Yellow: Stories by Don Lee, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Yellow: Stories

Yellow: Stories

4.0 1
by Don Lee
     
 
As the Los Angeles Times noted in its profile of the author, "few writers have mined the [genre of ethnic literature] as shrewdly or transcended its limits quite so stunningly as Don Lee." Harking "back to the timeless concerns of Chekhov: fate, chance, the mystery of the human heart" (Stuart Dybek), these interconnected stories "are utterly contemporary,.

Overview

As the Los Angeles Times noted in its profile of the author, "few writers have mined the [genre of ethnic literature] as shrewdly or transcended its limits quite so stunningly as Don Lee." Harking "back to the timeless concerns of Chekhov: fate, chance, the mystery of the human heart" (Stuart Dybek), these interconnected stories "are utterly contemporary,...but grounded in the depth of beautiful prose and intriguing storylines" (Asian Week). They paint a novelistic portrait of the fictional town of Rosarita Bay, California, and a diverse cast of complex and moving characters. "Nothing short of wonderful...surprising and wild with life" (Robert Boswell), Yellow "proves that wondering about whether you're a real American is as American as a big bowl of kimchi" (New York Times Book Review).

Author Biography: Don Lee lives in Boston, where he is the editor of the literary journal Ploughshares.

Editorial Reviews

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Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Yellow is Don Lee's brilliant collection of stories, many of them set in the fictional town of Rosarita Bay. Peopled with several Asian-American characters who appear in more than one story, they each share a similar experience: handling the prejudice that accompanies being "yellow," in addition to their own insecurities. In the clever, mysterious story "The Price of Eggs in China," we meet the "Oriental Hair Poets," two fiercely competitive women who vie not only over their poetry but for the affections of a master chair maker who doesn't quite know what to make of them. A Korean-American woman comes to town to visit her sister in "The Lone Night Cantina," but fresh from a breakup, realizes she'd been spending time with someone she didn't really love rather than face the possibility of hurt and solitude. The title character in "The Possible Husband" is an investment analyst who made a fortune and retired young to pursue surfing full-time and his latest fancy, serial monogamy. He's "looking for the perfect woman, just like [he's] looking for the perfect wave." And in the title novella, "Yellow," readers follow Danny Kim from his childhood to his climb up the corporate ladder to a marriage with a woman for whom he feels little passion but with whom he feels safe. In each of his stories, Don Lee's writing is fresh, with sharply defined characters and a dark, biting sense of humor. (Spring 2001 Selection)
Los Angeles Times
Elegant and engrossing...[an] unusually complete portrait of contemporary Asian America.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
A gem....Lee has captured this truth beautifully, wisely, and with winning economy.
Ann Beattie
I loved this book. [Lee's] prose is sure, his eye keen, and his stories are involving, unexpected, and provocative.
Charles Baxter
Don Lee's stories are expertly written and wonderfully readable, with a fascinating mixture of the comic and sorrowful.
Stuart Dybek
A wonderful book, thoughtful and a page-turner both at once.
Robert Boswell
Nothing short of wonderful...I was really knocked out by it.
Gish Jen
This work is a pleasure.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set mostly in Rosarita Bay, a fictional coastal town near San Francisco, this debut collection from the editor of the literary journal Ploughshares traces the lives (usually the romantic lives) of a motley assortment of male protagonists. Lee examines the circumstances of Asians living in white society, as well as the differences and occasional tensions, mostly unnoticed by Anglos between persons of various Asian descents. "The Price of Eggs in China" finds gifted furniture designer Dean Kaneshiro caught in the middle of a feud between his girlfriend, Caroline Yip, and Marcella Ahn (aka the Oriental Hair Poets). Caroline is convinced that the more successful Marcella exists only to torment her, and Dean hatches a dubious plan to end their years-old rivalry. In "Voir Dire," public defender Hank Low Kwon grapples with his representation of a cocaine addict accused of beating his girlfriend's infant son to death. Hank's anxiety over the case and his occupation in general is exacerbated by the pregnancy of his own girlfriend, Molly, a blonde diving coach. And Korean-American oncologist Eugene Kim contemplates the peculiarities of mixed-race romances in "Domo Arigato," recalling an ill-fated weekend spent in Japan 20 years ago with a white girlfriend and her parents. Eugene wonders if "you couldn't overcome the hatreds of countries or race, any more than you could forgive someone for breaking your heart." Hatred and heartbreak, though, are mitigated by Lee's cool yet sympathetic eye and frequently dark sense of humor, as when, in the title story, young Danny Kim watches in horror as a drunk kisses his father on the mouth and proclaims, "I forgive you for Pearl Harbor." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Don Lee, the editor of the literary journal Ploughshares, has written a collection of short stories set in the fictional coastal California town of Rosarita Bay. All of the protagonists of Lee's short stories are Asian, or Asian American. Lee's unique and lively cast of characters includes Annie Yung, a 38-year-old bleached blonde who goes to the local cowboy bar to rope the perfect buckaroo boyfriend; Duncan Roh, a womanizing surfer; and Hank Low Kwon, a public defender who's ambivalent about the clients he represents, and about his Caucasian diving-coach girlfriend. Lee's cast of characters face life as Asians living in "white society," and also struggle with the tensions between people of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese descent. Lee writes with telling details and pointed humor as he weaves tales that shatter stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. Nearly all of the characters struggle with some ambivalence over their lives. The age-old question of whether or not a person is a "banana" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) is poignantly explored in the title story, "Yellow," in which a character named Danny Kim struggles with racism, and how he should react in the face of it. It's best to think of Yellow: Stories as being classified under "fiction," not "Asian-American fiction." The stories are compact, complicated, energetic, and sharply written. There is sexual content in some of the stories, and one example of arson in the first story. I feel that, when seen as a whole, the literary value of the collection overrides those potential concerns. Category: Short Stories. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2001, Norton, 256p.,
— Janice Bees;Freelance Reviewer, Chicago, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Debut collection of seven intelligent short stories and a novella about Asian-Americans, mostly centered in coastal California, by the editor of Ploughshares. Even at sea in a fishing boat, Lee anchors readers in the minds of his characters, who are deeply immersed in their occupations: piloting, engineering, golfing, making chairs, or even taking up amateur boxing. Yet work is always a vehicle through which the author defines characterizations and reveals emotion. In "The Price of Eggs in China," two poets—rich, swaddled Marcella Ahn and slobby, struggling Caroline Yip—publish at the same time, get reviewed in tandem, and then fade. Six years later, Caroline takes up with Dean Kaneshiro, an artist who hand-sculpts chairs (bought by the White House), but then finds her life again invaded by Marcella, who wants Dean for herself. "Widowers" limns two different responses to loss. Charter boat captain Alan Fujitani, whose wife died 20 years ago, takes a 22-year-old woman out to sea to dump her despised husband's ashes into the waves. They later strike up a wavering affair, though Alan is still heartbroken, haunted daily by memories of his dead spouse. Lee's most ambitious piece here is the novella, "Yellow," which gets under the skin of Korean Danny Kim. A dashingly athletic and handsome student who beds but fails to stick with several white girls, he finally marries a Korean chosen by his mother. His wife is the first Asian woman he 's ever slept with, and the marriage nearly dies under the pressure of his supremely disciplined climb toward a partnership in a Boston engineering firm. Danny's response to race prejudice is to attempt to rise above his skin. His story has an absolutely wonderful twist impossible to foresee, and it demonstrates Lee's strength in a longer form. Memorable. May the author now fearlessly face a novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393025620
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.99(d)

Meet the Author

Don Lee has received an American Book Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, an O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Fred R. Brown Literary Award. His stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, GQ, The Southern Review, American Short Fiction, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. For nineteen years, he was the principal editor of the literary journal Ploughshares. He is currently the director of the MFA program in creative writing at Temple University.

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