An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature When the first volume of this collection of Asian American literature appeared in 1974, it showed readers the roots and the richness of Chinese American and Japanese American writing. The authors called their anthology Aiiieeeee! because that was the shout, the scream, often the only sound coming from the yellow man or woman in American movies, television, or comic books. But as that work demonstrated, the Asian American writer, long ignored and excluded from participating in American culture, has an articulate and creative voice. The Big Aiiieeeee!--an entirely new and truly comprehensive collection--brings together the earliest writings to appear in America, such as the revealing An English-Chinese Phrase Book used by the first generation of Chinese immigrants, and recent stories and essays, such as "Come All Ye Asian American Writers" by Frank Chin, about the importance of Chinese and Japanese heroic tradition. Here we all can now learn of the pain, the dreams, the betrayals, and the indelible sense of "otherness" of Americans of Chinese and Japanese descent, in a seminal collection of poetry, prose, and drama--writings filled with rage and beauty, memory and vision. "Here is a Gold Mountain of voices. In the telling and retelling of our stories, we create a community of memory. This huge collection invites all of us to become listeners and to claim America."--Ronald Takai, author of Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans
The book takes on the challenge of beginning to present some of the history of Chinese and Japanese Americans and to articulate some of the contours of possible experiences for persons of those groups. Some of the material is now a bit out of date, but still presents a compelling snapshot of perspectives at the time the book was published. The diversity of sources, writers, and perspectives provides a rounded and complex picture - perhaps the best thing that readers can take away from it is that there is no one, single, definitive experience, and two persons with similarly non-white appearances and backgrounds can have markedly different feelings and experiences of being an American. There are many cautionary tales - experiences we should feel badly about - and can learn from, going forward.
This book is a great way to become acquainted with a diversity of source material, and good launching pad for further reading. It's probably not great for someone who wants a cohesive portrait or argument or an "easy read."