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Palgrave Macmillan

Narratives of Diaspora

Representations of Asia in Chinese American Literature

ISBN 9780230340060
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

In Chinese American literature, countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are experienced as well as imagined - experienced because some authors were born in Asia and have first-hand acquaintance with life in their birth-country, imagined because all representation inscribes ideological bias. For US-born authors of Chinese descent, Asia is often imagined with the help of parental stories, reading and research, and awareness of US political involvement and military activities in Asia. For naturalized Chinese American authors, Asia is the site of memories, often manifested as nostalgia or as interrogation and critique. Walter S.H. Lim explores how and why different Chinese American authors arrive at their choice of literary subject-matter and what this choice reveals about the cultural politics of national identity and belonging. Tracing the development of the literary production of Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See, and Russell Leong, among others, this study captures the effects of international politics and globalization on Chinese American diasporic consciousness.

Walter S. H. Lim is Associate Professor of English Literature at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of The Arts of Empire: The Poetics of Colonialism from Ralegh to Milton (1998) and John Milton, Radical Politics, and Biblical Republicanism (2006), as well as co-editor of The English Renaissance, Orientalism, and the Idea of Asia (2011).

1. The Sino-Japanese War and Chinese History in Amy Tan's Novels and Lisa See's Shanghai Girls
2. The Vietnam War and the Cultural Politics of Loyalty in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Fifth Book of Peace
3. Sexual Politics, Buddhism, and Transnationalism in Russell Leong's The Country of Dreams and Dust and Phoenix Eyes
4. Writing Exile and Diaspora in Li-Young Lee's The Winged Seed and The City in which I Love You
5. Postcolonial Southeast Asian Transnationalism in Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Among the White Moon Faces and Sister Swing
6. Writing Communist China and the Politics of Diasporic Identity: Ha Jin, Anchee Min, Lien Chao, and Lisa See
Conclusion: Chinese American Literature in the Twenty-First Century


"In refreshingly lucid analyses illuminating a broad range of texts that cross genre, gender, and national categories, Narratives of Diaspora is an important contribution to U.S. and ethnic literary studies, drawing on a keenly historicized postcolonial and transnational scholarship to engage seamlessly with the works of diasporic Chinese Americans from geopolitical territories such as Southeast Asia and China that are often viewed as separate." - Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Research Professor, University of California Santa Barbara, USA, and author of Among the White Moon Faces
"Developments in Asian American literature have never been so fascinating - especially when considering, as Walter Lim does in his excellent new book, the geopolitical realities of a transnational Pacific Rim as imagined by an ever-growing body of Chinese American writers. Taking the imagined space of Asia as the object of his critique, Lim shows through thoughtful and provocative readings how recent and canonical writers - from Maxine Hong Kingston to Ha Jin - situate Asia in their works. His conclusion that we are witnessing a shift away from the U.S. as the primary locus of Asian American literature says as much about this literature as it does about our world." - Jeffrey F.L. Partridge, Capital Community College, USA, and author of Beyond Literary Chinatown, an American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus Foundation, 2007
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