Begin Here: Reading Asian North American Autobiographies of Childhood
An analytically innovative work, Begin Here widens the current critical focus of Asian North American literary studies by proposing an integrated thematic and narratological approach to the practice of autobiography. It demonstrates how Asian North American memoirs of childhood challenge the construction and performative potential of national experiences. This understanding influences theoretical approaches to ethnic life writing, expanding the boundaries of traditional autobiography by negotiating narrative techniques and genre and raising complex questions about self-representation and the construction of cultural memory. By examining the artistic project of some fifty Asian North American writers who deploy their childhood narratives in the representation of the individual processes of self-identification and negotiation of cultural and national affiliation, this work provides a comprehensive overview of Asian North American autobiographies of childhood published over the last century. Importantly, it also attends to new ways of writing autobiographies, employing comics; blending verse, prose, diaries, and life writing for children; and using relational approaches to self-identification, among others.
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adult afﬁliation Amer Amerasians American autobiography American writers argue articulated Asian Canadian Asian North American authors autobiographies of childhood autobiography Barry’s becomes biraciality Cambodia chapter child China Chinatown Chinese Chinese American Chinese Canadian Choy comics context creative critical cultural memory Cultural Revolution deﬁnes difﬁculty discourse Elaine enacted engage ethnic autobiography experience explains family’s father Fenkl ﬁgure Filipino ﬁnd ﬁrst genre girl ican identiﬁcation identity immigration individual Jade Snow Jade Snow Wong Japanese Khmer Rouge Kim’s Korean Lau’s liminality literary lives mainstream Mehta’s memoir mixed race model minority mother narrates narrative negotiate Nguyen North American Childhoods notes ofﬁcial paradigms parents past perspective political position racial reader recounts representation Reyes role sense signiﬁcant signiﬁcantly social speciﬁc story strategy structure struggle texts Tham’s tion traditional traumatic tropes Ung’s Wayson Choy Wong Wong’s writing Yoshiko Uchida
Page 15 - Caribbean identities always have to be thought of in terms of the dialogic relationship between these two axes. The one gives us some grounding in, some continuity with, the past. The second reminds us that what we share is precisely the experience of a profound discontinuity: the peoples...