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The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker Paperback – September 7, 1999
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As a second-generation Chinese-American, Eric Liu has grown up with an awkward relationship to race and ethnic identity. He can follow a conversation in Chinese, although he would have problems if he tried to take part in it; as for the written language, he is functionally illiterate. He would be the first person to question which of his personality traits are "Chinese" or "American," "Asian" or "white," or none of the above, and The Accidental Asian is, in fact, a rigorous self-examination--not merely about the costs and benefits of assimilation, but about whether assimilation should even be viewed in those terms.
Whether he's recalling his adolescent frustration with "Chinese hair" that just wouldn't permit itself to be styled, examining the history of Chinatown, or pondering the mixture of fear and fascination with which China is viewed by Americans, Liu writes with admirable personal intensity. It doesn't matter whether you consider The Accidental Asian to be a memoir or a batch of interconnected essays; once you've read it, you will be forced to consider for yourself what place, if any, race has in America today (but even more so tomorrow). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This was a touching book, full of grace and wisdom, and it held great personal significance for me. Thank, you, Mr. Liu.
Additionally, I had the great good fortune to hear him speak at the University of Tennessee recently, when he was a guest at a Freshmen Gathering called 'Adventures of the Mind'. All in-coming freshmen were required to read this novel. He spoke of the students being 'second generation' people: away from their homeland, learning a new language (of college, the academic world), of making new friends, etc. Then he touched on opportunities; questioning one's own values; finding one's niche in the world... all themes in his book.
I especially enjoyed THE ACCIDENTAL ASIAN, purchased through Amazon Books, and look forward to read more of Eric Liu's writing, now that he is in his forty's.
Stop looking for ways to victimize yourself because this book isn't about YOU as a white person.
Liu talks about white White America shaped him as he grew up.
How he wanted to fight those stereotypes.
How America should no longer be White.
What a lot of white people (just the ones who hate it when minorities get a chance to speak) miss is that when all we want is a chance to be just American.
All we want is a chance to be able to be express our culture while also being American.
It's always Chinese-American. Japanese-American.
And yet Irish-Americans are allowed to just be Americans?
All we want is to be able to express ourselves without being tied down to strictly Asian-Ameicnas because guess what? Asians who are American, but don't express their Asian culture should be able to just identify as American.
They should be able to do so without stereotypes.
This book talks about how there's injustice, but it also talks about how Liu fought it in his own way.
If it a way I would've done it? No.
But does he have a lot of good points about how America is?