Chinese Fish is a family saga in miniature, spanning three generations, from the grandparents in Hong Kong to the four brothers and their wives and children settled in Aotearoa New Zealand. The story is told from Cherry's perspective, the oldest of the four children of Ping, long-suffering wife to the third son Stan. They run a fish and chip shop until a stroke disables her husband, and Ping and her children have to find other ways to support themselves. Cherry struggles with the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings - especially the rage-prone meat-cleaver-wielding Baby Joseph. And Grandmother, relocated from Hong Kong against her will, finds herself bewildered by her grandchildren: a brood of defiantly monolingual aliens.
Narrated in multiple voices, including archival fragments and scholarly interjections, Chinese Fish takes place in the overwhelmingly white monocultural world of Aotearoa New Zealand from the 1960s to the 1980s. It offers a glimpse into the lives of women and girls in a community that has historically been characterised as both a 'yellow peril' menace and an exotic 'model minority'.
'a major poetic work of feminist, so-called 'minority' writing, its originality and brilliance more than earning its space alongside such works as Kathleen Fallon's Working Hot, Gloria Anzalda's Borderlands, and Alison Whittakers's BlakWork.' - Marion May Campbell
'As visually provocative as it is poetic, Chinese Fish portrays the fractured, multilayered, imperiled body of the immigrant story in a stunning work of genre-bending prose poetry. Yee has given the Chin family a literary resting place as complex and as searing as the New Zealand in which they survived.' - Juli Min
'an unflinchingly honest look at life behind closed doors, where resentment simmers, generations clash, and individual dreams are set aside for the interests of family.' - Chris Tse, New Zealand Poet Laureate