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American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices
     

American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices

by Laurence Yep, Kam Mak (Illustrator)
 

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The dragon, a symbol of Asian art and mythology, appears in many guises and is always adaptable — a survivor par excellence. Asian Americans display this same supple strength as they move between their Asian culture and their American one.

In American Dragons, Laurence Yep brings together twenty-five talented writers, each with a different story about

Overview

The dragon, a symbol of Asian art and mythology, appears in many guises and is always adaptable — a survivor par excellence. Asian Americans display this same supple strength as they move between their Asian culture and their American one.

In American Dragons, Laurence Yep brings together twenty-five talented writers, each with a different story about the Asian American experience:

- A Chinese American girl struggles to find her place in a suburban high school without denying her true intelligence.

- A young woman is torn when her romantic feelings clash with the expectations of her Vietnamese parents.

- A twenty-first-century teenager and his aging grandfather learn that it is possible to live in the future without losing touch with the past.

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
An East-meets-West collection that kids will enjoy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780064406031
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/28/1995
Series:
A Trophy Bk.
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.51(d)
Lexile:
990L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Identity

A dragon appears in many guises and is always adaptable, the survivor par excellence. Asian Americans display the same versatility as they move back and forth between their Asian culture and their American one. As Philip Slater states in The Pursuit of Loneliness, on the one hand, America stresses competition, individualism, independence and technology. An Asian culture, on the other hand, stresses cooperation, community, interdependence and tradition. The cultures pull in opposite directions, and it is the soul of the Asian American that provides the rope for that tug of war.

Who am l? What am I? These are questions my students raised most often when I taught creative writing in Asian American Studies at UC, Berkeley and UC, Santa Barbara. Wing Tek Lum speaks eloquently about that limbo in his "Translations."

Sometimes the search for an identity transforms the American Hopescape into a war zone. Whatever their culture, almost all Asian American writers are veterans of the battlefield represented by Darrell Lum's Chinese school. In his "Yahk Fahn, Auntie," Darrell Lum chronicles the guerilla warfare that takes place not only in that classroom but at the dinner table as well.

Steve Yoon's "Stoplight" poignantly describes the dilemma of being caught between the trenches in a noman's land.

The dance floor is another spot where cultures can war with one another. "Miss Butterfly" is the ironic title that Toshio Mori gives to the dilemma of Asian American women who are caught in the crossfire between American and Asian American male stereotypes

Asian American parents burden their children with a heavy load of expectationsbefore they send them into the Hopescape; but like medieval European knights these children can become so weighed down with armor and weapons that they can barely move. In her "Hollywood and the Pits," Cherylene Lee shows that dropping that burden is the first step toward a ceasefire. Perhaps the next steps are what Lensey Namioka suggestsin the excerpt from her novel Who's Hu?: Find what you want to do and what you are good at.

Wing Tek Lum is a prize-winning Chinese American poet who resides in Hawaii.

Translations

for Jeffery Paul Chan in appreciation for his letter to the editor, New York Review of Books, April 28, 1977

1
Ghosts: they conjure
up childhood
scenes -- me running around in
old bedsheets, reading
about Casper
next to a comic
rack, marvelling at
the trick camerawork for Cosmo G. Topper.

Gwai: I am older now,
sometimes catch previews
to those Shaw Brothers horror
films, at the
library research ancient
rites of exorcism for
the baneful
who brought pestilence and
drought. There are also,
I have learned, Old Demons who wear
white skin
and make believe
they behave
like men.

2
The Chinaman gave
the Demon what
the former thought
the latter thought
were things
Chinese: a comedy
of errors,
part fawning, part
deception and contempt.
There is no word for
fortune cookie in Cantonese.

3
Tohng Yahn Gaai was what
we once called
where we
lived: "China-People-
Street." Later, we mimicked
Demon talk
and wrote down only
Wah Fauh -- "China-Town."
The difference
is obvious: the people
disappeared.

American Dragons. Copyright � by Laurence Yep. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

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