Chinese American literary representations of twentieth-century Chinese history and the transpacific immigrant experience bring us into contact with a number of events that seem to have taken place at a time when things were very different from what they are today: China’s Republican Revolution, World War II, the Communist Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. From the vantage point of the post-Cold War world and the digital age, these historical events recall the conditions that inspired many people from China to dream about making their way to the New World. Facilitating remembrance, literary representation can also reaffirm the idea of the American Dream by suggesting that living conditions in Asia are impoverished compared to the plenitude of America. As late as 2011, Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy repeats the motif of return to the ancestral homeland, reinforcing, yet once again, the American Cold War perspective on the PRC from the 1950s through the 1980s. This perspective lends support to the familiar narrative of the Asian immigrant dream of America.
KeywordsCultural Revolution Great Leap Gold Rush Beijing Olympic Game Communist Revolution
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- 1.Yiyun Li, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (London: Fourth Estate, 2010), 204–21. All subsequent citations to Li’s short stories are to this edition and will be cited as GB.Google Scholar