Eloquently written essays about aspects of Asian American life comprise this collection that looks at how Asian-Americans view themselves in light of America's insensitivities, stereotypes, and expectations. My Chinese-America speaks on masculinity, identity, and topics ranging from Jeremy Lin and immigration to profiling and Asian silences. This essays have an intimacy that transcends cultural boundaries, and casts light on a vital part of American culture that surrounds and influences all of us.
“This is truth-telling, which is harder to do in a highly diverse cultural context like America. My Chinese-America depicts how Asian-Americans view themselves compared to the insensitivities of the nation. Each essay has its own identity, eloquently defining what makes us human. Vital sensibilities are here, not eroded by Western beliefs, and these moral values should be greatly appreciated.”
— James Alan McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer
"Masculinity, mobility, history, and the American dream of equality all take their turn under Gee’s lens, as he shrewdly navigates a culture saturated with the privilege of white America and the realities of continued segregation in the so-called New South."
"In this collection of essays, Gee (English/Georgia Coll.) engagingly probes his thoughts about living as a man of Chinese origin in the United States. Feeling different from other Americans was a constant of his life that began in childhood. ... Provocative and mostly thought-provoking essays."
Reviews on Amazon
This wonderful book contains a series of essays about the author's experience as a Chinese-American growing up in America. Some stories are sad, some enlightening, and most are just plain enjoyable. He speaks of Chinese customs that are getting lost over time and his memories of them through his child eyes. There were experiences of discrimination and prejudice that made me sad but helped me to understand what some cultures endure to get along. It's family oriented and loving and sweet and I highly recommend this well-written personal book.
These essays are astute cultural criticism about race, ethnicity, identity, and masculinity, but are also very personal and intimate. One of my favorites is about the fear of aging in “Echocardiogram.” Another favorite is “2042.” While telling a story of a fishing trip in the Caribbean, Gee's essay becomes a contemplation about race and privilege. The year 2042 is the year that non-whites will outnumber whites in America according to population predictions. He is “wondering about the influence of minorities from what will be a very different America, in a rapidly transforming world.” Masterful and well worth reading. He doesn’t offer any easy answers, just a compassionate, inquisitive, personal voice, and one that we don’t hear often enough.
In My Chinese America, Allen Gee shares his experiences of growing up, and older, in an America that seems to value assimilation over cultural integrity. The author takes us to Arkansas, to experience a bit of profiling by the police, to suburban Albany to see what it is like to be the only Asian man in his school, on a date with a self professed Asian-o-phile and many other personal experiences that illustrate the “otherness” that he feels in almost all situations. The essays are poignant and full of heart, especially those describing his experience of Chinatown and fishing.
The book reminds us that non-ethnic people can be insensitive and silly and not even realize they are doing so. “Otherness” it seems, crosses cultures. Beautifully written.