by Helen Zia
Farrar Straus & Giroux. 2001, 368 pp.
"Frustrated by the relative invisibility of Asians in U.S. history and culture, Zia, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, details the diverse cultural backgrounds of Asians in America. She notes the historical cycles that have seen Americans alternately embracing and repudiating Asians. Zia recounts the immigration of her own parents, their marriage, and their attempts to make themselves into Americans, efforts that were complicated when Zia came of age during the social and racial upheaval of the 1960s. ...Zia sees the convergence of growth in Asian populations, the diversity of that population, and an incipient Asian American movement that may initiate increased political power and social influence in the U.S." -- Vanessa Bush, Booklist.
by Irene Kai
Silver Light Publications. 2003, 375 pp.
"A journey back in time: this is the gripping tale of four generations of Chinese women who live and die under the restrictions of their culture. Except for one: the author. Read her story of growing up in Hong Kong and her transition to New York City where she struggled to meld the American dream with her ethnic background. Finally, at age 50, she dares to move into the present and understand the true nature of dreams and what it means to live. A deeply inspiring tale of a woman claiming her power." --book info
by Claire S. Chow
Plume. 1999. 302 pp.
"Integrating ethnic identity with mainstream American culture is a complex task. In Leaving Deep Water, Claire S. Chow deftly explores the many ways that women of Asian descent have forged a place for themselves in modern society. Drawing from the personal narratives of dozens of women from China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, Chow analyzes such common themes as coming of age, parental expectations, marriage and divorce, career experiences, family relationships, and aging. These intimate reflections are deeply moving, the voices unique, and the stories eye-opening, bringing new perspectives to the multicultural experience."
by Lisa See
Vintage Books. 1996, 394 pp.
"When she was a girl, Lisa See spent summers in the cool, dark recesses of her family's antiques store in Los Angeles's Chinatown. There, her grand-mother and great-aunt told her intriguing, colorful stories about their family's past - stories of missionaries, concubines, tong wars, glamorous nightclubs, and the determined struggle to triumph over racist laws and discrimination. They spoke of how Lisa's great-great-grandfather emigrated from his Chinese village to the United States; how his son followed him, married a Caucasian woman, and despite great odds, went on to become one of the most prominent Chinese on "Gold Mountain" (the Chinese name for the United States). As an adult, See spent five years collecting the details of her family's remarkable history. She interviewed nearly one hundred relatives - both Chinese and Caucasian, rich and poor - and pored over documents at the National Archives, the immigration office, and in countless attics, basements, and closets for the intimate nuances of her ancestors' lives." --publisher
by Tung Pok Chin, Winifred C. Chin (Contrib), K. Scott Wong (Intro)
Temple University Press. 2000, 208 pp.
"Paper Son gives us a rare, first-hand account of living as a Chinese American under false pretenses during the exclusion era, roughly 1882-1943. Tung Pok Chin bought documents that falsely identified him as the son of a Chinese American, allowing him to live and work in the U.S. or Gold Mountain. Most Chinese Americans worked as hand-launderers and in restaurants, and the conditions that Chin details are similar to those in other immigrant stories: long work days, unsafe and even fatal working conditions, cramped and squalid living quarters. But Chin's memoir also relays the tension and fear the Chinese American community felt during the McCarthy era, as many were questioned unlawfully by the FBI. Harassment and illegal searches were commonplace. But Chin weathered the hardships, arriving in 1934 at the age of 19 and staying until his death in 1988. He mastered English, became a sermon interpreter at the True Light Lutheran Church in New York, published poetry and essays in Chinese newspapers, and raised a family. A moving story of one person's desire for knowledge, peace, and security." --Booklist, Michelle Kaske
by Ben Fong-Torres
Plume. 1995, 272 pp.
"A tender, sometimes funny memoir by a son of Chinese immigrants who became a writer and Rolling Stone editor.... Growing up in Oakland's Chinatown in the 1950s, the author and his siblings worked in the family restaurant (hence the title) and were sent to learn Chinese culture after school, ``but my heart was elsewhere.'' Mad magazine and Elvis Americanized him, and he became a high school writer and stage cut-up. ...Though Fong-Torres tells a few anecdotes about the likes of Janis Joplin and Ray Charles, he mostly skates over his rock experiences. Rather, he recounts the tragedy of older brother Barry, a youth worker killed in a 1972 Chinatown gang war, and his own effort to grow close to his reticent parents, interviewing them before his 1982 trip to China to work on a documentary. Fong-Torres concludes that his parents' Chinese ways actually produced hard-working, decent children. An enjoyable, thought-provoking tale of family ties and cultural identity, but rock 'n' roll fans may be frustrated by the author's emphases." --Kirkus Reviews
by Ronald Takaki
Back Bay Books. revised 1998, 640 pp.
"In a blend of narrative history, personal recollection, and oral testimony, Ronald Takaki presents a sweeping history of Asian Americans. He writes of the Chinese who laid tracks for the transcontinental railroad, of plantation laborers in the canefields of Hawaii, of "picture brides" marrying strangers in the hope of becoming part of the American dream. He tells stories of Japanese Americans behind the barbed wire of U.S. internment camps during World War II, Hmong refugees tragically unable to adjust to Wisconsin's alien climate and culture, and Asian-American students stigmatized by the stereotype of the "model minority." This powerful and moving work, now updated with a new preface and new closing chapter, has resonance for all Americans, who together make up a nation of immigrants from other shores."
by Peter Hall
Free Press. 1998, 320 pp.
"There are just too many friends of friends and cousins back in China for the reader to connect with any one story. The overall feeling is one of frustration at characters who are never quite realized and a unique culture just beyond reach, depriving the narrative of the dynamism it deserves. ... Nevertheless, the history of the early Chinese immigrants emerges from the crowded pages: the widespread discrimination against these people who were denied the right to obtain citizenship and persecuted by the indigenous population. ... in the end, Hall's lack of narrative skill and his irritating use of the running present tense that ends up merging all eras deprives us of what should have been a wonderful and exotic tale." --Publishers Weekly
by Maxine Hong Kingston
Vintage. (reissue edition) 1989, 224 pp.
"The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California. Maxine Hong Kingston (China Men) distills the dire lessons of her mother's mesmerizing "talk-story" tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upward...." --Amazon.com
by William Wong
Temple University Press. 2001, 280 pp.
"Who are Asian Americans? Are they the remnants of the "yellow peril" portrayed in the media through stories on Asian street gangs, unscrupulous political fundraisers, and crafty nuclear spies? Or are they the "model minority" that the media present as consistently outranking European Americans in math scores and violin performances? In this funny, sobering, and always enlightening collection, journalist William Wong comments on these and other anomalies of the Asian American experience. From its opening tribute to the Oakland Chinatown of Wong's childhood to its closing tribute to Tiger Woods, Yellow Journalist portrays the many-sided legacies of exclusion and discrimination." -from publisher
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