In the study of Asian American literature, the issue of authenticity is as problematic as the definition of “Asian American.” While the racial boundary of the Asian American community is historically and geographically delineated by the origins of its immigrants and ontologically dictated by a common struggle for dignity and social justice, Asian American literature’s cultural configuration is a subject of controversy. For example, The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese and Japanese American Literature, edited by Chinese American writer and critic Frank Chin and others, was published in 1991, and the selections chosen for the anthology are as controversial as Chin’s introductory article, “Come All Ye Asian American Writers of the Real and the Fake,” in which he divides Chinese American and Japanese American writers into two groups: Asian American authors and Americanized Asian authors.
Chin posits that only those Asian American writers who are not susceptible to Christian conversion and who uphold traditional Chinese and Japanese values such as Confucianism, the Japanese sense of honor, and the samurai sense of nobility can be considered the “real” voice in Asian American literature. This group includes Chinese American writer Louis Chu (Eat a Bowl of Tea, 1961) and Japanese American writers Toshio Mori (Yokohama, California, 1949) and John Okada (No-No Boy, 1957). The “fake,” according to Chin, include Chinese American writers such as Pardee Lowe (Father and Glorious Descendant, 1943), Jade Snow Wong (Fifth Chinese Daughter, 1950), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior, 1976; China Men, 1980; Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, 1989; and the memoir The Fifth Book of Peace, 2003), and Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, 1989; The Kitchen God’s Wife, 1991; The Hundred Secret Senses,...
(The entire section is 788 words.)