What is race for? That bracing question animates every page of The Accidental Asian, a powerful work from one
of the nation's leading young voices. In these personal and poignant reflections on assimilation,
Eric Liu articulates a vision of American identity that will provoke and inspire. For Liu, the price of
assimilation became clear when he tried to read a memorial book about his father's life, composed in Chinese,
and found himself staring at a blur of indecipherable characters. There in his hands was the measure of his
inheritance. Liu, meanwhile, has watched with both wonder and concern as a pan-ethnic Asian American
identity has taken shape. Here now is a race that offers a new source of roots--but also tightens the hold that
color has upon our minds.
Like so many in the second generation, Liu doesn't know whether to embrace, resist, or redefine assimilation--
and ends up doing all three at once. He speaks candidly about his journey from a fierce pursuit of racelessness to a slow
rapprochement with race. He is not afraid to reveal his ambivalence. At bottom, Liu is an "accidental Asian"--someone who has stumbled upon a sense of race, who is not always sure what to do with it.
Weaving narrative and analysis into a series of elegant essays, Liu addresses a broad range of questions:
* Is whiteness America's fundamental race problem?
* Are Asian Americans really the New Jews?
* Should we fear the rising might of China?
* What does a journey through Chinatown
reveal about our own lives?
* What might intermarriage mean for Asian
Americans--and for the future of race itself?
The clear voice in these pages will resonate with Americans of every hue. Beyond black and white, conservative and liberal,
native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is this field that Liu, with insight and compassion, invites us to explore. --
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
In this candid, well-crafted memoir, Liu, a former speechwriter for President Clinton, explores his identity as a second-generation Chinese American. Although he was raised to assimilate, Liu recalls that his discomfort as an adolescent when trying to fit in was problematical because his hair and skin tone marked him as different from those around him. He also shares haunting memories of traveling to China and visiting his grandmother in Manhattan's Chinatown, events that engendered ambivalent emotions both of alienation from and attraction to his heritage. Liu's concerns about the concept of "Asian American," which he regards as based on physical characteristics rather than shared ethnicity, are rendered thoughtfully, as are his positive feelings about intermarriage. (His wife is a white Southerner with a Jewish grandmother.) He is impassioned, however, about the fallout from a scandal surrounding the activities of democratic fund-raiser John Huang. When Liu calls New York Times columnist William Safire "a Jew and defender of Jews" for unfairly stereotyping Asian Americans because of Huang's questionable actions, this strikes a discordant note. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
September 06, 1999
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.