Hyphen blog is announcing a blog carnival to commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Joy Luck Club:
Help us honor and argue with The Joy Luck Club on the 20th Anniversary of its publication AND celebrate API Heritage Month in May! Send us your immigrant story in 300 words or less!
This year is the 20th Anniversary of the publication of The Joy Luck Club, the book that, for better or for worse, defined Asian America to a generation of readers, and opened up mainstream American fiction to Asian immigrant stories. (I celebrated its 15th in an essay in Issue 4.) I say “for better or for worse” because, although it was wonderful for people of my generation — who were reaching adulthood just as Joy Luck was hitting the bookstores — to finally see Asian immigrant families in fiction, the book also limited a generation of writers to a particular narrative.
We don’t all suffer an immigrant generation gap with our parents; many of us are 1.5s, and many of us are third generation or deeper; many of our parents are culturally competent in the US; most of us didn’t grow up in Chinatowns. Half of us aren’t women; we aren’t all Chinese … or Japanese, or Korean; our cultures of origin don’t always center around cooking rice, or mahjong games in the kitchen, or the insulting mistakes our white boyfriends make at the dinner table; the racism we experience isn’t always the blatant kind.
So, for a book that didn’t intend to cause all the controversy or inspire all the ambivalence it has, I can’t think of a better way to honor its birthday than to talk back. For May, Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let’s tell more stories … stories that aren’t like The Joy Luck Club at all.