Tricksters and Cosmopolitans: Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Asian American Literary Production

Tricksters and Cosmopolitans: Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Asian American Literary Production

Tricksters and Cosmopolitans: Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Asian American Literary Production

Tricksters and Cosmopolitans: Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Asian American Literary Production

Synopsis

Tricksters and Cosmopolitans is the first sustained exploration into the history of cross-cultural collaborations between Asian American writers and their non–Asian American editors and publishers. The volume focuses on the literary production of the cosmopolitan subject, featuring the writers Sui Sin Far, Jessica Hagedorn, Karen Tei Yamashita, Monique Truong, and Min Jin Lee. The newly imagined cosmopolitan subject that emerges from their works dramatically reconfigured Asian American female subjectivity in metropolitan space with a kind of fluidity and ease never before seen. But as Rei Magosaki shows, these narratives also invariably expose the problematic side of this figure, which also serves to perpetuate exploitative structures of Western imperialism and its legacies in late capitalism. Arguing that the actual establishment of such a critical standpoint on imperialism and globalization required the expansive and internationalist vision of editors who supported, cultivated, and promoted these works, Tricksters and Cosmopolitans reveals the negotiations between these authors and their publishers and between the shared investment in both politics and aesthetics that influenced the narrative structure of key works in the Asian American literary canon.

Excerpt

This book is about the production of the Asian cosmopolitan subject, dreamed into being by Asian American writers as it often is, through narrative fiction in the United States. The focus is not so much on the writers who are interested in celebrating this socially privileged figure, but on those who create a new critical standpoint from a transnational perspective through this figure. Placed front and center in the limelight, the cosmopolitan subject from Asia, equipped with transcendent transnational mobility and cultural capital, can easily obscure the more familiar but troubling figure of the Asian American working-class immigrant. Relegated to the margins of the narrative or banished to the realm of the past, irrelevance, and silence, the displaced working-class subject joins the ranks of other unprotected lives around the globe, whose lives are crushed by legacies of classic imperialisms in the earlier decades of the twentieth century and vulnerable to the exploitative forces of late capitalism. The Asian cosmopolitan subject is a convenient figure that can absolve the collective national consciousness of guilt involved in the shaping of conflicted histories that awaited its working-class Asian immigrants upon arrival in the United States. The figure can overwrite, for instance, the long struggles that the working-class immigrant communities endured to establish such fundamental human rights as citizenship. It can also distract attention from the history of discriminatory violence inflicted upon these communities, represented in extreme by incidents of mass detainment of the kind that took place on Angel Island and the internment camps nationwide during World War II. What . . .

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