Encyclopedia of Diasporas

2005 Edition
| Editors: Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, Ian Skoggard

Chinese Diaspora Memoirs in the United States

  • King-fai Tam
Arts in Diasporas
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-29904-4_33

Defining the Scope

Although the first Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States as early as 1785 (Pan, 1999, p. 26) and the earliest diasporic memoir written in English, Yan Phou Lee’s When I Was a Boy in China, was published in 1887 (Ling and White-Parks, 1995, p. 1), the writings of the Chinese diaspora did not receive wide attention until the 1980s, when the sudden proliferation of memoirs written by new Chinese immigrants created something of a minor commercial success in the publication world. The great majority of these authors are women, who came to settle in the United States after living through years of political hardship in China. By the late 1990s, the genre became defined by the “Chinese pain,” referring to the endless human suffering depicted in these memoirs, and, according to some literary agents, a code word and a selling point of the manuscripts produced by many aspiring diasporic memoirists (Lovell, 2003). The term “Chinese diasporic memoirs,” however, needs...


Cultural Revolution Collective Memory Chinese Immigrant English Reader Master Narrative 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • King-fai Tam

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