Her Wild American Self

Her Wild American Self

by M. Evelina Galang, M. Evelina Galang

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Filipina American debut author displays the contradictions of Asian American experience with irony & enthusiasm, anger & wit.


Filipina American debut author displays the contradictions of Asian American experience with irony & enthusiasm, anger & wit.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite some pointed descriptions, most of Galang's debut short-story collection is marred by flat endings and characters almost entirely lacking in self-knowledge. This is particularly unfortunate in stories about self-discovery, such as "Rose Colored," in which the well-balanced Rose compares her life to her go-go dancing cousin; the title story, about the adolescent Augustina and her budding sexual relationship with her cousin; and "Figures," in which Ana, who paints voluptuous nudes, marries a man whose stability is at first appealing but who becomes vaguely grating. The most provocative work here is "Filming Sausage," a diary-like account of escalating sexual harassment on the set of a breakfast-meat commercial, but it too ends with a whimper as the victim switches from a moment-by-moment second-person account to a sort of summing up in the final paragraphs. Marking the beginning, middle and end are three short pieces, which are more political commentary on the position of Asian and Asian-American women than stories. Like in the head-on rant on stereotypes in "The Look-Alike Women" ("Because you are all exotic. Sensual and mysterious as red silk kimonos. Passionate like volcanoes, Mount Fuji and Pinatubo. Sexy like the girls who danced in clubs along Oolangapo. Fierce like Miss Saigon"), they are direct and forcefully worded giving some taste of what Galang might yet achieve in her longer stories. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
YA-In a series of autobiographical essays, Galang presents a vivid picture of the present-day life of a young Filipino-American woman. Her everyday encounters with American society are tempered by the cultural richness retained from her ancestral country. The value and importance of family, community, and religion shine within each story while the role of ethnic foods, clothing, and living style weaves its way throughout each selection. This collection is especially appealing to readers who are interested in other cultures or their assimilation in American society or who are looking for materials about Filipino Americans. The stories read quickly and each subtly contrasts life in America with that of life in the Philippines. An interesting collection of stories about an Asian minority in America that is rarely depicted in literature.-Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Debut collection of 12 consummately crafted but somewhat lifeless stories exploring the Filipina-American experience.

These pieces by American-born Galang, some of which have appeared in magazines like Amerasia Journal, New Voices, and Quarterly West, offer insight into an immigrant group overshadowed by more familiar Asian immigrants, though their native land's relationship with the US has been long and close. The contrast between the long-held admiration for things American and the actual cost of living the American dream is a recurring theme here. In "Rose Colored," a visit to a dancer cousin, Mina, who has embraced her immigrant heritage, suggests to successful banker Rose that she may have tried too hard to escape her own past. In "Talk to Me, Milagros" and "Our Fathers," respectively, Nelda, a young Filipina-American, at first envies Milagros, the daughter of recently arrived immigrants, then witnesses Milagros's hurt as her father, an attorney in the Philippines, tries to adjust to being a busboy in the US; and a young girl watches as death disrupts her father's long struggle to bring his parents to America. Other tales explore the additional tensions of being female in families that still honor old country ways and ideals. In the title story, "wild" Mona is told the cautionary tale of her unmarried aunt Augustina, who was sent back to the Philippines pregnant. In two others, a woman is distressed to observe her brother turning her niece into a traditional Filipina woman ("Miss Teenage Sampaguita"); and a single woman faces family hostility when she returns home pregnant to visit her dying mother ("Contravida"). In another notable piece, "Filming Sausage," the protagonist, in charge of a film's continuity, is harassed by the director for being both female and Asian.

A welcome addition to the Filipina-American corpus, though no story here, despite Galang's best intentions, ever quite captures that long lingering sense of difference and dissonance that is so much the immigrant experience.

Product Details

Coffee House Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
15 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Linh Dinh (born 1963) is a Vietnamese-American poet, fiction writer and translator. Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam, came to the US in 1975, and is living in Philadelphia. In 2005, he was a David Wong fellow at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, England .He spent 2002-2003 in Italy as a guest of the International Parliament of Writers and the town of Certaldo. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press, 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press, 2004), and four books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish, 2003), American Tatts (Chax, 2005), Borderless Bodies (Factory School, 2006) and Jam Alerts (Chax, 2007). His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Poetry 2004, The Best American Poetry 2007, and Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among other places. The Village Voice picked his Blood and Soap as one of the best books of 2004. Translated into Italian by Giovanni Giri, it is published in Italy as Elvis Phong è Morto. Dinh is also the editor of the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (Seven Stories Press 1996) and Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish 2001), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (Tupelo 2006). He has translated many international poets into Vietnamese, and many Vietnamese poets and fiction writers into English, including Nguyen Quoc Chanh, Tran Vang Sao, Van Cam Hai and Nguyen Huy Thiep.

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