cover image My Chinese America

My Chinese America

Allen Gee. Santa Fe Writers Project (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-939650-30-6

In this perceptive, honest, and deeply probing set of essays, Gee, an English professor at Georgia College, explores the heightened self-consciousness Asian-Americans feel as a result of living in a country where American is still often conflated with white. Gee describes with quiet force his sense of being treated as an outsider despite being a third-generation citizen. He confronts media stereotypes of the “Asian prodigy,” the “model minority,” and the “typically emasculated Asian male,” as seen in encounters with people who consider his Chinese heritage variously exotic, obscure, or threatening. Masculinity, mobility, history, and the American dream of equality all take their turn under Gee’s lens, as he shrewdly navigates a culture saturated with the privilege of white America and the realities of continued segregation in the so-called New South. Whether he is reflecting on Jeremy Lin, racism, fishing, or the fragility of the aging body, Gee’s humor, insight, and voice offer the sharp reminder that “nothing can be taken for granted on a day-to-day basis for a person of color, not even in contemporary America,” but at the same time he holds out hope for a brighter “emotional human landscape” with room enough for all. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (May)