Last week I met a woman who traveled from Thailand to Canada and the U.S. where she pursued her education 25 years ago. She had no intention to stay, but did. It was overseas that she ended up connecting with her Chinese roots.
Now a cultural director at the Wo Hing Museum in Maui’s historic town of Lahaina, Busaba Yip Douglas offered this: “I don’t need Ancestry.com. If we have a good relationship with your ancestors, we don’t have to search for them. They will come to us at the right time, and with the right people.”
This is a story from Cupertino, Calif., a slice of school life. I worked on it for my master’s thesis when I was studying journalism at Stanford and held on to it and didn’t really share it outside of school — I’m not totally sure why. Because I’m embarking on a journey to share more tales from Asian America, I’ll kick it out the door now.
The students featured in here have likely advanced, graduated from middle school or high school or college. Their parents may have retired, switched jobs, something else. I wonder what the community is like now?
In any case, the stories here were recorded in the spring of 2014. The Atlantic published an article called “The Silicon Valley Suicides” by Hanna Rosin last month, and because Cupertino is next door to Palo Alto, where her article is centered, I think it’s relevant to take another look at the various experiences of students in an area exceptional for its multicultural makeup and academic experience.
Delivered in three outrageously funny monologues, Sandra Tsing Loh’s “Aliens in America” makes the alien feel familiar. Image courtesy: Amazon
One audio story told in three monologues, Sandra Tsing Loh’s “Aliens in America” pulls into focus a childhood with her Chinese father and German mother in Southern California.
“I guess a man looks better in a Buick than he ought,” Loh recalls of the fateful day when her parents first met. “Especially when it’s surrounded by Southern California in the ’50s, a palm-fringed, swimming pool-dotted utopia lit by a sun so bright you actually start to hallucinate.”
Thus starts a relationship between a German woman who survived WWII bombings and a Chinese man who’d been orphaned in Shanghai. Having survived tough circumstances and given them up for cheerier ones in the U.S. is where their similarities end. Their odd union eventually leads to two daughters, including Loh and her sister Kaitlin, and innumerable family clashes. Continue reading “Aliens in America by Sandra Tsing Loh”→
“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan elegantly weaves together the stories of Chinese mothers and their American-born daughters. | Image courtesy: Novelr
As a child, I’d curl up next to Mom on the couch and she’d read to me aloud. There was a constant stream of stories and picture books. One rested on a high shelf next to the fire place out of reach. Gorgeous swoops of color swirled over its cover sleeve. With its hardback, I knew it was special. It turned out to be “The Moon Lady,” and that’s how I came to know Amy Tan and my first Asian American writer.
Now more than two decades later, I turn to her first novel.
Brag moment: I’ve had the great fortune to help my rockstar friend with his rockstar book and it’s featured in the latest issue of the University of Nebraska Press catalog (see page 5).
Charlie and I met working at the Half Moon Bay Review. A talented photographer, he provided pictures as I provided words and together we made hundreds of stories.
Since then he’s been writing one of his own. A big one — a biography on one of the most influential players in media and martial arts, not to mention Asian America. If you haven’t met him already, meet him now. It’s Bruce Lee!
Patricia Park’s debut novel“Re Jane” recounts the post-grad life of its title heroine as she balances her Korean and American identities. | Image courtesy: Navdheep Singh Dhillon, who happens to have a really great list of recent novels by people of color.
For Jane Re, it ain’t easy being 20-something. Fresh out of college, the job market sucks and she’s peppered with criticism at home by the uncle who’s raised her in Queens. What’s a girl to do?
Get the heck out of Flushing, for starters, then find a job as a nanny, inappropriately fall for her employer, recognize the inappropriateness of it all, run far, far away, and work through something of an identity crisis.