A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts
According to Chinese tradition, those who die hungry or unjustly come back to haunt the living. Some are appeased with food, but not all ghosts are successfully mollified. In this chilling collection of stories, Ying Chang Compestine takes readers on an exhilarating journey through time and across different parts of China. Hungry ghosts have prevailed- from the building of the Great Wall in 200 B.C.E. to the modern day of iPods- and continue to torment those who wronged them. At once a window into the history and culture of China and an ode to Chinese cuisine, this assortment of frightening tales- complete with historical notes and savory recipes- will both scare and satiate.
Praise for A Banquet For Hungry Ghosts
“…gruesome but delightful…laced with beautiful (as well as lurid) images… difficult to shake.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“…chilling tales honoring Chinese food and ghost lore.”
“…will whet the appetites of …of ghost gourmet with a sophisticated palate.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“…offers up enough fright—and food—to keep kids returning for seconds.”
— Horn Book Review
— School Library Journal
“Ghost Stories with a Chinese Twist”
— The San Francisco Chronicle
Awards & Accolades
Children's Literature Assembly
Cooking A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts
After reading A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, students and I talked about writing while cooking their favorite recipes from the book!
Students from Singapore American International School cook their favorite recipes from A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts.
Cooking with Martin Yan
Watch me cook a recipe based on A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts with world-renowned chef Martin Yan on Crystal Cruise.
Why I Wrote "Banquet"
Blog posts originally published on Tor.com
On Becoming a Hungry Ghost
In Chinese folklore, hungry ghosts devour everything they can find and are never satisfied. We may scoff at their appalling lack of self control. Yet if we look around, how many of us have become entwined in the same fate?
Ghosts to My Rescue
While I was writing A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, I frequently wondered if at some time every child has fantasized about having a powerful ghost come to their aid. The brightest light in my childhood was torn from me when, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, my father was imprisoned for the “crime” of being a Western-trained surgeon. His act of loyalty, choosing to stay and help build a new China, was met with punishment. I was categorized as bourgeois, and attacked by working-class children at school.
In my debut novel, Revolution is not a Dinner Party, there is a scene where Ling, the main character, watches her father burn the family’s books and photos. This actually occurred in my childhood. My father, a prestigious surgeon trained by American missionaries, destroyed all his beloved books to protect our family from the zealous Red Guard. Yet he continued my education in secret, which included English lessons, a dangerous violation. He instilled in me a love for books and a yearning for freedom. During the Cultural Revolution, the only books we were allowed to read were Mao’s teaching and government-approved propaganda that praised the Communist philosophy. Everything else was banned and burned.
Pretending to Be a Teacher
As a young girl living under the Communist system in China, nothing was more thrilling for me than breaking government rules and getting away with it. I traded ration tickets at the black market, and bought meat and eggs from the “back door,” where Communist Party members obtained their fine food without being inconvenienced by ration tickets or long queues.
A Bird Out of the Cage
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