Frank Chin Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What are some of the reasons that so many of Frank Chin’s characters hate the figure of Charlie Chan?

Discuss Chin’s portrayal of a son’s conflict with his father in one of his plays, short stories, or novels.

In what ways do racial issues affect the lives of Chin’s protagonists?

What is it that Chin has against fellow Chinese American writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan?

According to Chin’s works, what makes life especially hard for second-generation Chinese Americans?

Initially, many of Chin’s young characters rebel against all things Chinese in their lives. Why do you feel they do this, and does their attitude change sometimes?

What are some examples of Chin’s dark humor in his texts, and what effect does this humor have on you as the reader?

What part do American television serials and movies play in the lives of many of Chin’s characters?

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

In addition to his plays, Frank Chin has published a collection of short stories, the novels Donald Duk (1991) and Gunga Din Highway (1994), and numerous articles on Asian American literature and culture, some of which have been collected in Bulletproof Bandits and Other Essays (1998). He also co-edited a pioneering anthology of Asian American writing titled Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers (1974), substantially revised in 1991 as The Big Aiiieeeee!


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Frank Chin is the first Chinese American playwright to have had serious drama produced on the New York stage (at the American Place Theater) and on national television (by the Public Broadcasting Service). Having come into prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s, he represents the consciousness of Americans of Chinese descent—those born and reared in the United States, who thus have only tenuous ties to the language and culture of China.

In addition to his achievements as a playwright, Chin has garnered attention as an editor of Asian American literature, a fiction writer, and an essayist. His work has been recognized with many awards, among them the American Book Award for lifetime achievement, and several prizes and grants from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Place Theater (New York), and the National Endowment for the Arts.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Barnes, Clive. “Theater: Culture Study.” The New York Times, June 3, 1974, p. 39. A balanced review of The Year of the Dragon in performance at the American Place Theater in New York City. Barnes notes that the play has “gaps” and “lacks energy at times” but is still “interesting.” He praises the “absolutely fascinating insights” that Chin provides while dispelling stereotypes about Chinese Americans, investigating Chinese American identity, and exploring generational differences.

Chua, C. L. “The Year of the Dragon, by Frank Chin.” In A Resource Guide to Asian American Literature, edited by Sau-ling Wong and Stephen Sumida. New York: Modern Language Association, 2001. Intended for students and teachers, this essay provides an overview of the play, historical contexts, pedagogical suggestions, and intertextual linkages.

Kim, Elaine H. Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982. In chapter 6 of this essential and pioneering study of Asian American literature, Kim discusses Chin together with other writers of his generation. Kim’s focus is on Chin’s short fiction and The Chickencoop Chinaman. She analyzes the play as a forum for Chin’s ideas on Chinese American culture, identity, and manhood, ideas that are darkened by a pervading sense of futility,...

(The entire section is 621 words.)