How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia

Dragonfruit Front Cover

What it’s like to be a Western woman living in the Asia? Trying to respect and learn the culture while still holding on to your dear values and ideas. No other book can better express the different stories we have than the newly published anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?: True Stories of Expat Women in Asia (affiliate link).

In the book 26 women from all over the world share their true stories in different countries in the East Asia. They are backpackers, expatriates, single women, mothers, wifes, all living in a new culture very different from their own. They feel joy, fear, love, hate, excitement, confusion, all the feelings in the spectrum while finding their selves and their lives in Asia.

I loved the book because it portraits such a rare peek into the lives of these twenty-six women. Even though many of them are living in different countries and situations than me, I could still see common themes and feelings bubbling up on the stories and in my life.

When reading I can totally smell the father-in-law’s dirty socks on Jocelyn Eikenburg‘s story of how she and her husband went to their honeymoon  – with her father-in-law! I could never imagine doing the same thing my self, so I have always admired how filial daughter-in-law Jocelyn is. While following their steps on the Yellow Mountain, the most moving part is where the father soothes Jocelyn who faces her fear of heights in a cable car.

At the moment Jocelyn is working on her own memoir, Red all over, that hopefully will be published soon. I can’t wait to read it!

If even the thought of those socks made me dizzy, I got tears on my eyes while reading several touching stories in the anthology. When Susan’s doctor tells her “Please know that in Chinese culture husbands might cheat, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love their wives” she blocks the devastating news from her mind, refusing to tell others what have happened. I remember the same kind of fear of letting others know, when my ex-boyfriend continuously treated me badly, ending up to cheating pretty much under my nose.

Susan Blumberg-Kason’s memoir, Good Chinese Wife (affiliate link), will be published on 29th of July and is now available for pre-orders. I think I can reveal that I was lucky to get a chance to review it as well and before my review comes out next month, I can just say the book is totally a must-read for all my readers!

The best thing about How Does One Dress To Buy Dragonfruit is the variety of stories and all the feelings it brings up while reading. In the editor’s foreword Shannon Young shares the questions we all have when moving abroad:

How can I be respectful of the rules of this new culture? When do I choose not to adhere to the norms of my adopted home? Should I assimilate? Should I be independent? Or accommodating? Where is the point of equilibrium for a modern woman navigating a new culture?

In one sentence, this anthology tell you how twenty-six brave women from different cultures answers these questions in their own lives when living in Asia.

If you haven’t already, get How Does One Dress To Buy Dragonfruit from Amazon and start reading the touching stories right away!

  • Jocelyn Eikenburg

    Sara, thank you so much for doing this review, and for the lovely mention of my essay! I also loved Susan’s essay very much — and am excited about next month when her book comes out! Looking forward to your review of her book.

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you Jocelyn for giving me the chance to review this book and Susan’s as well! I’ve enjoyed reading them both so much and will read Susan’s book again soon for the reviewing.

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  • Kaiser

    你会永远住在中国。建议你别思考那么多,反而成为个中国公民与尽可能快同化。

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    The-one-who-thinks-too-much is my middle name ;)

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  • Mélody

    Your article was so interesting, that I had to download the book immediately. Since then I’ve been reading it and it’s really fascinating, I enjoy it so much. Thank you for sharing your advices :-) Please continue so !

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I’m so happy to hear you like the book! :)

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