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Andrew Fukuda: I worked for a few years with immigrant teens in Manhattan's Chinatown. What really struck me was how acutely they felt isolated from society at large. Shoved out of the way, really. And they shared a real disenchantment with America. One Sunday, a group of us--we were traveling in upstate New York--decided to attend church. It turned out to be an all-white church and I still remember the cold looks of suspicion and icy stares cast our way throughout the service. Just because we were Chinese, just because we looked different. Those cold stares haunted me for a long time afterward. It got me thinking: what if an immigrant teen had to grow up all alone in this kind of community? And what if something terribly, mysteriously awful started to happen in that community?
The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre at the hands of Seung-Hui Cho added urgency to my writing. I feel that Asian American males have often been dealt an unfair hand by the media, and I was afraid of a backlash, afraid that we might get typecast as raging, hate-filled, gun-toting campus killers. For weeks after, I attacked the manuscript with renewed fervor and purpose, determined to add more dimensionality to Xing's character. Realistic complexity and nuance in characters, after all, kill stereotypes.
Question: In what way is Crossing different from the typical immigrant novel?
Andrew Fukuda: I wanted to depart from what we usually see in immigrant novels: instead of cloying and clichéd scenes of family meals, flowery mother-daughter relationships, and cathartic returns to the motherland, I wanted to layer questions of identity and ethnicity over a thriller plotline. In Crossing, this immigrant theme is propelled forward by the suspense generated in the ever-deepening mystery of the disappearances. This fusion of themes was a blend of my background: as an Asian American I was able to add depth to the ethnic theme; as a criminal prosecutor, I was able to develop nuances in the mystery aspect of the novel.
Question: Did you read much while growing up? Which writers capture your attention and imagination?
Andrew Fukuda: My parents--both university professors--encouraged me and my two brothers to read early on. Books lay everywhere at home. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I became a voracious reader. I was especially drawn to stories dealing with displacement, where characters suddenly find themselves in an alien environment with all previous reference points and cultural markers gone. Early on, that meant reading a lot of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov. Now it means more Kazuo Ishiguro, Paul Yoon, and, of course, Jhumpa Lahiri. Reading (and rereading) her works is like a religious experience for me.
A very tragic story of a geeky, Asian, adolescent trying to fit into an American small town High school. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Lucy
This book is really about the experience of being caught between two cultures. Interesting to read but ends rather inconclusively.Published 1 month ago by Cognitive Scientist
A good read. I enjoyed the perspective of an immigrant child. Sad but true.Published 2 months ago by P. Hollingsworth
The story of a shunned adolescent--part of today's mean kids kultur--is tightly written, credible, but what a finale and what leads up to it! Read morePublished 3 months ago by Eudora
I was so moved by this book that I haven't fully recovered ! A 10-star if there was one ! Congratulations Mr. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Pauline Kaldelli
A story of a Chinese immigrant who has difficulty assimilating into American society. He feels rejection from elementary grades through high school. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Janesmcdowell
Great character development and touching story. I enjoyed this book very much. The ending was an unexpected and refreshing break from today's typical neatly wrapped up novel.Published 4 months ago by BBB
Fukuda is skilled at describing settings, emotions, facial expressions. I was hooked early in the book and could hardly stand to put it down by the halfway point. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Darlene