Asian American Short Story Writers: An A-to-Z Guide

By Guiyou Huang | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION: THE ASIAN AMERICAN SHORT STORY—THE CASES OF SUI SIN FAR, YAMAMOTO, AND PENARANDA

Guiyou Huang

The Asian American short story has not achieved the level of notoriety that the Asian American novel or autobiography has garnered so far. Yet, since Sui Sin Far's publication of her first story, “The Gambler, in 1896 (Ling, “Creating One's Self” 306), and notably since World War II, there has emerged a group of devoted Asian American short-fiction writers. In this introduction I will consider six short stories by three authors from three different time periods of the twentieth century—Sui Sin Far at the turn of the century, Hisaye Yamamoto in the middle of the century, and Oscar Peñaranda toward the end of the century—to survey the thematic scope and historical breadth of the evolution of the Asian American short story over the span of roughly a century. These writers, diverse as they are in gender, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, and the eras they lived in, all explore the fate and destiny of individuals in relation to issues of race, gender, and identity politics. In their characters' struggles to make sense of their ethnic life and identities, the role of the family often figures prominently, both as a metaphorical and literal anchor of the individual's body and soul, and as a site of contest about the racialization of relationships.

The Asian American writer attempts to create a voice that articulates Asian American experience. The protean expressions of their writing incorporate self-perceptions of Asian Americans. These self-perceptions, inscribed in lan-

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