Fiction/Non Fiction: Non-Fiction
One sentence summary: One of the most powerful non-fiction's I've read in a while.
Overview: "A reconking on race and the asian condition". Hong reviews life as an Asian American through her own lens; how she has viewed her own race, how the rest of America does and how those views can sometimes overlap. Her experience is hers and hers alone and she critises the grouping into "us".
Uncovering stories of Asian poets and activists, she tells their stories and explores why they never reached white audiences. She questions why Asian Americans can so often be classed as others and how they are often both complicit and illicit in America's racist history. She rejects America's need for gratitude that her family has been "allowed" to reside there, the country has shown her nothing to be grateful for.
This book is one to stop you in your tracks. Hong's style is razor sharp and it instantly pulls you into her writing. The mix of personal stories is beautifully interwined with the stories of other Asian figures that Hong recounts. She finds aspects of her life similar to theirs and weaves her own experiences in, all the while tearing down the misconceptions that there is just one way to be Asian.
The passion in her writing jumps off the page and you can't help but feel angry with her too. She unapolegtially describes how Asian Americans do as much as possible to please the white gaze, to stay hidden and not stand out enough to be scruntinised.
Lovers of Braiding Sweetgrass, Don't Touch My Hair and Trick Mirror will enjoy this one too; the essay style chapters that are laced with the author's memories and family's history mirrors these other pieces of work perfectly.
Would I read it again? Without a doubt, it was a powerful punch to the gut.
Read this? Plan to read it? I'd love to know! Let me know in the comments below.
Available for purchase as part of our Reflection box here.