Lois-Ann Yamanaka was born on September 7, 1961 in Ho'olchua, Molokai, Hawaii. She is the daughter of a taxidermist from Kaua'i, Harry, and a school teacher from Kona, Jean. Yamanaka is best known for her novel published in 1997, Blu's Hanging, which Mika Tanner describes as “a brutally frank portrayal of three Japanese American children on the island of Molokai as they struggle with their mother's death.” As soon as the book appeared in bookstores, readers and critics pointed out the book's racist descriptions of Filipino Americans. It was nominated for the Association for Asian American Studies' (AAAS) National Fiction Award in the summer of 1998, and Yamanaka's students of Filipino origin received the award as the author's representatives. However, because of the novel's depiction of a Filipino American as sexually deviant, the award was rescinded the day after the award ceremony, and nearly all of the board members resigned from their positions. Regarding the characterization of Uncle Paulo, Yamanaka tells Caroline Wright in an interview that she drew that particular character from her most frightening girlhood experience in a small town on the Big Island when her classmates were being raped: “They were being picked up, one by one, on their way home from school, on their way home from the movies…. And it so happened to be…he was a Filipino young man, he had just graduated from high school.” The AAAS's decision caused controversy among Asian American writers, such as Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lawson Fusao Inada, Frank Chin, and Shawn Wong, who argued that the AAAS's decision was unconstitutional: it went against freedom of speech and artistic creativity. Critics who support Yamanaka, like Stephanie Green, point out the fact that
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Asian American Short Story Writers: An A-to-Z Guide. Contributors: Guiyou Huang - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 317.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.