This study explores how and why different Chinese American authors arrive at their choice of literary subject matter and what this choice reveals about the cultural politics of national identity and belonging. It analyzes the portrayal of the immigrant experience in the United States and also of countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia with their different histories, societies, and cultures. In Chinese American literature, countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are experienced as well as imagined—experienced because some authors were born in Asia and have firsthand acquaintance with life in their birth country, imagined because all representation inscribes ideological bias. For US-born authors of Chinese descent, Asia is often imagined with the help of parental stories, reading and research, and awareness of US political involvement and military activities in Asia. For naturalized Chinese American authors, Asia is the site of memories, often manifested as nostalgia or as interrogation and critique.
KeywordsChinese Immigrant Chinese Reader Immigrant Experience Chinese Descent Transnational Mobility
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