With all the hype centered around Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin, 2011), I jumped at the chance to hear her live last week.
The Chicago Tribune sponsored the event, featuring a live interview moderated by Trib literary critic Elizabeth Taylor (and author of American Pharaoh: Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation).
Amy Chua explained that she intended to write her memoir along the lines of David Sedaris.
She truly believed in the way her parents raised her (strict but nurturing), yet she found out the hard way that this style didn’t work for everyone.
She began writing her book the night her daughter blew up at her in public.
During questions, one woman thanked Chua for writing about this type of traditional Chinese parenting. Now she felt her friends would understand her better.
Another woman asked Chua how she approached her oldest daughter’s college application process (Chua only skimmed Sophia’s essays and let her apply to the colleges of her choice; she’s been accepted, but that choice is still under wraps).
After the interview and questions concluded, we adjourned downstairs to a cocktail reception and book signing. The signing line snaked around rows of chairs where the overflow audience had just finished watching the interview on a large screen.
I met some friends there, including Chandrika, who guest blogged a review of Chua’s book a couple weeks ago. At the front of the line, Chandrika presented Chua with a card while I quickly revealed I’d been married to a man from mainland China. Chua’s eyes lit up and she laughed, then thanked Chandrika for the card and promised she’d open it after the event.
Before leaving, Chandrika and I spoke with moderator Elizabeth Taylor about the speaker and the event in general. Taylor wondered if Chua would have received so much attention–and criticism–had she been a man, a Tiger Father.
We all stood there for a moment and then nodded. Probably not.