Tiger Tail Soup, tells the story of a Chinese woman struggling to survive and protect her family during the Japanese invasion of 1938 and the continuing war that merged into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The narrator, An Lee, is a young wife and mother. As the novel opens, she’s pregnant and worried about her husband who hasn’t returned from his business trip. Stepping out onto the balcony, she hears bombs exploding in the distance. When her husband finally appears, he has exchanged his suit and tie for the uniform of a Chinese soldier.
During the next seven years An Lee sees her husband again only twice. Left alone, it’s up to her to protect their children, her mother, and her mother-in-law. For a few years their island, though surrounded by enemy forces, is spared from a full-scale invasion because of its status as an international treaty port. But on December 7, 1941, the enemy launches a coordinated attack on Pearl Harbor and all the international enclaves in China. In a matter of minutes, the island of Kulangsu becomes occupied territory, and life for the family enters a new, more challenging phase.