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

By Guiyou Huang | Go to book overview

guage, are often put forward as a self-defining strategy to challenge, and ultimately to change, the stigmatized views imposed on them by outside perceivers, often from the dominant culture. A higher level of freedom “to experiment with taboo subjects” in a short story than in a novel “partially accounts for the frequency with which short stories are used to introduce oftentimes stigmatized 'submerged population groups' to a wider reading public, ” in this case the taboos being race and racism encountered by Asian Americans (Lee 253). It is obvious then that the Asian American writer, by writing what has been experienced, attempts to expose the falsity of stereotypes in order to dismantle them. Stereotypical views of the Asian American, whether as the model minority or as the unassimilable alien, are racially biased and politically motivated and are in urgent need of correction. The ad hominem foreignizing tendency about American Asians constitutes the core of racist efforts in legal, political, and economic terms. In significant ways, then, the Asian American writer writes to expose the ridiculousness of racial stereotyping. To parody John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost to justify the ways of God to man, Asian American authors write at once to dejustify the ways of American racism to Asian America and to delegitimize the many stigmatizing labels that Asian Americans have been forced to wear since they first landed on the North American continent.

In the short stories I choose to examine in this introduction, racial and gender issues occupy the center of the authors' concerns. Whether the protagonists are male or female, they are almost invariably placed in the context of racialized and politicized discourse—husband pitted against wife, self against other, Oriental against Occidental, child against parent, male against female, employer against employee, and individual against society in the form of groups, institutions, and the government. Since Sui Sin Far is commonly viewed as the first Asian American short fictionist, my examination of the Asian American short story will start with her work.

As many of her short narratives—autobiographical and fictional—demonstrate, Sui Sin Far 1 (1865-1914) is keenly interested in the Asian American experience. As her autobiographical piece “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian” indicates, she was hardly recognized as having traces of Chinese extraction, and as a result she was usually regarded as a member of the white race. When she was working for a San Francisco newspaper, for example, at the proprietor's suggestion that she obtain subscriptions from Chinatown residents, she found that “the Chinese merchants and people generally are inclined to regard me with suspicion. They have been imposed upon so many times by unscrupulous white people” (120). Although it may be risky to attempt a comparison of a historical writer with a fictional character, one cannot be blind to the similar agonizing frustration and misunderstanding caused by mixed blood, experienced by Sui Sin Far and Faulkner's Joe Christmas in Light in August.

Joe Christmas encountered suspicions from people of both the white and

-xiv-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - The Asian American Short Story—the Cases of Sui Sin Far, Yamamoto, and Penaranda xiii
  • Peter Bacho (1950-) 1
  • Himani Bannerji (1942-) 5
  • Susham Bedi (1945-) 11
  • Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (1947-) 17
  • Carlos Bulosan (1911-1956) 23
  • Jeffery Paul Chan (1942-) 31
  • G.S.Sharat Chandra (1938-2000) 39
  • Diana Chang (1934-) 45
  • Frank Chin (1940-) 51
  • Susan Choi (1969-) 61
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (1956-) 65
  • Sui Sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton) (1865-1914) 73
  • Winnifred Eaton (1875-1954) 85
  • Jessica Hagedorn (1949-) 93
  • Gish Jen (1956-) 101
  • Ha Jin (1956-) 109
  • Lonny Kaneko (1939-) 115
  • Alex Kuo (1939-) 119
  • Jhumpa Lahiri (1967-) 125
  • Andrew Lam (1963-) 135
  • Evelyn Lau (1971-) 141
  • Chang-Rae Lee (1965-) 147
  • Don Lee (1959-) 151
  • Monfoon Leong (1916-1964) 155
  • Russell Leong (1950-) 159
  • Shirley Geok-Lin Lim (1944-) 167
  • David Wong Louie (1954-) 173
  • Darrell H.Y.Lum (1950-) 177
  • Rohinton Mistry (1952-) 183
  • Shani Mootoo (1958-) 189
  • Toshio Mori (1910-1980) 195
  • Bharati Mukherjee (1940-) 203
  • Fae Myenne Ng (1956-) 215
  • Hualing Nieh (1925-) 225
  • Susan Nunes (1943-) 237
  • Gary Pak (1952-) 243
  • Ty Pak (1938-) 251
  • Nahid Rachlin (1947-) 257
  • Raja Rao (1908-) 263
  • Patsy Sumie Saiki (1915-) 269
  • Bienvenido N. Santos (1911-1996) 273
  • Kathleen Tyau (1947-) 281
  • José Garcia Villa (1908-1997) 287
  • Sylvia A.Watanabe (1953-) 295
  • Hisaye Yamamoto (Desoto) (1921-) 303
  • Lois-Ann Yamanaka (1961-) 317
  • Karen Tei Yamashita (1951-) 327
  • Wakako Yamauchi (1924-) 333
  • John Yau (1950-) 337
  • Selected Bibliography 345
  • Index 349
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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