Shawn Hsu Wong Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In the middle of the 1970’s Shawn Wong made two major decisions; to begin the Before Columbus Foundation and to remove himself from his California roots and form his future along the misty shores of Puget Sound, near the University of Washington. The Before Columbus Foundation, a group cofounded by Wong to develop multicultural literature, grew with the guidance and care of its lettered professionals. Wong and his group would later publish two anthologies, The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology and The Before Columbus Foundation Poetry Anthology. These publications honored the authors who had won the American Book Awards held by the Foundation beginning in 1980. Wong’s Foundation was a success; his reputation for boldness and creativity grew.

He sympathized with the Asian American youth in the San Francisco Bay area (the locale of Wong’s youth) who were searching for an identity. Wong grew intensely aware of his need to learn of his past to affirm his future. He attended San Francisco State University after graduating from high school across the bay in Berkeley. After two inspirational years, he returned to the Berkeley campus of the University of California to attain his B.A. in English. Three years later, in 1974, he earned his master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University. The same year, he published the anthology of Asian American literature Aiiieeeee!, coedited with Frank Chin; the cover caricature of a screaming yellow man, the stereotypical Asian, offered Wong an icon for Asian American silence. Wong’s followed his first anthology with another, The Big Aiiieeeee!, despite...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brown, Bill. “How to Do Things with Things (a Toy Story).” Critical Inquiry 24 (Summer, 1998). Discusses the representation of the material object world in Homebase.

Hsu, Ruth. “The Mythic West and the Discourse of Nation in Shawn Wong’s Homebase.” Passages 2, no. 2 (2000). Discusses regionalism, the marginalized position of minority groups, and the ideology of national myths in Wong’s novel.

Kim, Elaine. Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982. Discusses Wong’s writings and influence as an editor.

Lee, A. Robert. “Afro-America, the Before Columbus Foundation, and the Literary Multiculturalization of America.” Journal of American Studies 28 (December, 1994). An extensive review of the Before Columbus Foundation anthologies analyzes their impact on the field of multicultural literary studies.

Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia. Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Discusses Wong’s writings.