What Do I Read Next?
F.O.B. was Hwang's first play, first produced in 1980. Set in California, it contrasts the attitudes of recent Chinese immigrants with those who were born in America, and makes use of both Western and Oriental theatrical techniques.
Between Worlds: Contemporary Asian-American Plays, edited with an introduction by Misha Berson (1990), contains a selection of plays that includes Hwang's As the Crow Flies and The Sound of a Voice.
Asian-American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology, edited by Shawn Wong (1996), is an attractive anthology that includes essays, fiction, poetry, and drama (thirty-five pieces in all) by Asian Americans. Wong's introduction surveys the history of Asian-American literature.
Growing Up Asian-American: An Anthology, edited with an introduction by Maria Hong (1993). This collection of essays, excerpts, and short stories is about the experiences of Asian Americans growing up in America. The collection covers a wide range of topics, from first love to adolescent rebellion, and also deals with Asian-American concerns about assimilation and cultural history.
The main character in Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989) is a fifth-generation Chinese American from San Francisco whose struggle to assert his own identity reveals much of how the Chinese-American experience differs from that of white Americans.
Liaison: The Gripping Real Story of the Diplomat Spy and the Chinese Opera Star Whose Affair Inspired M. Butterfly, by Joyce Wadler (1993), examines the bizarre true story that gave rise to Hwang's play. Wadler draws on interviews with the two men involved, French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Chinese opera singer Pei Pu, and many of their friends and colleagues.
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, by Ji-Li Jiang (1998) is a vivid account of how the chaos of the Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1960s affected a young girl and her family, who lived in terror of arrest and detention. The book includes a foreword by David Henry Hwang.
For those intrigued by the way the plot of M. Butterfly hinges on spying, Nathan Miller's Spying for America: The Hidden History of U.S. Intelligence (1997) is an excellent read. It covers the history of American espionage from the earliest days of the republic to the cold war and beyond.