Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural

Claudine C. O'Hearn, Editor
Claudine C. O'Hearn, Editor Pantheon Books $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-375-40031-5
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-375-70011-8
Prebound-Other - 272 pages - 978-0-613-23722-2
Open Ebook - 146 pages - 978-0-307-48576-2
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New Yorker O'Hearn, who was born in Hong Kong of an Irish-American father and a Chinese mother, first tells her own story--she found she could pass as Hawaiian, Italian or even Russian--then goes on to collect first-person accounts of 17 others with biracial or bicultural backgrounds who grew up in the U.S. or emigrated here. The multicultural combinations are complex and varied: a woman with a Chinese-Jamaican mother and a Chinese-American father, a man with an English father and a Jamaican mother (""They are not two shades of brown. They are black and white""), a woman with a mother from Brooklyn and a father from Bombay. Other contributors do not have a racially mixed background but write as strangers in a strange land: a South Vietnamese who escaped by boat and grew up in Southern California; a Hindu from Calcutta who attends school in America. Others reflect Mexican, Iranian and Japanese cultures. The names of some of the contributors are familiar--Gish Jen, Bharati Mukherjee, James McBride, Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Lisa See--but many are not, and although the tone throughout ranges from bitter and self-absorbed to satirical, most reveal a quiet sense of humor. Several of the entries have been published previously in anthologies or magazines. (July)
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