As anti-Chinese prejudice rears its ugly head in the United States, more palpably and consequentially than it has in living memory, it is worth remembering that Chinese have been in America for generations. C Pam Zhang’s debut novel of Chinese immigrants who came for the railroads and the gold rush, How Much of These Hills is Gold, is a haunting tale of family, home, and belonging.
As Asian-American writers are increasingly considered mainstream, populate “best books” and “books to watch” lists, and receive acclaim from both critics and the general public, there has been a rediscovery of works of some of the early pioneers. Louis Chu’s Eat a Bowl of Tea, just re-released by University of Washington Press as part of its Classics of Asian American Literature series, was first published in 1961, re-released in 1979 and adapted for film by Wayne Wang in 1989, also to critical acclaim.
The Philippine economy has, relative to both its history and many other parts of the world, seen something of a recent boom. Yet although the poverty rate has plunged by about a third in the three years to 2018, Filipinos leaving their country for a future abroad still abound. Longtime New York Times reporter Jason DeParle explores global migration through a tightly-woven biography of a Filipino migrant family in A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century.
As a child growing up in Atlanta, author Julie Leung didn’t have the opportunity to read about inspiring Chinese-Americans and, specifically, Chinese-American artists. When she learned about Tyrus Wong, the artist who created the style in the Walt Disney film Bambi, through his New York Times obituary, Leung decided to write his story in the picture-book biography Paper Son: The inspiring story of Tyrus Wong, immigrant and artist.
It requires an inventive streak to write extensively of a person whose known biography might only fill a few pages. This is the long shot taken in The Chinese Lady: Afong Moy in Early America, by historian Nancy E Davis, who refers to her as “the first Chinese woman to arrive in America.”
Here is the most comprehensive account you are ever likely to find of the building of the western section of America’s transcontinental railway. Gordon Chang has certainly set himself a difficult task, as he seeks to document the daily life of the roughly 20,000 Chinese who contributed to building the Central Pacific section of American’s first transcontinental line in the late 1860s.
Unsettled Solidarities examines contemporary Asian and Indigenous cross-representations within different settler states in the Americas. Quynh Nhu Le looks at literary works by both groups alongside public apologies, interviews, and hemispheric race theories to trace cross-community tensions and possibilities for solidarities amidst the uneven imposition of racialization and settler colonization.