The Children of 1965

On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American

The Children of 1965

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 13 illustrations, 7 figures Published: May 2013

Author: Min Hyoung Song

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Since the 1990s, a new cohort of Asian American writers has garnered critical and popular attention. Many of its members are the children of Asians who came to the United States after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 lifted long-standing restrictions on immigration. This new generation encompasses writers as diverse as the graphic novelists Adrian Tomine and Gene Luen Yang, the short story writer Nam Le, and the poet Cathy Park Hong. Having scrutinized more than one hundred works by emerging Asian American authors and having interviewed several of these writers, Min Hyoung Song argues that collectively, these works push against existing ways of thinking about race, even as they demonstrate how race can facilitate creativity. Some of the writers eschew their identification as ethnic writers, while others embrace it as a means of tackling the uncertainty that many people feel about the near future. In the literature that they create, a number of the writers that Song discusses take on pressing contemporary matters such as demographic change, environmental catastrophe, and the widespread sense that the United States is in national decline.


“Applying an impressive battery of data from social studies, Song deftly moves his argument toward a poststructuralist close reading...informed by an awareness that expectations based on the race of the author often creep into the unconscious of both writer and reader...Highly recommended.” — K.Liu, Choice

"Song's study is timely and valuable. Unfailingly engaging and generous, it places Asian American literature in a broader context and demonstrates how humanities scholars can take up the necessary task of explaining themselves to a broader public audience." — Yoon Sun Lee, Journal of American Studies

“[O]ffers a comprehensive assessment of important trends and critical concerns by a leading mind in the field, and charts a course for future inquiry. If we can imagine such a genre, it is a watershed book.” — Joseph Jonghyun Jeon, Twentieth-Century Literature

"Min Song’s elegantly written and expansive overview of the landscape of contemporary Asian American writing recalls in its scope and perspective the pioneering works of Asian American literary criticism, with the signal difference that the field of Asian American literature and the contexts in which it is read have both been dramatically transformed."  — Mark Chiang, American Literature

“[T]his book makes a valuable contribution to novel theory and should be of interest to readers intent on understanding how the big, ambitious novels of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century work.”  — Forum for Modern Language Studies

“While The Children of 1965 leaves much to be admired, indeed, can be considered a tour de force of literary criticism, it is the conclusion that is especially powerful and is the payoff for reading the monograph. Reverting away from the academic third-person voice of the previous pages, the conclusion’s first-person musings challenge literary critics to make ourselves relevant to the field that we have spent years and decades studying.” — Jennifer Ho, Journal of Asian American Studies

"[Song] lucidly weaves together appropriate invocations of criticism and theory with attentive and fine-grained exegesis of novels, short stories, and graphic novels, along with occasional author interviews he himself conducted." — Victor Bascara, American Literary History

"In this work of celebration and criticism, Min Hyoung Song charts a new path forward for engaging the latest—and the most successful—wave of Asian American literature. In addition to offering some amazing literary criticism and analysis, Song interviews some of today's most important Asian American writers to discuss their work and life. The resulting book is in equal measure a stunning work of literary criticism and a fascinating social commentary on how Asian American literature is produced and read." — Edward J. W. Park, coauthor of Probationary Americans

"Min Hyoung Song makes a persuasive case for a return to deep reading: the careful, loving attention to the literary text, couched within a social and political consciousness. He reminds us of the beauty to be found within the pages of the Asian American novel, short story, and poem, as well as of the brilliant testimony embedded in those works, evidence of the experiences of both the children of 1965 and their parents. Song's ambitious book not only surveys the growing field of contemporary Asian American literature, but is itself a milestone in Asian American literary history." — Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Min Hyoung Song is Associate Professor of English at Boston College. He is the author of Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, also published by Duke University Press, and editor of the Journal of Asian American Studies.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. "We All Have Our Reasons" 1

Part I. Impositions of Form

1. Theorizing Expectations 29

2. The Trope of the Lost Manuscript 59

3. Not Ethnic Literature 81

4. American Personhood 104

Part II. Lines of Flight

5. Comics and the Changing Meaning of Race 127

6. Allegory and the Child in Jhumpa Lahiri's Fiction 152

7. Becoming Planetary 179

8. Desert–Orient–Nomad 197

Conclusion. World-Making 220

Acknowledgments 239

Appendix. Contemporary Asian American Literature 101 241

Notes 245

Works Cited 261

Index 271
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5451-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5438-3
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