The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

  • #26 on the New York Times Best Seller List
    and featured on The Colbert Report, Martha Stewart,, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose Tomorrow, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR stations coast to coast. Also selected for Borders Original Voices and Book Sense. Follow me on Twitter! Fan me on Facebook.

  • Book Musings

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    Breaking Amazon’s #100 barrier

    Saturday, March 8th, 2008

    Yes. I obsess about my Amazon ranking, like every new author does. It’s like watching a stock ticker, which updates every hour (if you are in the top 1,000?) and every day otherwise. (My dad obsesses too, once I told him there was something to watch. We are very goal-oriented people), Today, just now, The […]

    Preparing for The Colbert Report

    Saturday, March 8th, 2008

    Here is my explanation of what it’s like to prepare for The Colbert Report on The Huffington Post: Don’t try to be funny. That was the piece of advice that was repeatedly given to me when my friends first heard I was booked on The Colbert Report to talk about my book on Chinese food […]

    Airbrushing before a TV appearance

    Thursday, March 6th, 2008

    Make-up artist (holding a menacing metallic device): Have you ever been airbrushed? Me (looking at aforementioned device): Um, not to my knowledge. I thought airbrushing was something they do only after a photo is taken? Apparently not.

    A (brief) five star rating on Amazon?

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

    I checked Amazon today and was surprised to see that my book is already in stock though launch day is not for another two weeks. (But don’t buy it yet. It’s better if everyone buys in the same week). Even more surprising, I already have a five star rating (which with one review, means I […]

    You CAN judge a book by its cover. So what does mine say?

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles cover gets a shout out by designer Christopher Tobias on his Outerwearforbooks blog as part of his Non-fiction Cover Genius Awards, launched Feb. 14. As he puts it: Why do fiction books get all the glory? In my experience non-fiction is often more of a challenge to design than fiction. I […]

    How Chinese is All-American, excepted in a magazine that is all-American: Readers Digest

    Monday, February 11th, 2008

    So, my book is excerpted in Readers Digest’s March issue (who knew? they have a ciruclation of 10 million!). I also have a piece in Maxim on the origins of General Tso’s chicken this month and another essay in Food and Wine on how I grew up not understanding how to use the oven. That […]

    NPR: Twelve, Betting on a Dozen Books (now with transcript)

    Monday, February 4th, 2008

    NPR has an 8-minute piece on Twelve’s first year in publishing, focusing on Jonathan Karp’s serial monogamy for twelve books a year. Little tidbits. Out of every every 10 hardcover books, 7 fail financially, 2 break even, one becomes a hit. It’s a hit driven business. It’s like corporate legalized gambling. Anyway, Twelve has a different […]

    Washington Synagogue, March 17, with Politics and Prose

    Thursday, January 31st, 2008

    The event, scheduled for March 17, 2008 (a Monday), at a local synagogue is being held in conjunction with Politics and Prose, one of the venerable independent book stores. I’m all about the synagogues.

    The Books are Here!

    Thursday, January 31st, 2008

    I will post photos later. I was running out of the building so only caught a glimpse of the books in the package. The orange cover glows slightly — almost fluorescent.

    Read the The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

    Thursday, January 24th, 2008

      This is a plug, but a relevant one. Yesterday I went to a reading/presentation by Eric Weiner, the NPR resporter and author of Geography of Bliss, at the Rubin Museum in New York City. The Geography of Bliss is one of my favorite books of the last year. I was lucky to read an […]

    Soy sauce packet, writ large

    Thursday, January 24th, 2008

    This is just a random amusing shot of the cover of my book next to the Chinese takeout that we had for the the media luncheon last week. It’s very large and very orange. At this point I have talked about Chinese food in Boston, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor and New […]

    So did you like my book? A strangely satisfying compliment.

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

    From my friend Tim Layman, about my book: “It’s not that like I was expecting not to like it. But I was surprised how much I did.” Have had other double-edged compliments like that. From Seth: “I’m not even interested in Chinese food! But I liked your book.” Or this e-mail from my good friend […]

    Updated tour sked: Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

    I just got my updated book tour list for March for Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. I will add them to Appearances page in a bit. We are still trying to nail down DC. Possibly a joint synagogue-bookstore event.

    Stressful day. Multimedia. Bullet points. Rebookings.

    Monday, January 14th, 2008

    Stressful day running around putting finishing touches on a Chinese food Dining story for this Wednesday that looks like it should be pretty good — involves a lot of multimedia (yay for Sylvia and Patrick, who put it all together, and Josephine, for making the video happen on such short notice). Also tomorrow, a big […]

    What it looks like 7 weeks before a book comes out…

    Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

    So seven weeks out from the book’s pub date (March 3), it’s all about waiting for the media stuff to gel, which is very unstable and unpredictable. Like just today, I was booked by a television show, dropped by a radio show, and picked up by another radio show. Also, there is all these politics […]

    March 12 Reading at Upper West Side Barnes & Noble on W. 82nd Street

    Friday, January 4th, 2008

    I just got booked for a reading, along with Eric Weiner (author of the awesome Geography of Bliss) for March 12, 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble store #1979 Upper West Side  at 2289 Broadway @ 82nd St. (I have a running list of appearances) During high school, I worked at that very Barnes & […]

    Happy two-oh-oh-eight!

    Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

    It’s 2008. For New Year’s I went to my friends’ apartment where one of my closest friends and his partner cooked lovely food they had learned from a cooking class: garlic shrimp, gingerbread cake, sherry mushrooms, lamb and beef and almond meatballs. (So much progress from the Rice-a-roni style boiled frozen veggies and breaded fish […]

    Who’s Here? Who’s Queer? Who loves books about Chinese food?

    Saturday, December 29th, 2007

    So I went to a party last night at the home of a high school/college friend who is gay. It was basically me, four straight women, and 40 gay men (plus like one random straight guy who had been brought along without advance warning on what he would encounter. The Evite was titled “Who’s Here? […]

    Fortune Cookies (along with Spitzer and Ahmadinejad) in the New York Sun’s office pool?

    Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

    From the New York Sun’s editorial page today, an office pool for 2008: 2. The surprise breakout nonfiction bestseller of the year will be a) Natan Sharansky’s “Defending Identity” b) Jonathan Mahler’s “Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: A Historic Challenge to the President” c) Steven Waldman‘s “Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in […]

    Available in white in five different sizes.

    Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

    My friend, Tim Layman, sent me an e-mail with the subject line “” and the body “Why can you buy ‘I Love Jennifer 8. Lee’ t-shirts from there?” I was like, what are you talking about? He wrote back: “went on Amazon to look up your book but I searched for “Jennifer 8 Lee” instead […]

    Tasty, Charming, Breezy, Likeable. Me? No, the book. (Kidding) From Kirkus Reviews

    Thursday, December 20th, 2007

    Cary Goldstein (to reiterate, one of the best publicists in the business) just sent me a congrats for the review from Kirkus Reviews. Yay. (The food-related analogies seem to be irresistible to these writers) Lee, Jennifer 8. THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food A quest. With eggrolls. Debut author Lee, […]

    My galley, still on world tour, in Istanbul

    Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

    My galleys continue their world tour, I guess. This is in front of the Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. I guess it goes to say that anyone who wants to send me a picture of my book in a weird place, please send it in.

    My first review: Starred, from Publishers Weekly

    Thursday, November 29th, 2007

    My agent, Larry Weissman, sent me my review in Publishers Weekly (scroll 1/3 of the way down), which is out today : * The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food Jennifer 8. Lee. Hachette/Twelve, $24.99 (308p) ISBN 978-0-446-58007-6 Readers will take an unexpected and entertaining journey—through culinary, social and cultural history—in […]

    My first review is out next Monday in Publishers Weekly

    Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

    Which is weird to think — the idea of being formally reviewed. Publishers Weekly  is one of the big four industry trade publications. The others are Kirkus, Library Journal and Booklist.  PW did ask for the image of the orange book cover because they might feature it on their table of contents, which Cary assures […]

    Ted Kennedy’s memoir goes to Twelve for a reported $8 million

    Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

    After a six-day auction between nine publishers,  Twelve landed Ted Kennedy’s memoir for a reported $8+ million “people close to the negotiations said.” That’s an impressive coup for Jon Karp and Twelve. ($8 million is the ballpark amount for what Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair got for their autobiographies). The book, tentatively scheduled to come […]

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