12 Books About Coming of Age as an Asian American

For now, at least, the immigrant narrative endures as the most legible depiction of the Asian American experience. You’ve heard this one before: the first generation struggles (but mostly successfully), the next one triumphs (but mostly ambivalently, with not a few pungent lunchbox casualties). On TV and in our book clubs, we now have what can feel like such an embarrassment of this genre of Asian American storytelling that we are right to grow a little weary; it feels at times like we’ve been assimilating forever. Isn’t there more to the story? Still, I find these narratives worthy of both our examination and a certain deal of luxuriation. If we are to understand Asian American culture as a complex, often self-contradictory project now reaching a kind of coming-of-age of its own over the past few decades, one day, it will make sense why we were first so preoccupied with these origin stories. Visibility is a tricky thing to value—you can roll your eyes at it, confuse your personal ascent with it, trot it out in boardrooms for a variety of suspect agendas—but you can’t ignore its role as a lightning rod for our sense of connective survival.
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See the source list and commentary at electricliterature.com