This essay traces how novelist Bich Minh Nguyen intertwines questions of identity and national politics in Short Girls (2009) and Pioneer Girl (2014).While Pioneer Girl has received critical attention for its engagement with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House novels through the eyes of a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, this essay asserts that Short Girls, a meditation on precarity in Midwestern immigrant communities after 9/11, exposes Nguyen’s insistence on the connection between the local and particular and the national and global. Drawing on a framework of critical regionalism, I argue that Nguyen’s novels link her characters’ deeply personal navigation of community and identity as Asian Americans in the Midwest, national myths romanticizing a white pioneer past, and political narratives over who belongs and who should be excluded in the post-9/11 era.


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pp. 383-399
Launched on MUSE
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