Because I have been on a self-imposed vacay from this blog during the pandemic I have not had a chance to discuss a very exciting book that was published about 9 months ago. The book is Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture written by someone I am proud and honored to call my friend: Annelise Heinz.
Annelise Heinz is an assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon. Her work has been featured on NPR, and international Chinese television. Annelise has lived – and played Mah Jongg! – in the United States and Southwestern China.
This wonderfully researched and beautifully written book tells the story of how our beloved game brought together separate ethnic communities in our nation thus giving all of us the first history of our beloved game in American culture along with its influence and meaning on all of us.
From Amazon: “Click-click-click. The sound of mahjong tiles connects American expatriates in Shanghai, Jazz Age white Americans, urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans in wartime, Jewish American suburban mothers, and Air Force officers’ wives in the postwar era…
…Annelise Heinz narrates the history of this game to show how it has created a variety of meanings, among them American modernity, Chinese American heritage, and Jewish American women’s culture. As it traveled from China to the United States and caught on with Hollywood starlets, high society, middle-class housewives, and immigrants alike, mahjong became a quintessentially American game. Heinz also reveals the ways in which women leveraged a game to gain access to respectable leisure. The result was the forging of friendships that lasted decades and the creation of organizations that raised funds for war effort and philanthropy. No other game has signified both belonging and standing apart in American culture.”
I am making an assumption that if you are a reader of this blog you must have at the very least some kind of interest in or attraction to the game of Mah Jongg (a very American way of spelling the game). If that is the case, run to your local bookstore, or Amazon, or your local library and get a copy of Annelise’s fabulous book. This is a must-have book for anyone with even a mild interest in the game!