most popular culinary destinations during the gilded age of dining, 1960-1980.
The proud daughter of Chinese immigrants, Debbie Chinn was born and raised on Long Island, New York. While other children participated in sleep-overs, summer camps, and sports activities, Debbie's childhood was spent at The House of Mah Jong, her family's Chinese restaurant where she entered the workforce at the age of three. Her first job was selling cigarettes. By the age of six, her responsibilities expanded and she spent time on a bar stool inserting umbrellas into cherries and pineapple slices for an assortment of exotic drinks.
The family business grew in popularity and fame, and Mah Jong evolved into a Polynesian nightclub, a ubiquitous dining experiences in the 60s and 70s. As a teenager, Debbie became a regular in the show, performing at night while attending middle and high school by day.
In their quest to assimilate in the United States, her parents abided by the value of strong work ethics, fanatical hospitality, the importance of building and maintaining relationships, supporting organizations who do good work in our communities, and always taking care of others — a family ethos that is known today as philanthropy.
Inspired by her Mah Jong upbringing, Debbie established a distinguished 30 year career as an arts activist, non-profit consultant, and CEO — leading some of the country's most renowned cultural institutions and their programs. She has long championed equity and inclusion, and she has an insatiable appetite for forging bridges via the arts, humanities, and cultural heritage.
Debbie currently serves on a variety of non-profit boards providing advice on governance, finance, fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, artistic programming, and board/staff relations.
She lives in Northern California with her two cats, Kona and Leilani, surrounded by her collection of 100+ bottles of wine.
Note: Lucky Valley Press does not sell this book, nor do we profit in any way from its sales.
We showcase it on our website because it was fun to produce and we like the final result!