Donald Duk

Frank Chin, Author Coffee House Press $13.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-918273-83-3
The eponymous narrator of this first novel, which bulldozes stereotypes about supposed Chinese timidity and passivity, isn't a cartoon character but a smart 12-year-old Chinese-American boy who, with all the vehemence and certainty of youth, spits on everyone and everything Chinese. Although his female characters are underdeveloped and often the humor is broad and seems to exclude its audience, Chin's descriptions are acute and gifted, vivifying the virtuoso technique of Donald's father, who fashions 108 model airplanes--named for Chinese outlaw heroes--that he plans to launch and set afire during the Chinese New Year celebration, and Donald's nighttime dreams, which cast him as an underaged railroad builder in 1869 California, one of 1200 unheralded Chinese workers. The New Year festival in San Francisco's Chinatown becomes Donald's rite of passage and doorway to self-acceptance and -respect; Donald and the reader find themselves on an odyssey that is at once stinging and seductive, reclaiming the exquisite myths of a beautiful and proud ancient civilization. Chin wrote the short-fiction collection The Chinaman Pacific this is correct/pk & Frisco R.R. Co. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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