Wednesday, April 20

False Advertising

this is going to make me sound like a racist.

i just had to get that caveat out of the way. if you continue to read this, don't get mad at me because you've already been forewarned.

that being said, i'm going to briefly discuss Lisa See. the acclaimed writer of various books, all centering around the Asian-American/Chinese experience and primarily female. although i'd heard about her before, i wasn't interested in reading her novels (that was a period where i wasn't doing any recreational reading aside from my law school books).  fast forward to a month ago, when asian entertainment news is going nuts over the movie version of her novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.  so i decide to check her out via Google and the one review that stands out/pushed me over the edge to actually try and read one of her books stated that she was "the Amy Tan of this generation." o really? because i really liked Amy Tan's books (for a while-then they got a little repetitive). and Joy Luck Club was just recently aired on tv again and i bawled like a baby. convinced of the merits of Ms. See, i went to the local library and checked out 3 of her books: Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and Shanghai Girls.

i haven't been able to make it past page 30 of Peony in Love. to the author's credit, it's well-written and interesting, i've just been particularly busy and it's hard to break bad habits of watching tv or going on-line.  there's also another aspect to it tho: Lisa See looks alarmingly non-Asian.

um, what?! how can she be the "next Amy Tan" when she's clearly not Chinese? granted, her novels tend to have a historical context to it and that's what historical fiction is: a lot of research and interviews to try and write fictional works based on historical facts and experiences. and, actually, she is Chinese-or at least part of her is, although my Google searching has failed to turn up exactly how much of her is Chinese and the answers provided on her website and Wiki are all sort of vague.

after i saw her picture on the back cover of Peony in Love, i couldn't get myself motivated to read it for the next 2 weeks. it felt...weird. after psychoanalyzing myself about it, i think my problem is this: the comparison of Lisa See to Amy Tan made me have a certain expectation of her as a Chinese-American dealing with the trials and tribulations and culture of growing up in a Chinese family while balancing against American culture. however, seeing her picture promptly dispelled any of these thoughts and made me immediately judge that she couldn't have had the same experiences as me because she didn't "look" Chinese.

while i'm sure she dealt with other types of issues (i've seen True Life), she's clearly not me. it took me a while but i've dispelled those expectations of her and will attempt to finish reading her book.

although i did just pick up Waiter Rant from the library...

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