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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.
I found this book mesmerizing from start to finish. An interesting twist on the "nobody likes me because I'm different" teen angst theme, this one throws serial killing... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Gary
Good read. Never saw the ending coming! Very interesting view of how Asians are treated in our society. Would make a good movie.Published 3 days ago by Cynthia K. Downing
Nice and easy read not sure I was content with ending. I feel it was missing something. Though I did enjoy the story and it was well written it just finished odd.Published 14 days ago by Karin St. Onge-Henegar
Five star read, for readers looking for mystery and adventure. Xing is such a complex character, When I was growing up there was one black family living in my town. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Mshoarty
Yes, the theme is a bit depressing but much of life can be depressing for many people. Should we hide our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist? Read morePublished 17 days ago by Jane R.
An easy read; excellent characterization, good plot; tightly written. This is a great novel for any teen, and parents of teens. Read morePublished 20 days ago by PJH
The author has a real gift; his descriptions are wonderful and his writing is simply beautiful. I think this book should be required reading for all teenagers. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Melanie
Xing, pronounced Shing, is one of two Asian students in an otherwise all white American High School. Read more
A little on the depressing/dark side I still enjoyed it. The writting was well done in my opinion, and easy to follow and to read. I would recommend for teen readers.Published 1 month ago by ADH