The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This is a book about the Asian immigrant family and intergenerational conflict - conflict that we think we know; after all, the story has been often enough told. But in order to dislodge us from our tired circuits around the immigrant family romance, this analysis deliberately brackets the (inter)personal. So Ingratitude will not be particularly interested in the ...
1. The Filial Debtor: Jade Snow Wong
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Of Jade Snow Wong's early autobiography, it is well established that the 1989 introduction invokes, from its very first sentence, an exoticizing and problematic rhetoric of Chinese cultural otherness, and introduces her childhood experiences immediately into a discourse of "cultural conflict" or (in her words) "conflicting cultural expectations." "[M]y upbring-...
2. Refractions of Harm: Maxine Hong Kingston
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Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior 1 opens with the most famous of her chapters: the story of the No Name Woman. This family fable, in which Maxine's aunt drowns herself and her newborn in the family well on the night of the villagers' masked raid, contains violence, judgment, illicit sexuality, and retribution - the elemental high drama of fairy tales, folk legends, ...
3. The Caring of Jailers: Evelyn Lau, Catherine Liu
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Though it catapulted her to mainstream fame, and notoriety, the publication of Evelyn Lau's Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid (1989)1 was not well received by the Chinese Canadian community. An abridged journal of the teenager's two years on the sidewalks of Canadian cities, in and out of social services and strangers' homes, the book devotes the bulk of its pages to her ...
4. Desirable Daughters: Fae Myenne Ng, Elaine Mar, Chitra Divakaruni
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Among the three ill-fated daughters of Fae Myenne Ng's Bone "one unmarried, another who-cares-where, one dead" (Ng, 24)1 - there is a suicide to be sure, but there is also a disownment. When Nina, pregnant and unmarried, decides to abort, she decides also to inform her parents of these developments. The disclosure is unnecessary on any legal or logistical level - bound ...
Afterword: The Ending
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Ingratitude goes to press something like a decade since its first pencil outline, and it's strange to see how predictive that outline truly was. Though what I could not at that time have predicted, what would have confounded the imagination then, is the present. In which living is not a debtor's prison, and one's most cherished wish is not escape. But this book ends on a bridge....
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These pages are bound by the time, faith, and generosity of wonderful people. This project would be unthinkable without the guidance and influence of Abdul JanMohamed, Sau-ling Wong, and Colleen Lye. They are embedded here too thoroughly to footnote. Berkeley is wrapped up in my memory with home-baked chocolate ...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2011