Frank Chin Additional Biography

Biography

Frank Chew Chin, Jr., was born a fifth-generation Californian of Chinese American parentage on February 25, 1940, in Berkeley, California, near Oakland, where his parents lived and worked. During his infancy, his family sent him to the sierra, where he was cared for by a retired vaudeville acrobat and a silent-film bit player. After World War II, he rejoined his family and grew up in the Chinatowns of Oakland and San Francisco, attending Chinese as well as English schools. During these years, he identified closely with his father, who was prominent in Chinatown governance and who became the president of the Six Companies (roughly the Chinatown equivalent of being elected mayor). Chin was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where he won several prizes for fiction writing; during his student years, he undertook the adventure of traveling to Fidel Castro’s Cuba. In 1961, he was awarded a fellowship at the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

After leaving Iowa, Chin spent some time with the Southern Pacific Railroad, becoming the first Chinese American to work as a brakeman on the rails laid by his forefathers. Chin left the railroad company to become a writer-producer for KING-TV in Seattle, and several of his shows were aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and on Sesame Street.

Chin left Seattle to teach Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and the University of California,...

(The entire section is 433 words.)

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Best known for his drama, Frank Chew Chin, Jr., belongs to the vanguard of the Asian American writers who began to publish in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Appearing on the literary scene in the wake of the Civil Rights movement and the African American arts movements, Asian American writers of Chin’s generation differed from most of their predecessors in that they depicted characters, situations, and sentiments that exploded the majority of white stereotypes of Asian Americans. Chin’s generation sought to establish a more realistic, less sentimentalized image of Asian Americans, with their strengths and weaknesses unvarnished, their joys and sorrows revealed, and their humanity unmitigated.

Born in Berkeley, California, Frank Chin grew up in the Chinatowns of Oakland and San Francisco. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, winning several prizes for fiction writing. In 1961, he earned a fellowship to the writers’ workshop at the University of Iowa. After Iowa, Chin worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad; he was the first Chinese American brakeman on the rails laid by his forefathers. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1965. Chin left the railroad company to be a writer-producer for KING-TV in Seattle, airing several shows on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), including Sesame Street. Chin left Seattle to teach Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Davis. With a group of scholars, he organized the Combined Asian American Resources Project (CARP), which collected materials now housed in the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. CARP has since been responsible for the publication of key Asian American texts by the University of Washington Press. In 1972, Chin founded the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco with the support of the American Conservatory Theater (where he has been a writer-in-residence). He became the workshop’s artistic director in 1976.

Chin’s earliest recognition came in the form of awards for his often anthologized short stories, many of which are gathered in The Chinaman Pacific and Frisco R.R. Co. Several of Chin’s stories are set in Chinatown, San Francisco, and are dominated by themes of decay, death, and the lack of communication between Chinatown and white society as well as between the different generations of Chinatown dwellers.

Chin has published numerous essays, mostly literary or social commentaries (sometimes verging on diatribes) that seek to clarify Asian American history and dispel the stereotypes of Asian...

(The entire section is 1085 words.)