Narratives of Adoption and San Francisco : New Geography of the Asian American Novel

So here’s something that I don’t encounter very often — an academic paper on one of my books. This one is for Love Love, and it’s like…super academic. Like it’s got an abstract and everything. Here’s the gist:

Recently, new Asian American novels are using the trope of adoption in unconventional ways. Sung J. Woo’s Love Love and Bich Minh Nguyen’s Pioneer Girl both employ the motif of adoption in their plot, yet unlike the representative Asian American literary works featuring adoption such as Gish Jen’s Love Wife, Chang-Rae Lee’s Gesture Life, and Jane Jeong Trenka’s The Language of Blood, they portray cases of homoracial, inter-country adoption. Instead of visiting the country of origin in Asia with questions of biological relatives and reasons for adoption, both protagonists travel domestically to San Francisco in order to explore their identity. San Francisco becomes an intriguing city of origin for both Asian American protagonists who walk the city as flâneur figures with a postmodern sensibility. Kevin Lee in Love Love observes San Francisco as a cosmopolitan city. Lee Lien in Pioneer Girl considers it a place of reinvention in the West. While the history of Kevin’s Korean American birth father belongs to the social and cultural history of 1970s San Francisco, and not to the ethnic histories of Asian America, the adoption mystery of Rose Wilder Lane beckons Lee Lien deeper into an American literary history. As San Francisco is marked as “origin” or “birthplace” on the map of Asian American itineraries, not as destination of Asian migrations, narratives of adoption offered by these novels suggest the changing mode of Asian American literature that interrogates and problematizes the ways in which Asian American identity and experiences are defined, represented, and imagined.

The rest is written in Korean! The journal is titled “미국소설,” which translates to American Fiction. If you happen to read Korean and want to see the whole thing, go for it!

Skin Deep Book Launch Video

If you missed the book launch and want to take a look at it, please, be my guest. I read for a bit and then we had a nice chat with a bunch of lively Q&A. Big thanks to Laura and Annie at Odyssey Bookstore for hosting me!

(I, for one, will not be watching this, since I was in it, and also, I hate my voice.)

CrimeReads: How I Stopped Worrying About The Rules And Learned To Write A Mystery Novel

Thanks to CrimeReads for featuring an essay on my journey to writing Skin Deep.

One of my greatest thrills as a college student was when I was let into the intermediate-level creative writing workshop. You couldn’t just sign up and walk in—you had to submit a short story good enough for the professor to deem you worthy. That first day, I sat around the rectangular table with my future colleagues and was handed a set of rules for the class. It’s been almost thirty years since I laid eyes on this single xeroxed sheet, but I can still remember one of them: You will not write stories about serial murderers, or even regular murderers.