NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN on this #readinglist by @vanessa_hua @electriclit – “10 Books About Model Minorities Behaving Badly” – Get Them All! #writingcommunity

Q. What’s an Asian F?

A. An A-.

Q. What’s the Asian Triple threat?

A. Medical doctor, researcher, and professor

 

When people have asked me about my short story collection, Deceit and Other PossibilitiesI’ve joked it’s about “model minorities behaving badly.” My characters—immigrants and the children of immigrants—attempt to fake it until they make it, to hold together their family and their identity. The secrets and lies are a mechanism not only for harmony, but also for survival.

Model minorities are said to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than average. For decades, white conservatives have used the perceived success of Asian Americans as a racial wedge, to minimize the impact of structural racism on blacks and Latinos. See: Harvard admissions lawsuit. See: admissions to elite public high schools in New York.

The myth also turns Asian Americans into a monolith, masking huge variations in language, culture, and educational and economic status within the community. ”

My collection—now reissued with additional new stories—subverts these stereotypes and expectations. What follows here are books that shatter such myths in ways poignant and funny, dark and light.”

Check out Vanessa Hua’s reading list at Electric Literature.

“Comedy as Coping Mechanism” @alex_behr and me talk over @propellermag #interview #novel #comedy #indie #publishing #writingcommunity

“MY GOOD FRIEND Leland Cheuk named his Brooklyn-based indie publishing company, 7.13 Books, after an auspicious day in 2014. That year he’d been struggling against a potentially lethal form of pre-leukemia that had landed him in an isolation ward in New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I’d met him in a writing class in 2001 and liked him instantly. I visited him on July 4, 2014, sterilizing my hands, making small talk through a mask with him and his wife, Jessi, and feeling all our actions and words had a physical and mental scrim in this disease land that shouldn’t be his land. We knew without stating it that my brief visit could be the last. But he still made jokes—always. In an essay about his illness in Salon he writes: “My wife tried to shave my head, and we laughed at her tentativeness with the clippers. She had never shorn anyone before. She left the back of my head mostly untouched, which made me look like I was trying to grow a chemo mullet.” Fortunately, on July 13, after a bone marrow transplant, his red blood cell counts moved up. The transplant saved his life. And later that day he got an email announcing a book deal for his first novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong.

Leland has been to many prestigious residencies, including MacDowell, taught at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and elsewhere, has two novels and a short story collection published, is working on another novel and collection, and has written numerous reviews, essays, and short fiction. Leland is generous, not only with the authors he’s published, but also with close friends. (At his wedding dinner party in 2009, piles of books formed centerpieces down the tables as party gifts; I snagged Out Stealing Horses.) His take on life can be dry and cutting; it’s informed and perceptive, but not pretentious. He’s clear about what he can—and can’t—do for his authors. (In 2018, he published my debut collection of short stories.) I’ve fewer friends as honest as he.

As the white adoptive mother of a child born in China, I can tell Leland things I would tell few others. At a bar, in texts, or on the phone, he’s always willing to listen when I talk to him about my son’s experiences with racism, both as recipient and—sometimes—as perpetrator. Despite our efforts, my son has internalized some negative stereotypes, much like the anti-hero protagonist in Leland’s second novel, No Good Very Bad Asian (C&R Press). The book is in the form of a confessional letter by Sirius Lee—a Chinese American comic and film star—to his young daughter. NGVBA dives into stereotypes and codes we ascribe to people unlike us, and culturally determined roles we inhabit to our detriment. Sirius Lee copes with bullying and the vicissitudes of fame, addiction, abandonment, infidelity, chronic illness, glass ceilings based on bigotry, Hollywood’s fickleness, and parental grief. So go out and buy it already. —Alex Behr”

Read the interview over at Propeller Magazine

@The_Rumpus and author @lillianhowan (THE CHARM BUYERS) reviews NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN #bookreviews #writingcommunity

“All you can do is be aware that what a zombie sees isn’t real.”

So observes Sirius Lee, the narrator of No Good Very Bad Asian, a full-throttle, hilarious, bittersweet, and often poignant romp through the world of stand-up comedy and Asian American family dysfunction. With this particular chunk of wisdom, author Leland Cheuk’s protagonist takes aim at “the mindless way we look upon each other,” observing that “some call it racism. Or sexism. Or classism. I call it zombie-ism.”

Calling it like it is—no matter how taboo—and getting a laugh in the process becomes Sirius Lee’s craft, profession, and passion. Named Hor Luk Lee (yes, he says: “My Chinese name is pronounced ‘whore’”) by his argumentative parents, owners of a round-the-clock liquor store, he fully embraces his stage name, Sirius Lee, dreamed up by Johnny Razzmatazz, a reality TV celebrity and flawed father figure. Written in the form of a book-length letter to his daughter, No Good Very Bad Asian recounts Sirius Lee’s rollercoaster life as a comedian and actor.

Read the rest of the review at The Rumpus!

@graceLP puts BAD ASIAN on her Year in Reading list with Mira Jacob and Grace Talusan, calls it “a riot” @The_Millions #readinglists #novel #comedy #asianamericans – Stay calm, everyone.

“Earlier this year I started writing an essay that includes references to Maman, the towering spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois that I’d seen in Tokyo and Ottawa and that were at the time being exhibited at SFMoMA. I discovered that my Writers Grotto colleague Bridget Quinn had a chapter on Bourgeois in her book Broad Strokes so I pulled it out of my TBR. In her introduction, Quinn describes falling in love with art history as an undergraduate at U.C. Santa Barbara while having a nagging feeling that something was missing: Where were the women artists? In the massive textbook by H.W. Janson that we all used in college, the first female artist (Artemisia Gentileschi) didn’t appear until page 500, and only 16 made the cut in 800+ pages.

Broad Strokes is an engaging and necessary step toward correcting this imbalance, with 15 essays on artists ranging from famous to obscure, and from the 17th century to today. While not a focus of her book, Quinn also addresses the erasure of nonwhite artists by including chapters on Ana MendietaRuth Asawa and Kara Walker. Quinn seamlessly weaves together biography, art history, memoir, and incredible storytelling, such as in the chapter on Edmonia Lewis and the rediscovery of her long-lost sculpture The Death of Cleopatra. Her writing is intimate and unstuffy, and it makes learning about important and overlooked artists feel like having a conversation with a smart, badass friend.

I went to AWP for the first time this year and it was exciting, enriching and… so overwhelming. It’s essentially two months’ worth of readings and socializing (and book shopping!) packed into three days. One of highlights was the chance to reconnect with Grace Talusan and to pick up her utterly incredible memoir-in-essays The Body Papers.”

Read the rest of the list here.