Not Just An Ethnic Writer

June 6, 2008

The New York Times Sunday Book Review takes a look at Nam Le's "The Boat" this week, a collection of stories that isn't solely about that first trip to America. Frankly, I find it refreshing. Asian American literature, and ethnic literature as a whole, shouldn't just be about the Great Immigration Story (a genre which, in my opinion, often pigeonholes us as being perpetual foreigners). It should be about all aspects of life, and all things creative.

As one of Le's characters says in the opening story, "You could totally exploit the Vietnamese thing. But instead, you choose to write about lesbian vampires and Colombian assassins and Hiroshima orphans -- and New York painters with hemorrhoids." Ditto.

To read the full NYTimes review, click here.




Thanks for linking to this review. What I really like about the review is how the reviewer points out Le's strength in writing is when Le is writing not self-consciously, not writing toward or away from anything. Ultimately, the "ethnic lit" thing or "identity lit" thing seems to take center stage in his overly conscious attempts to steer away from it. Good, complicated stuff to think about.