Equal parts contemplative and provocative, lyrical and wonkish, A Chinaman's Chance is a mesmerizing collage of childhood memories and contemporary reflections that compare and contrast China and America, and the Chinese and American dreams. As he visits the place where the waters of his Chinese ancestral heritage and his American upbringing meet, what Liu finds is two worldviews that are at once decidedly different, and uncannily similar; what he finds, ultimately, is himself, and all of the rest of us whose Chinese American identity makes us the best of two worlds, yet belonging fully to neither.” Jeff Yang, columnist, Wall Street Journal Online
“This is vintage Liuso lively, thoughtful, right-thinking, and beautifully put as to itself suggest the truth of his argument: to the extent that Chinese Americans thrive, America will thrive. Bravo!” Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing and Typical American
"Eric Liu brilliantly mines the history and experiences of Chinese Americans to draw insights into the current relationship between China and America, and to chart a course for the future. Whip-smart, enlightening, and always entertaining, Liu blends the personal and the socio-political to explore how we as Americans see the world, and each other." David Henry Hwang, Tony awardwinning playwright, M. Butterfly-
“In this provocative book, Liu, once a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, effortlessly connects his personal experience to larger historical and cultural trends.
These elegant essays contain at their core a passionate, well-reasoned argument for the value of both cultures from which Chinese Americans come and an appreciation of the unique blend that results. ... Liu has created the go-to source for anyone interested in the place Chinese Americans have had, currently have, and are pursuing in the US.”Booklist
“A Chinaman's Chance makes the personal politicaland historicalin the most elegant possible way. Eric Liu's memoir is intimate and also encompassing; it is of this twenty-first-century moment but also part of the centuries-long process of America reinventing itself by incorporating new Americans. It is an important and enjoyable addition to the literature of ethnic diversity, struggle, and success in the United States."James Fallows, The Atlantic-
"Liu's ability to so neatly capture the complexities of cultural identity on both deeply personal and more global levels is what makes this book shine.
As Liu considers Chinese cultural, spiritual, and linguistic history, personal lore, and more than a century of American Sino-stereotyping, he guides us to see just how our everyday views of 'they' and 'I' are formed ... and how they change.”Seattle Times
“To say that someone has no chance at all is to say that he doesn't have ‘a Chinaman's chance.' That is the irresistible title of Liu's new book, A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream. The story is about the past, present, and future of one family, but it also illuminates much about the Chinese-American experience.”San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday
"The book is less a memoir than a meditationrich, thoughtful, and ultimately optimisticon American-ness, Chinese-ness, and culture itself."Boston Globe
“In this vigorous, sharp book, [Liu] examines his identity against the backdrop of both Chinese and American cultures
. An eloquent, thought-provoking, and timely memoir.”Kirkus Reviews-
A noted journalist and educator’s reflections on his Chinese heritage and on “the chance America still has to be something greater than the sum of its many tinted parts.”As a young man,Atlanticcorrespondent Liu (Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life, 2004, etc.) believed that his choices determined who he was. Life experience later led him to conclude that he was “less the calligrapher than the parchment, absorbing the ink and scripts of others,” including—and especially—his Chinese-born parents. In this vigorous, sharp book, the author examines his identity against the backdrop of both Chinese and American cultures. Steeped as he was in Western democratic values, Liu realized that his parents had also imbued him with a strong sense of the “rite, propriety, social context and obligation” that defined Chinese society. Even his home exposure to Chinese language, with its “implied meanings [and] freighted terseness,” had influenced his writing and his way of thinking/being. While Liu’s love for America was beyond question, he also recognized that it was shaped more by a Chinese-inflected desire to belong to a whole rather than by some abstract idea of America. His appearance made him subject to cultural classification that subsumed the specificity of his Chinese heritage into a homogenizing Asian one. Such categorization transformed him into the unseen “model minority,” a stereotype that emerged in part as a cultural response to such Sinophobic historical developments as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. For Liu, Chinese-American identity remains problematic. Yet in a world where the U.S. now competes with an aggressively modernizing China, America still retains the cultural edge. The key is not for the U.S. to become more like China, which Liu sees as unable to synthesize cultural differences. Rather, it is to become even more open to combining “new genes and memes” and in so doing, demonstrate its global indispensability.An eloquent, thought-provoking and timely memoir.