• The 2008 One Book, One Firm Selection: Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

Modeled after the “one book one community” programs around the country, Warner Norcross & Judd has selected a single book that we want to encourage the entire firm to read during the summer of 2008.  We call the program “One Book, One Firm.”  Our One Book, One Firm Selection Committee reviewed a number of books relating to diversity – both fiction and nonfiction – that were recommended by the firm’s attorneys and staff.


The 2008 One Book, One Firm Selection is Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen (pronounced “bit min new-`win”), whose family settled in Grand Rapids after fleeing Vietnam in 1975, as Saigon fell to the Communist north.  Nguyen’s memoir tells the story of her growing up in Grand Rapids and of her longing to fit in to American culture.  In a postscript, the author describes the book as “an homage to childhood, suburbia, and all the bad food, fashion, music, and hair of the deep 1980s.  It is also about an immigrant’s dilemma to blend in or remain apart.” 

Nguyen develops a passion for American food, preferring Pringles and Tollhouse cookies to the traditional spring rolls and fried shrimp cakes of her Vietnamese grandmother.   She explains on her homepage:

As a girl, my favorite books were the ones that had good food scenes —The Boxcar Children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Little House on the Prairie books. Here, food meant prosperity and possibility, longing and escape. Wanting to eat what these characters ate meant wanting to live in their worlds — and I wanted to be anywhere else, pretty much, besides where I was, which was Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the heart of the 1980s.

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner stood out to our One Book, One Firm Selection Committee for a couple of reasons.  First, it takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the 1980s, which will help many of us connect to the experiences that Nguyen recounts.  Nguyen’s descriptions of an immigrant family seeking to find its way in West Michigan also speaks to the themes of the Newcomers exhibit that was the subject of an earlier presentation to the firm and tour.

We hope that you will finish the book by August 1.  We hope to have a culminating event for One Book, One Firm during the first full week of August.  Along the way, we will plan some other opportunities to discuss the book.  Details will follow later.