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Goong-Goong: From Tuscany to Shanghai

The Story of a Chinese Patriarch Through the Eyes of His Italian Daughter-in-Law

Friday, December 7, 2018
6:00 pm


Goong-Goong: From Tuscany to Shanghai
The Story of a Chinese Patriarch Through the Eyes of His Italian Daughter-in-Law

Author Patrizia Chen in conversation with Nancy Yao Maasbach (Museum of Chinese in America)

Goong-Goong is a remarkable book. Not exactly a memoir, or history, and not really even about its author, Patrizia Chen, who grew up with all the traditions of an Italian family. Goong-Goong is a journey of discovery about her in-laws’ family and their remarkable patriarch.

Marrying into a Chinese family, Patrizia was fascinated and puzzled by the myriad of photographs of old Shanghai; the elegant weddings, exclusive club-like settings, sumptuous homes, banquets, and expensive cars. Inquisitive, she fielded questions, began to collect information, and discovered that she had married into an extraordinarily influential and important Chinese family. Yet… no one knew about the stories. Only her father-in-law, shipping magnate C.Y. Chen (or Goong-Goong, as she always respectfully referred to him) was the key to unlocking the family history.

Though rebuffed at first; in the years to come, the one prickly relationship between inquisitive Patrizia and reserved Goong-Goong warmed to become one of profound joy and deep meaning. Patrizia knew that she had to write the story of this remarkable man and the family that took her in with open arms; about exotic traditions; about fascinating people, places, anecdotes and stories-the stuff of novels-that proved to be real once she began to study the history of the Chen family and the meeting of East and West. Chen shows how families may change but can still preserve their traditions.

Goong-Goong is a unique book which represents a fascinating cultural bridge between two civilizations and spanning two centuries.

Patrizia Chen was born in Livorno, Italy. A multi-lingual world traveler she has lived in Egypt, Japan, Argentina and New York City, where she raised her now-grown children. She is the author of Rosemary and Bitter Oranges: Growing Up in a Tuscan Kitchen and It Takes Two. She lives in New York and Italy.

Nancy Yao Maasbach is the President of the Museum of Chinese in America. As the President of MOCA, Nancy has the unique privilege of combining her experiences in managing organizations, promoting arts and culture as a bridge between peoples, and executing research focused on examining the role of Chinese Americans in U.S.-China relations. Prior to this position Nancy was the executive director of the Yale-China Association, one of the oldest non-profit organizations dedicated to building U.S.-China relations. At the Yale-China Association, Nancy led over 20 programs in the areas of education, health, and the arts. These programs were lauded as best-in-class and models for bilateral engagement.


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