The accidental Asian : notes of a native speaker

by Eric Liu

Paperback, 1998




New York : Random House, c1998. First ed.


Beyond black and white, native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is here that Eric Liu, former speechwriter for President Clinton and noted political commentator, invites us to explore. In these compellingly candid essays, Liu reflects on his life as a second-generation Chinese American and reveals the shifting frames of ethnic identity. Finding himself unable to read a Chinese memorial book about his father's life, he looks critically at the cost of his own assimilation. But he casts an equally questioning eye on the effort to sustain vast racial categories like “Asian American.” And as he surveys the rising anxiety about China's influence, Liu illuminates the space that Asians have always occupied in the American imagination. Reminiscent of the work of James Baldwin and its unwavering honesty, The Accidental Asian introduces a powerful and elegant voice into the discussion of what it means to be an American.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member autumnesf
This book is written by a ABC (American Born Chinese). It was a good book to read to give me a glimpse of what it is like to not be mainstream white in our society even when you consider yourself 100% American. There is worth in reading this if you are adopting transracially. There is even a
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chapter near the end of the book where he speculated what it much be like to be an Asian adopted by white parents and how you find yourself in that case. Worth the read.
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LibraryThing member omame
i really wanted to give this book 4 or 5 stars, because there were entire passages where i felt that no one had ever understood me better than he did. i think he was much more thought-provoking and coherent when he was writing about his childhood and his relationship with his family. it was those
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passages that really catalyzed introspection and self-assessment in myself. in his short essays, i felt less convinced that he had an actual point to get across and was rarely moved. his chapter on asian americans as the "new jews" felt forced and as if he wasn't even quite convinced of his own argument.
overall, though, what he brought in the good parts of his memoir outweighed the annoyances and fluff of the rest of the book.
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