Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bridget Jung

Captain’s Log, Supplemental

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Along Came Jones by Linda Windsor
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Chick lit and chow mein

I just had to mention this article I read today: Bridget Jung’s Diary.

Jeff Yang is a columnist for SFGate.com, the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. His column “Asian Pop” is always interesting to me since I like keeping in touch with Asian American media and culture.

Today he happened to write about Asian American chick lit authors. There are two books by Asian authors releasing this week—one author duo I knew about, the other author I didn’t.

China Dolls by Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan is most definitely Asian chick lit. However, Mia King deliberately omits any mention of ethnicity for her character in Good Things. The article explains why.

It was an interesting perspective for me. I grew up in Hawaii, where Asians are the majority, and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a large Asian population. Most of the people I know are Asian—both friends and coworkers when I was doing biology research.

I don’t think I could write about a non-Asian character even if I tried. I’d probably get hate mail from readers complaining that my Irish character was an affront to every Irish American who ever lived. Or I’d get Italian Americans putting out a hit on me.

And then, of course, my Japanese American mother would complain that I didn’t write about Asians since I was one. She’d then lament the time and effort that she, as an English teacher, had wasted to introduce me to all the Asian American literature that Hawaii and the United States could supply.

Ironically, I hated all that stuff when I was growing up, but these days I’m reading tons of Asian American studies books to give me different perspectives for my single, Asian American heroines.

Anyway, feel free to read the article and let me know what you think. I enjoyed it a lot.

3 comments :

  1. Camy, that was a really good article thanks for sharing it with us.

    It's a great time to be an "ethnic" writer (for a lack of a better word, it's not like white people are void of ethnicity, you know? That term is really loaded). I do find it refreshing to see more stories being published my people of all kinds of ethnicities. I'm the kind of person who likes to learn about different cultures and stories are a good way to learn stuff that non-fiction books can't "teach".

    As a multi-ethnic lady, I make a real effort to include protagonists other characters various with various backgrounds and ethnicities. As a yougn girl I would have liked to read more stories where the main character "looked like me". But with that said, I don't have every page of my story shouting "hey--I'm this or that!" or anything annoying. Like in the current story I'm writing my protagonist has a black mother and an Asian-American father. I do describe how she looks and include some relevant tidbits about some family traditions that are ethnic in nature. But my main purpose is to tell a story about the human heart, whatever color its packaged in.

    Since I grew up around blacks, Chaldean-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans and Filipino-Americans, of course I'll add characters of those ethnicites. My readers can expect to see some backlava and rice balls on my character's dinner plate.

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  2. Loved the article. What I most enjoyed about it was the author's take on Chick Lit as a genre.

    I really like what they said about Chick Lit not dying, just evolving. I think there are a lot of us out here who are excited to see the genre opening up to whole different avenues--and all the things thoose might entail.

    It gives me hope for actually getting my current WIP published someday. :)

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  3. Hey Camy,

    I loved the article and your comments about how your ethnicity and life experiences color your writing.

    I started thinking more about it and ended up with a blog post on the topic. So, thanks for that too. :-)

    ReplyDelete

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