Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Jade Snow Wong 1922–

Chinese-American autobiographer.

With the release in 1950 of her autobiography, Fifth Chinese Daughter, Wong became one of the first Chinese-American women ever to be published. When her book first appeared, Wong was praised for her candid descriptions of the problems she faced growing up between Chinese and American cultures. Her parents were Chinese immigrants who raised her in strict accordance with their own upbringing, yet she experienced constant pressure to assimilate and deny her heritage. Eventually she learned that "my background as a Chinese was my particular asset, a point of distinction not to be rejected." Her resolution of the conflict between her need for her family's culture and her desire to be accepted as an American forms the core of the book. More recently she has been criticized for her reluctance to blame racist attitudes and policies for some of the hardship she and her family endured, a defense which she rejected as "false comfort … to excuse personal failure." However, her importance as a groundbreaker for Chinese-American writers cannot be denied. Although Fifth Chinese Daughter achieved popular success and was translated into several languages, Wong's primary occupation has been as a potter. She has published only one other book, No Chinese Stranger, a volume of memoirs covering the second twenty-five years of her life.