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The Emma Press


Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai

Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai


Tiny Moons is a food memoir by Nina Mingya Powles.

“We must have been fourteen or fifteen, eating burgers at our favourite expat American diner in Shanghai, licking salt and ketchup off our fingers. We were best friends: two half-Chinese girls, one with hair darker than the other, one a little taller, both with our nails painted black. An older white man came up close to our table. ‘You two must be hungry girls,’ he said, raising an eye-brow and walking on. We stared after him, mouthed What the fuck. Then we looked at each other and started to laugh because we didn’t know what he meant exactly, only that it was true.”

Page count: 96

Publication date: 27th February 2020

Paperback ISBN 978-1-912915-34-7

GTIN: N/A SKU: 9781912915347 Categories: , , Tags: , ,

Nina Mingya Powles

Nina Mingya Powles is a poet and zinemaker of mixed Malaysian-Chinese heritage, born in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the author of poetry collections field notes on a downpour (If a Leaf Falls, 2018) and Luminescent (Seraph Press, 2017). She was co-winner of the 2018 Women Poets’ Prize and in 2019 won the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing. She is poetry co-editor of The Shanghai Literary Review and the founding editor of Bitter Melon 苦瓜. Her first poetry collection, Magnolia, 木蘭, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2020. She is currently working on a book of lyric essays. She lives in London.


Tiny Moons is a collection of essays about food and belonging. Nina Mingya Powles journeys between Wellington, Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai, tracing the constants in her life: eating and cooking, and the dishes that have come to define her. Through childhood snacks, family feasts, Shanghai street food and student dinners, she attempts to find a way back towards her Chinese-Malaysian heritage.

‘Meditative reflections on family, solitude, and belonging, intertwined with mouthwatering descriptions of noodles, dumplings, and sesame pancakes.’ Book Riot

‘This small-press gem is perfect for devouring in one sitting.’ Book Riot

‘Funny, compact and beautifully written.’ Simon Winder, New Statesman

‘My favourite books of the year are those I thrust into the hands of friends as soon as I finished reading them: the poet Nina Mingya Powles’s delightful essay collection Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai, encouraged a trip to Chinatown to try boluo bao or “pineapple buns” at the first opportunity.’ Ellen Peirson-Hagger, New Statesman

‘Throughout Tiny Moons the past mingles with the present, tempting the reader with the aromas, tastes and textures of the many dishes and snacks that Powles writes about so exquisitely and tenderly.’ Chris Tse, Pantograph Punch

‘Enjoy Tiny Moons for Powles’ tales of eating sticky, savoury buns and sizzling ginger & garlicky pork dumplings; for the sense of escape to an unknown city while we’re so rooted at home; or for the lyrical beauty of her prose.’ Julie Vuong, oh mag

‘Intelligent, poetic and entertaining, Tiny Moons is at once an intimate, personal account of Chinese food that will make you crave dumplings and noodles, as well as a profound contemplation on the notions of cultural hybridity, emotional landscapes and belonging.’ Jennifer Wong, Cha Journal

‘On the face of it, food is the focus. There are delicious anecdotes of eating pisang goreng (banana fritters) in Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu, mouthwatering descriptions of shengjianbao (pan-fried pork buns) in Shanghai and endlessly relatable stories about attempting to recreate dumplings in Wellington, NZ, without quite the right ingredients. But woven into the backdrop of each dish are musings on identity set in different parts of the world. There are morsels on being a woman, on being mixed race, and on not being from one place or another.’ Qin Xie, The Independent

‘Powles is an excellent writer, and I was struck throughout by the sensuality and opulence of her highly evocative prose. […] Tiny Moons is a tiny work of art, one to really savour.’ Kirsty, The Literary Sisters

‘Tastes, smells, the preparation of food, the colours of fruit, plants and the sky at the given time of year are all meticulously rendered with great eloquence. Although I have never been to Shanghai and have not tried many of the dishes described, reading it felt like I was there, as if I too were making my leisurely way from one street food stall to the next.’ Anna von Rath (translated by Lucy Gasser), poco.lit.

Additional information

Dimensions 12.9 × 19.8 cm

Print, eBook

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