Asian American Women's Popular Literature: Feminizing Genres by Pamela Thoma

By Pamela Thoma

Popular style fiction written via Asian American girls and that includes Asian American characters won a marketplace presence within the overdue 20th and early twenty-first centuries. those “crossover” books—mother-daughter narratives, chick lit, detective fiction, and foodstuff writing—attempt to bridge ethnic audiences and a broader examining public. In Asian American Women's renowned Literature, Pamela Thoma considers how those books either depict modern American-ness and give a contribution severely to public discussion approximately nationwide belonging.
Novels comparable to Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan’s China Dolls and Sonia Singh’s Goddess for Hire, or mysteries together with Sujata Massey’s Girl in a Box and Suki Kim’s The Interpreter, reveal Asian American women’s ambivalence concerning the trappings and prescriptions of mainstream American society. Thoma indicates how those writers’ works tackle many of the pressures on girls to regulate their roles relating to relatives and finances—reconciling the calls for of labor, customer tradition, and motherhood—in a neoliberal society.

A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative.

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Extra info for Asian American Women's Popular Literature: Feminizing Genres and Neoliberal Belonging

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Although a good many scholars argue that the Internet and other new media hold the potential for increased participation and an expanded, more democratic public sphere, analysis that more critically centralizes the media often echoes the work of numerous critics such as bell hooks who have been observing for some time the cultural appropriation of racial and ethnic minority cultures by mainstream media that profit from marketing difference in feelgood multicultural texts to white US audiences. 35 That is, the practice of publicly claiming rights to inclusion and difference through expressions of culture has been largely displaced by the practice of participating in commercial media culture, through producing but especially through consuming or purchasing expressions of Americanness or “lifestyles” that address and target marginalized cultural groups.

53 As with all Asian American cultural production, popular literature should be contextualized in both ethnic histories and in panethnic politics, or within “Asian America” as a discursive construct that is mobilized in various ways and by different agents. I retain “Asian American literature” as part of an argument about authors’ engagement with the marketplace, which complements recent scholarship that has turned toward ethnic specific formations. While I attend to the history and contemporary context of Asian American women’s contingent political or formal citizenship, I focus on citizenship as a social process involving cultural practices and productions, since it “is a qualitative experience produced asian american women’s popular literature╇ /╇ 33 and sustained by everyday interactions and practices that enact inclusions and exclusions” (Siu 7).

The desired firestorm quickly formed, with an intense tornado of Internet postings and articles expressing outrage, disbelief, and personal attacks against Chua as a “narrow-minded, joyless bigot”; there were even death threats (Liu). Other Asian American women were swiftly called in for their opinions on Chua’s memoir, with commentary by such mother-daughter relationship experts as television-news-reporter-turned-HapaMama-blogwriter Grace Hwang Lynch and novelist Gish Jen. The purpose of opening with this rather sensationalist tale is not to condemn Chua and her model of mothering nor to defend Chinese or Asian American mothers.

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