Writing the Ghetto
Class, Authorship, and the Asian American Ethnic Enclave
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Writing a book is a blessing. It is the good fortune of being able to spend your time indulging your ideas. Writing is another kind of blessing; the ability to give shape to blank pages is, for me, a humbling gift from the divine. More tangible graces shepherded me along the way. They are the people without whom I would have more dearly suffered self-doubt ...
1. Introduction: The Asian American Ghetto
What images are evoked by the phrase “Asian American ghetto”? Is this phrase an oxymoron in that Asian Americans, long considered a model minority, would hardly be thought to live and work in ghettos? Yet the Asian diaspora has seen the creation of spatially defined...
2. “Like a Slum”: Ghettos and Ethnic Enclaves, Ghetto and Genre
In a sociologist’s survey of the quality of life in San Francisco’s late twentieth-century Chinatown, residents and workers remark upon the difficult conditions of their lives, of the crowded, dilapidated housing conditions; the demanding but poorly paying, dead-end jobs...
3. The Japanese American Internment: Master Narratives and Class Critique
If Monica Sone’s Nisei Daughter is an internment critique, it is a curious one. In the preface to the 1979 edition, Sone states that her autobiography means to “attend to unfinished business with the [U.S.] government” regarding the [World War II] internment...
4. Chinese Suicide: Political Desire and Queer Exogamy
Last summer, as I was having dinner in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown, two tourists hesitantly stepped into the restaurant. A waiter summoned them to a table, but they were disoriented and cautious, mumbling briefly together before asking: “Is this Chinatown?” I laughed...
5. Ethnic Entrepreneurs: Korean American Spies, Shopkeepers, and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
In 2005, two entrepreneurial behemoths, Google and Microsoft, were entangled in a battle over intellectual property. At issue was Google’s hiring away of a Microsoft executive, Kai-Fu Lee, to head Google’s rapidly expanding China operations. The intellectual property in question...
6. Indian Edison: The Ethnoburbian Paradox and Corrective Ethnography
In the title story of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, Ruma, a second-generation South Asian American woman, lives in upper-middle-class suburban comfort. For her, “frugality [is] foreign” (3-4). This is a striking statement in that it reverses a common wisdom—foreignness usually...
Conclusion: The Postracial Aesthetic and Class Visibility
At the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Nam, the narrator of Nam Le’s short story, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” is surrounded by white classmates who resent ethnic literature. To them, ethnic literature is a sell-out genre. One student remarks: “Faulkner, you know . . . said we should write about the old verities. Love and honor and...
About the Author
Page Count: 252
Illustrations: 2 photographs
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: The American Literatures Initiative
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