Bulletproof Buddhists and Other Essays

Bulletproof Buddhists and Other Essays

by Frank Chin
     
 

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Frank Chin is perhaps the most instantly recognizable voice in Chinese American writing today. A self-proclaimed "transcendent Chinaman pagan heathen barbarian," Chin searches out (or stumbles on) the right people and situations, vividly recording the outcome in distinctively American terms. Here are six of his best essays, spanning the past forty years. Making his… See more details below

Overview

Frank Chin is perhaps the most instantly recognizable voice in Chinese American writing today. A self-proclaimed "transcendent Chinaman pagan heathen barbarian," Chin searches out (or stumbles on) the right people and situations, vividly recording the outcome in distinctively American terms. Here are six of his best essays, spanning the past forty years. Making his way across the U.S. to Cuba, Chin is arrested as an American spy some time between Castro's revolution and the missile crisis. He meets Ben Fee, the man who integrated San Francisco, and is introduced to Southeast Asian gangs and culture in San Diego. He discovers Chinese bachelor society along the California-Mexico border and travels to Singapore, where he speculates on the fear and suppression of Chinese culture among Chinese Singaporeans. Back at the home front, he encounters the new white racism along Interstate 5 during the Gulf War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Whether he is writing about a trip to Cuba he took as a student during the 1960s, his visits with the inhabitants of the Chinatowns along the California-Baja California border, interviews with a white police officer in San Diego who has succeeded in reducing tensions between Cambodian and Laotian youth gangs there or his experiences at a writers' conference in Singapore, Chin tends to portray everyone, and everything, in this collection of six essays, in terms of race, ethnicity and cultural stereotypes. Chin heaps scorn not only on whites (Anglos) but also on Asians in Singapore (a city whose culture he disdains), and especially on Chinese American writers whom Chin accuses of having sold out to white American culture and values. Waving about classic texts, in particular Sun Tzu's The Art of War, he denigrates those who like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. "They like the idea of falsifying Chinese culture in the name of art and Westernization. They are admitted and joyous white supremacists." Throughout, Chin, who prefers to be referred to as a Chinaman rather than a Chinese American, makes references to being someone without "a sense of home." The problems of the ethnically displaced and the merits of cultural diversity versus assimilation are important issues. The tone of Chin's arguments against the desirability and possibility of assimilation is emotional rather than intellectual, bitterly accusatory rather than rational. Unfortunately that will probably limit his book to preachifying to the converted. (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Of these six essays, four discuss the Asian experience, particularly that of the Chinese in California; the other two discuss the author's trip to Cuba in 1962 and impressions of Singapore on a trip to a writers' conference in 1994. The personal stories of Asian gangs and those of early, hard-working immigrants have a resounding poignancy, especially since many are drawn from interviews. Yet the rantings about various topics (bigotry, storytelling, Chinese American authors, stereotyping, Singapore, malls, etc.) often seem mean-spirited and incomplete. In addition, they are often dated: who thinks of Chinese as Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu types these days? Chin, author of the novel Donald Duk (Coffee House, 1991) and the play The Chickencoop Chinaman, among other works, has a hip, fluent, fast-paced style, but we look forward to his next novel, not his essays.Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780824819996
Publisher:
University of Hawaii Press, The
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Series:
Intersections Series
Pages:
431
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.79(h) x 1.46(d)

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