Asian American Women's Popular Literature: Feminizing Genres by Pamela Thoma

By Pamela Thoma

Popular style fiction written through Asian American ladies and that includes Asian American characters received a marketplace presence within the past due 20th and early twenty-first centuries. those “crossover” books—mother-daughter narratives, chick lit, detective fiction, and nutrients writing—attempt to bridge ethnic audiences and a broader examining public. In Asian American Women's renowned Literature, Pamela Thoma considers how those books either depict modern American-ness and give a contribution seriously to public discussion approximately nationwide belonging.
Novels similar to Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan’s China Dolls and Sonia Singh’s Goddess for Hire, or mysteries together with Sujata Massey’s Girl in a Box and Suki Kim’s The Interpreter, reveal Asian American women’s ambivalence concerning the trappings and prescriptions of mainstream American society. Thoma indicates how those writers’ works handle a few of the pressures on ladies to regulate their roles on the subject of relatives and finances—reconciling the calls for of labor, buyer tradition, and motherhood—in a neoliberal society.

A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative.

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2 As overlapping and feminized domains, motherhood and consumer culture are popularly regarded in the contemporary United States as empowering and transformative, promising to positively regenerate the individual, the family, and the nation but also needing careful self-discipline, since they depend upon women’s labor, paid and unpaid, material and affective. Neoliberal maternal discourse offers an important site for understanding changes in belonging and specifically the biological imperatives of gendered cultural citizenship, because the “reproduction of society takes place constantly through countless reiterative practices, many of which are structured as simultaneously productive and consumptive in nature” (Franke 189).

3 As part of NMD, the mother-daughter narrative in the hands of Asian American women writers has been important both in affirming the cultural citizenship of Asian American women and in articulating its limits, contributing insight into contemporary reformulations of citizenship that insist on recycling national myths of Americanness. asian american mother-daughter narrative ╇ /╇ 41 Neoliberal Maternal Discourse and Cultural Citizenship In addition to witnessing the politics of woman’s discipline to the norms of proper motherhood, it is important to recount this moment as a case study in the process of nation formation and its reliance on manipulation of the identity form to occlude the centrality of reproduction to the processes by which the nation rejuvenates itself.

These scholars consider the field a form of critique that continually redefines the political, a framework that well serves the challenge of understanding the contemporary reformulation of citizenship. As Leslie Bow observes, Asian American women’s literature operates as a site “where questions can be posed about the gendered relationship of the individual to the state, about the status of the subject defined by group affiliation, and about exclusions that produce national unity” (35). Although Asian American studies initially saw little value in popular culture, even when produced by Asian Americans, the deconstruction of images created a base upon which inquiry could maintain connections to earlier priorities and build: “By examining these images in the historical specificity of their production, circulation, and consumption, scholars and critics have demonstrated the salience of popular culture as a realm of political conflict and an important force in shaping the material and social realities, but also the imaginative inner lives, of Asian Americans” (Nguyen and Tu 6).

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