Chin: Bulletproof Buddhists Cloth

Frank Chin, Author University of Hawaii Press $21 (438p) ISBN 978-0-8248-1999-6
Whether he is writing about a trip to Cuba he took as a student during the 1960s, his visits with the inhabitants of the Chinatowns along the California-Baja California border, interviews with a white police officer in San Diego who has succeeded in reducing tensions between Cambodian and Laotian youth gangs there or his experiences at a writers' conference in Singapore, Chin tends to portray everyone, and everything, in this collection of six essays, in terms of race, ethnicity and cultural stereotypes. Chin heaps scorn not only on whites (Anglos) but also on Asians in Singapore (a city whose culture he disdains), and especially on Chinese American writers whom Chin accuses of having sold out to white American culture and values. Waving about classic texts, in particular Sun Tzu's The Art of War, he denigrates those who like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. ""They like the idea of falsifying Chinese culture in the name of art and Westernization. They are admitted and joyous white supremacists."" Throughout, Chin, who prefers to be referred to as a Chinaman rather than a Chinese American, makes references to being someone without ""a sense of home."" The problems of the ethnically displaced and the merits of cultural diversity versus assimilation are important issues. The tone of Chin's arguments against the desirability and possibility of assimilation is emotional rather than intellectual, bitterly accusatory rather than rational. Unfortunately that will probably limit his book to preachifying to the converted. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-0-8248-1959-0
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