“Chinese can be more than waitresses.”
“Recent Chinese American narratives have moved away from the weight of World War II, and contemporary economic and social forces are giving rise to a new generation of literature. Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnicity in the United States. There are nearly five million Chinese Americans in all walks of life, in all parts of the country. In one story from May-Lee Chai’s forthcoming collection, the insightful Useful Phrases for Immigrants, a family settles in Southern California during the recession, feeling as if they’ve come too late, after the earlier Chinese “bought real estate when it was cheaper, started mindless businesses, and made a fortune.” Lillian Li’s darkly comic Number One Chinese Restaurant is set in Maryland, in the D.C. suburbs. Leland Cheuk’s hilarious The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong takes place in a Southwest town founded by the protagonist’s great-great-grand uncle. Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. the World is a riches-to-rags tale, with a rollicking road trip from Bel Air to upstate New York, with stops in Phoenix, Austin, and more cities along the way.”
Read the rest of “Subverting the Chinese Immigrant Story” by Vanessa Hua (author of A RIVER OF STARS)
I really wanted to go to DonutFest but none of my actual friends were as fervid about donuts as I, so I thumbed FriendHyre on my phone and hired someone for just $20.
I thought of the cost as a surcharge on the event, which had a $50 cover for all the donuts you can eat from the top ten artisanal vendors in The City. I bought two tickets and met up with Damon at 9 a.m. in front of The Copper Mine, that warehouse concert venue by the river. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, and went inside. Damon was dressed blankly, dark outer layers, short brown hair, and a squarish, halogen-toned face—combined with his above-average height and thick and convergent brows, I’d be able to find him easily if we got separated.
DonutFest was packed. The warehouse was dark and opaque with theatrical smoke and fog lit by red stage lights, and a Top 40 rap song about cunnilingus thumped. Almost immediately I bumped into a young woman who spilled a thimble of the free pour over coffee from the local roaster with the table by the entrance. I brushed myself off. No worries. The stain was invisible in the darkness because I was dressed like Damon, dark outer layers of durable and pricey fabric from a major multinational brand headquartered in Sweden (recent manufacturing worker pay controversy in some small nation I couldn’t remember). I closed my eyes to inhale the sweetness of the freshly baked donuts (admittedly faint because The Copper Mine has no kitchen, which meant the donuts weren’t freshly made). I listened to the mmm’s and “that’s good’s” from all these people my age and thought: this is youth, this is living, this is why you pay to live in The City.
Read the rest here.
“Confessions of The Lovestruck”
China launched an unmanned spacecraft named Shenzhou 2. Apple debuted iTunes. And Carrie Kahl auditioned for The Lovestrikes. I remember it better than the day we heard “Blood Hunger” went platinum. She had jet-black hair, blue eyes under thick mascara and eye shadow, and lipstick the color of pork’s blood. She wore denim shorts cut off at the knees and a tank top made out of an XL t-shirt with the sleeves removed so you could see her black bra underneath. Her upper arms were dark with tattoos of knife-wielding skeletons with long hair. Warren, Census, and I had been looking for a lead singer for months. We hadn’t really been looking for a woman, certainly not one as beautiful as Carrie. Even though her makeup made her look like a cross between a vamp and a clown, she couldn’t hide how beautiful she was.
Carrie plugged in her guitar and began strumming an A-minor chord and a C with a scratch rhythm. And then she began to sing. I heard Chrissy Hynde. I heard P.J. Harvey. I heard Courtney Love. I heard my heart in my gullet. I don’t remember what words she sang. But my God, her voice.
Read the rest here.
A long (8 year) journey from start to finish has finally reached a destination. C&R Press, the home of an array of accomplished authors including Laura Catherine Brown, Brian Leung, Janet Sarbanes, Chris Campanioni, Ariel Francisco, and many many more, will be the home for my next novel NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN. Super honored to be among the humble craftspeople doing their work, and I’ve loved the work Andrew Sullivan and John Gosslee have done for some time.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE BOOK
Meet Sirius Lee, a fictive famous Chinese American comedian. He is a no good, very bad Asian. He is not good at math (or any other subject, really). He has no interest in finding a “good Chinese girlfriend.” And he refuses to put any effort into becoming the CEO/Lawyer/Doctor his parents so desperately want him to be. All he wants to do is making people laugh. A cross between Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jade Chang’s The Wangs Vs. The World, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN follows Sirius’s life from his poor, suffocating upbringing in the immigrant enclaves of Los Angeles to the loftiest heights of stardom as he struggles with substance abuse and the prejudice he faces despite his fame. Ultimately, when he becomes a father himself, he must come to terms with who he is, where he came from, and the legacy he’ll leave behind.
More soon, and in the meantime…
Check out C&R Press and buy some of their books!
“I have occasional bouts of conscience about my work.”
“People call me a Whitener. It’s just a nickname. I don’t like it much. Inaccurate and reductive. My job is cultural—national, even—civic, perhaps. Definitely not racial.
My official title is Foreignness Engineer of the City Council of Commerce. I inspect newly opened businesses and provide their proprietors Customer Experience Recommendations (CERs) that ensure the correct balance between our citizens’ natural desire for foreignness and an experience native to what we all have come to expect from living in America.
Ever notice that, in The City, the most successful high-end restaurants have white servers and maître d’s even when the cuisine is ethnic? I started that. Ten years ago. There was a Vietnamese noodle shop run by Chinese immigrants, and I recommended that they hire whites to serve their customers and increase prices by eighty percent, and it quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in The City, even winning a Michelin star. Diners want to feel like they’re included in the familiar and dominant culture, and most importantly, they will pay for that feeling. Thanks to my little innovation, the CCC made it a standard CER to issue small fines to restaurateurs failing to hire Caucasians for at least 75% of their staff.
Back before it became an official city function, it was called gentrification.”
Read the rest at Atticus Review.