Cover image for The barbarians are coming : a novel
The barbarians are coming : a novel
Louie, David Wong, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2000]

Physical Description:
372 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Marian Wood book."

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The Educated Mind offers a bold and revitalizing new vision for today's uncertain educational system. Kieran Egan reconceives education, taking into account how we learn. He proposes the use of particular "intellectual tools"--such as language or literacy--that shape how we make sense of the world. These mediating tools generate successive kinds of understanding: somatic, mythic, romantic, philosophical, and ironic. Egan's account concludes with practical proposals for how teaching and curriculum can be changed to reflect the way children learn.

"A carefully argued and readable book. . . . Egan proposes a radical change of approach for the whole process of education. . . . There is much in this book to interest and excite those who discuss, research or deliver education."--Ann Fullick, New Scientist

"A compelling vision for today's uncertain educational system."-- Library Journal

"Almost anyone involved at any level or in any part of the education system will find this a fascinating book to read."--Dr. Richard Fox, British Journal of Educational Psychology

"A fascinating and provocative study of cultural and linguistic history, and of how various kinds of understanding that can be distinguished in that history are recapitulated in the developing minds of children."--Jonty Driver, New York Times Book Review

Author Notes

David Wong Louie was born in Rockville Centre, New York on December 20, 1954. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Vassar College in 1977 and a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa in 1981. He taught writing at the University of Iowa, Vassar College, and colleges in the University of California system before settling at U.C.L.A. His short story collection, Pangs of Love, was published in 1991 and won awards from The Los Angeles Times and the literary journal Ploughshares for best first book. His novel, The Barbarians Are Coming, was published in 2000. He died of throat cancer on September 19, 2018 at the age of 63.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The author of a highly praised story collection, Pangs of Love, has now written an ambitious and appealing first novel, brilliant in its scathing insights. From his first sly pun, Louie's hapless narrator, Sterling Lung, wins the reader's rapt attention: "One day my Bliss is in Iowa, studying dentistry, gazing at the gums and decay of hog farmers and their kin." It is 1978, and 26-year-old Sterling, the bright American-born son of Chinese parents, has already disappointed his parents by choosing the Culinary Institute of America rather than medical school, and he's about to disappoint everyone else as well. His casual girlfriend Bliss wants more from their relationship; his parents want him to marry the Chinese picture-bride they have chosen for him; and his employers, the Waspy women of the Richfield Ladies' Club, want him to cook Chinese food, though his specialty is French cuisine. Although Sterling becomes deeply involved with Bliss, their relationship seems doomed from the beginning. And although Sterling learns to cook Chinese dishes to become a cable-TV chef, the best he can do is to parody a Chinese cook, calling himself the "Peeking Duck," and turning all his Ls to Rs as he speaks. At the heart of Sterling's failings is his troubled and distant relationship with his ailing father, Genius, who is devoted to the Chinese laundry he runs. Louie dazzlingly captures the bitter ironies of Asian-American life, but it is the scenes between father and son and, eventually, the scenes between Sterling and his sons, that expose the most complex realities of Chinese-American identity. To his parents' dismay, Sterling is Westernized to his roots--and yet, isn't that what they wanted? Though they expect him to cleave to his Chinese heritage, his parents chose "lean lives among the barbarians, so [Sterling] might enjoy penicillin and daily beef and be spared Mao and dreary collectivism, shared destiny, rationed rice, the communal butt-rag at the outhouse door." Louie's coruscating novel is full of astonishing writing, but the real delight is his wit and humor as he keeps plucking away the prickly petals of his characters' desires until he finds their hearts. Author tour. (Mar.) FYI: Louie's Pangs of Love received the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award and the Ploughshares First Fiction Book Award. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Louie's critically acclaimed first work, a story collection called Pangs of Love, garnered the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award in 1991. This follow-up, his debut novel, is the first-person narrative of 26-year-old Chinese American Sterling Lung, who happens to be trained as a French chef. Working at a Ladies' Club in Connecticut in 1978, Sterling finds himself confronting stereotypes and having difficulty being taken seriously as a French chef. As the youngest child and only son to carry on the Lung name, he must deal with being a disappointment to his parents, Genius and Zsa Zsa, for not becoming a doctor and for choosing to marry his pregnant Jewish girlfriend, Bliss Sass, instead of Yip Yuk Hing, the "picture bride" from Hong Kong whom his parents selected for him. With Louie's help, readers follow Sterling on a path toward maturity and responsibility as a husband, father, and son to his own ailing father. As a whole, Louie writes with wit, intelligence, sensitivity, and insight, presenting an incredible yet believable assortment of characters who are all tied together in one emotionally moving and satisfying story. Essential for Asian American fiction collections and most larger fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/99.]--Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.