cover image The Loneliest Americans

The Loneliest Americans

Jay Caspian King. Crown, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-57622-8

In this searing treatise, Kang (The Dead Do Not Improve), a writer-at-large for the New York Times Magazine, examines what it means to be Asian “within the narrative of a country that would rather write you out of it.” Through personal anecdote and extensive reporting, he illuminates how, in the United States where, he writes, the racial binary is white and Black, Asians face a “loneliness that comes from attempts to assimilate, whether by melting into the white middle class or by creating an elaborate, yet ultimately derivative, racial ‘identity.’ ” A first-generation Korean American, Kang is refreshingly candid in his analysis, addressing how immigrants who come from Asia lack the intrinsic solidarity that has been foisted upon them—either by American ignorance or well-intentioned, but often misguided, activist efforts. He adds texture to this sentiment by making the historical personal, detailing his experience as the son of two North Korean refugees who moved to the United States in 1979. But his story is secondary to a larger cultural interrogation, as he deconstructs the “blinkered optimism” of the Asian immigrants who came to America after the passing of 1965’s Hart-Celler Act, and scrutinizes the reddit thread MRAZNs (Men’s Rights Activist Azns). This excellent commentary on the Asian American experience radiates with nuance and emotion. (Oct.)