Thursday, February 08, 2007

typical american

Yesterday I finished reading Gish Jen's Typical American, a witty and poignant tale of Yifeng "Ralph" Chang, a Chinese man with an unrelenting desire to succeed and conquer the "American Dream." And who, comes to a point of being so hell bent about expanding his business and maximizing his profits with meaningless self-help books and modified income receipts that he is isolated and oblivious to the falling-out of his family while being the major cause of it. What engrossed me was how much Ralph Chang resemebled my own father.

I, too identified a lot with the novel, and perhaps too much with this line...
"And to be nonwhite in this society was indeed to need education, accomplishment--some source of dignity" (200).

In my opinion, it's the most telling and powerful line that expresses the struggle of Asian Americans trying to succeed, trying to fit in, and more so, (while trying not to be), eventually being typical American.

Jen is brilliant as her read contains a mixture of irony, complexity and heartache that's so true it hurts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I am taking an Asian American Studies class this quarter, specifically about Asian American Literature and Culture in Los Angeles. I have been reading a lot of books about similar topics, although we don't have to read this one. Interesting comparison to your dad.