Chinatown Inside Out (1936)

       Many accounts of Chinatown(s) I've read have been written by 'outsiders' who dwell on "oriental" aspects to emphasize its exotic and foreign features.  I recently discovered a fascinating "insider"perspective published in 1936 by a somewhat "mysterious" Leong Gor Yun. The noted historian, Sucheng Chan, asserts, without any documentation, that no one knows for sure if the author was a man or woman, Chinese or non-Chinese, and that the name is actually a pseudonym that can be translated into Cantonese as "two persons."
       It is, of course, just the views of one (or two) persons. Nonetheless, I found it to be a revealing discussion of what goes on behind-the-storefronts of Chinatown written in an authoritative, but breezy and sometimes flippant style.

       And, guess what,  Chinatown Inside Out is available to read online for free on the website for HathiTrust Digital Library.


  1. John: Him Mark Lai apparently thought that Leong Gor Yun was a pseudonym for Y.K. Chu (Zhu Xia) editor of the Chinese Journal in New York.

    See http://books.google.com/books?id=k2NSOq-1jyoC&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=%22leong+gor+yun%22+%22zhu+xia%22&source=bl&ots=z0kzrCdxKT&sig=ZC2izWe1OPaQ2RodmRKSfftUHI4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tiBoUsqLPPP94APczIFg&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22leong%20gor%20yun%22%20%22zhu%20xia%22&f=false, note at bottom.

    Renqiu Yu discusses him at some length in To Save China, To Save Ourselves: The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York (pages 44-5, 67 note on page 214).


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