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In American literature today, many authors from various cultures are rising above the rest to be recognized. One culture in particular is the Asian culture; whose literature up until the 1970 s was virtually unpublished (Nash 557). Asian people had to overcome many obstacles in order to be accepted as capable of having the skills to write. The Japanese encountered their greatest challenge after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. It is said that, The U. S.
government uprooted over 120, 000 Japanese Americans despite the fact that two thirds of them were citizens by birth (Nash 558). Families were given little advanced warning before they were torn from their homes and forced into brutal and unsanitary internment camps (Hsu, 2). At these camps, they were called names such as Fat Japs or Ching Chong Chinaman. Names and experiences that occurred in these camps would follow Japanese people into the future and encourage stereotypes from all people who were not of Japanese origin. Before long, society's interpretation said that Japanese people werent as capable or as smart as others. The Chinese encountered much of the same after their immigration onto U.
S. soil. They were repeatedly told by dominant whites that keeping to themselves and keeping their place was their only worth and duty in life. Therefore, the first generation Chinese spent their lives working nineteen to twenty hour days with their highest hope and goal being to escape the torment from whites. The sons and daughters of these were more determined to be worth something and dreamt of equality. They worked towards breaking away from Chinatowns and adapting to the middle class way of life (Hsu 10).
With all this taken into account, Japanese and Chinese literature was at a standstill until the third and fourth generation took the reins. When writing began to grow among the Asian people, publishing and proper recognition was ignored due to the white dominated society. As a result, many determined writers began to use a pen name to disguise their ethnicity (Hsu 11). Unfortunately the powerful words of writers lost their meaning in the translation to English.
However, through hard work, determined Asians triumphed. In 1854 a Chinese newspaper was published in San Francisco (Hsu 13). Autobiographies were the next step on the ladder. The earliest autobiography, When I Was A Boy In China by Lee Phan Hsu was published in 1887.
It dealt with daily life in China such as: food, ceremonies, and games. The theme of life in China echoed in the writings of many others. The authors believed this was the way to gain acceptance in a white, Christian society (Nash 558). The opposite was accomplished when many works failed to modify stereotypes, and rather confirmed them. The unpopularity of these autobiographies resulted in a twenty year time lapse before Asian people would attempt to write again (Hsu 10). When they did, it was greater than ever.
Authors such as Hong Kingston and Amy Tan brought an awareness that Asian people had a literature all of their own and put Asian American aspects into a mainstream U. S. culture. Amy Tan, whose name means, blessing from America, was born in Oakland, California in 1952 to John and Daisy Tan (Ducksworth 559). John Tan studied in Beijing to become an electrical engineer and Baptist minister. During WWII, before immigrating, he worked for the U.
S. information service. He immigrated to the United States in 1947 making him a first generation Chinese American. A few years after immigrating, he married Daisy Tan (the exact date is unknown). Daisy Tan, was also a first generation Chinese American who immigrated to the U.
S. in 1949. Daisy was a busy woman working nights as a vocational nurse to help with family expenses. She was the mother of three children: two sons Peter and John Junior and one daughter, Amy.
She lost her husband and her son within two years of each other; both due to brain tumors. Thinking she was cursed in America, she moved her family to Montreal, Switzerland and tried to control the lives of her children (Ducksworth 559 and Henry 370). Amy Tan completed grade school and began high school in California. After moving to Europe, where she graduated high school early, Tan enrolled in Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon 1969. After two semesters there, Tan decided to follow her boyfriend to San Jose City College in California. Once enrolled there, she changed her major from pre-med to a double major in English and linguistics and she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in that field.
After accomplishing this, she studied toward a doctorate at the University of California Santa Cruz and Berkeley. However, she dropped out of the program in 1976 to become a language development consultant for the Alameda County Association for Retarded Citizens. Setting out into the work force, Tan started her own business of drafting speeches. She had great success and acquired clients as big as IBM. Unfortunately it turned out to be too much and Tan had to start therapy for workaholics. She decided to quit the freelance and concentrate on her own works.
Tan wrote her first story called Endgame around 1985. Because of its success in the magazines, Tan wrote two sequels and titled the series Wind and Water. In 1986 she signed a contract with Sandra Djidstra. Wind and Water was renamed The Joy Luck Club, delivered to a publisher in May of 1988 and published in March of 1989. Her success continued as she wrote Kitchen Gods Wife which was published in 1991 and The Moon Lady published in 1992. (Ducksworth 559 - 562) The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tans most successful book, is a series of short stories about Chinese mothers and their American born daughters.
The book emphasizes the difference in...
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