Each book on its own tells a part of the Asian American experience and together shed light on the complexities of the roles we play.
After spending seven years immersing myself in the creative Asian American community––think YouTubers, Crazy Rich Asians, even subtle asian traits––I’m pretty familiar with how the conversation about representation in media goes. It boils down to the lack of roles, the lack of opportunities to tell our own stories, and the stereotypes Asians in entertainment get pigeon holed into. Half a decade of listening to and discussing all that got tiring, so I initially avoided reading Charles Yu’s latest book. Turns out Interior Chinatown is less in conversation with Hollywood, and more alined with Cathy Park Hong’s book, Minor Feelings. Reading each tells different perspectives of the Asian American identity, and together unlock a sharp commentary of how that experience shapes us.
Continue reading Understanding the “Minor Feelings” of “Interior Chinatown”
I can’t quite describe this book, but I also can’t stop thinking about it.
I will take any chance to read about Anna May Wong, the Chinese American silent film actress, which was the immediate draw for me towards Amanda Lee Koe’s Delayed Rays of a Star. I excepted Koe’s debut to be the usual historical fiction novel: a linear, mostly true account of the lives and adventures of 1940s icons Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich, and Leni Riefenstahl. It was those things, but Delayed Rays of a Star really ended up feeling like more than that; it was a series of character studies and reflections on human nature, a book that I find myself thinking about months after I read it.
Continue reading An intricate, complex exploration of history in “Delayed Rays of a Star”
About a year ago, journalist and author Vanessa Hua reached out and asked me to write a review of her two books, the short story collection Deceit and Other Possibilities and then-newly published novel A River of Stars. Now nearly twelve months later, her novel just came out in paperback, my review got turned down by a number of outlets, and here I am. But I enjoyed her books, and after hearing her at a reading in Boston I wanted to make sure some form of a review made it into the world somewhere.
Continue reading Finding representation in Vanessa Hua’s books
Looking at Little Fires Everywhere, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, and The Leavers.
I always thought I had an understanding about adoption. Never questioned much, just accepted everything I was grateful for. After reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and The Leavers by Lisa Ko, I’ve started thinking about it again.
It hasn’t been easy, or particularly fun (I should probably talk to a professional about this, but blogging will suffice in the meantime.) I set out with the goal to compare the three, and while reading them back-to-back-to-back started to weigh on me, it’s been enlightening too. Reading them together put into words a lot of the feelings I didn’t realize I even felt. By the end, finishing with Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, I had a new clarity on the topic. But I never felt like any one of them told a complete story of adoption. Here, let me explain each one a little better.
Continue reading Apparently 2017 was the year of the Chinese adoption books
(Warning, spoilers ahead.)