Under Western Eyes; Personal Essays from Asian America

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9780385472395: Under Western Eyes; Personal Essays from Asian America

Well-known writers such as Amy Tan join up-and-coming talents including Chang-rae Lee to speak about their personal experiences as Asian Americans, covering such issues as racism, generational differences, learning English, and education. Original.

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From the Publisher:

Since the phenomenal success of The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston in 1977, Asian American autobiography has grown into an exciting literary genre, as shown by the acclaim David Mura's Turning Japanese has received. In Under Western Eyes, poet and essayist Garrett Hongo has gathered fifteen remarkable voices that explore the personal, political, and cultural challenges of being Asian American. Using personal experience as a way of addressing difficult social and political issues, these contributors look to their own lives to assess how assimilation, generational differences, racism, language, family, and stereotypes affect their identities as Americans. In "Mother Tongue," Amy Tan contrasts the Chinese language her mother used at home with the English language she was taught in school, revealing how she found her writing voice by honoring both tongues. In "The Winged Seed," poet Li-Young Lee writes of his dying father as he questions the nature of exile, shame, and loyalty. In all of these essays, forty percent of which have never been published to date, there is present the courage to examine what has been denied and the gift to articulate what must be revealed. The fifteen contributors range from the well known like Amy Tan and David Mura to emerging new voices like Chang-rae Lee and Debra Kang Dean. Under Western Eyes will feature photographs of all contributors, and as in The Open Boat, Garrett Hongo brilliantly illuminates the cultural context of the genre in his introduction.

From Publishers Weekly:

In a rather defensive and awkwardly written introduction, Hongo (Volcano) describes his criteria for inclusion in this collection about growing up Asian in the United States: "I tried to choose essays written against social silencing, but emerging from deep personal silences dedicated to reflecting upon moral, political, and identity issues." As it happens, most of the memoirs here center around family and language: Lillian Ho Wan ponders both the origins of her Western name and the ideogram for her mother's maiden name; Chang-Rae Lee recalls his mother's death from stomach cancer and her fear that he would forget how to speak Korean; Amy Tan remembers how she had to substitute for her mother on the phone due to her mother's broken English. Other highlights include Geraldine Kudaka's rich, emotional portrait of her love affair with a Latino radical; Nguyen Qui Duc's recollection of his return to Vietnam, where people assume he is Korean; and David Low's sweet accounting of his parents work running a restaurant and his own career as a photographer. There are several apt discussions of sexuality here, particularly David Mura's history of his addiction to pornography, but there is also one vulgar misstep: sometime art critic John Yau's mean-spirited recollection of how he and two painting partners ejaculated into a paint can and before painting a female client's walls?leaving behind a photograph of themselves in the act.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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