So, I'm writing a research paper on Asian-American writers, and have read several works of criticism on various authors including one of my all-time favorite authors, Amy Tan. They go on and on about how Tan does this, and Tan does that, she says this, and she says that. This literary device--is a deliberate use of such such and such and such and such.
The reason I find this so funny, (albeit standard in the world of literary criticism) is that I recently read her auto-biography, The Opposite of Fate, and she humorously says, ~well, since unlike Stienbeck and others who are now dead, I am still alive and can refute literary criticism assigned to me by students and reviewers! She says she writes just for fun, writes exactly what she wants to write, does not intentionally say this or that, is not on a quest for enlightening the world about the Chinese culture, and does not feel she has to answer to the likes of Frank Chin and others who call her a sell-out and a conformist to white/dominant standards. She says she writes because if she didn't--what is inside of her would explode.
So, today sitting in the public library reading Sui-Ling Cynthia Wong's, scathing report on Tan, entitled "Sugar Sisterhood," I was told exactly what I think about, when I read Tan's novels.
According to Wong, this is what I get out of Amy Tan:
I [The American reading public], "enthusiasitic[ally] purchase [with a] pleasurable mixture of respect and voyeurism, admiration and condescension, humility and self-congratulation." And that I am allowed the position of feeling distanced, and better than Chinese-Americans, and can now segement the Chinese culture as an important source for my pleasure, and "accept and appreciate a "mythic" treatment of a remote but fascinating China." *
Maybe I am the only one that finds this quite funny, but I wrote in the margin of my photocopy,
"Oh, really! Please tell me how I am reading/ what I am getting out of my own favorite novels!"
I read Amy Tan, not to criticize or romantisize China, I read it because, well, I just like it!
*Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong, Sugar Sisterhood, The Ethnic Canon, Edited by David Palumbu Liu, Minnesota, Univeristy Press, 1995.
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