A Chinaman's Chance
One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream
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In many ways, Chinese Americans today are exemplars of the American Dream: during a crowded century and a half, this community has gone from indentured servitude, second-class status and outright exclusion to economic and social integration and achievement. But this narrative obscures too much: the Chinese Americans still left behind, the erosion of the American Dream in general, the emergence -- perhaps -- of a Chinese Dream, and how other Americans will look at their countrymen of Chinese descent if China and America ever become adversaries. As Chinese Americans reconcile competing beliefs about what constitutes success, virtue, power, and purpose, they hold a mirror up to their country in a time of deep flux.
In searching, often personal essays that range from the meaning of Confucius to the role of Chinese Americans in shaping how we read the Constitution to why he hates the hyphen in "Chinese-American," Eric Liu pieces together a sense of the Chinese American identity in these auspicious years for both countries. He considers his own public career in American media and government; his daughter's efforts to hold and release aspects of her Chinese inheritance; and the still-recent history that made anyone Chinese in America seem foreign and disloyal until proven otherwise. Provocative, often playful but always thoughtful, Liu breaks down his vast subject into bite-sized chunks, along the way providing insights into universal matters: identity, nationalism, family, and more.
Praise For A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream…
This is vintage Liuso lively, thoughtful, right-thinking, and beautifully put as to itself suggest the truth of his argument: to the extent that Chinese Americans thrive, America will thrive. Bravo!” Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing and Typical American
"Eric Liu brilliantly mines the history and experiences of Chinese Americans to draw insights into the current relationship between China and America, and to chart a course for the future. Whip-smart, enlightening, and always entertaining, Liu blends the personal and the socio-political to explore how we as Americans see the world, and each other." David Henry Hwang, Tony awardwinning playwright, M. Butterfly
In this provocative book, Liu, once a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, effortlessly connects his personal experience to larger historical and cultural trends. These elegant essays contain at their core a passionate, well-reasoned argument for the value of both cultures from which Chinese Americans come and an appreciation of the unique blend that results. ... Liu has created the go-to source for anyone interested in the place Chinese Americans have had, currently have, and are pursuing in the US.”Booklist
A Chinaman's Chance makes the personal politicaland historicalin the most elegant possible way. Eric Liu's memoir is intimate and also encompassing; it is of this twenty-first-century moment but also part of the centuries-long process of America reinventing itself by incorporating new Americans. It is an important and enjoyable addition to the literature of ethnic diversity, struggle, and success in the United States."James Fallows, The Atlantic
"Liu's ability to so neatly capture the complexities of cultural identity on both deeply personal and more global levels is what makes this book shine. As Liu considers Chinese cultural, spiritual, and linguistic history, personal lore, and more than a century of American Sino-stereotyping, he guides us to see just how our everyday views of 'they' and 'I' are formed ... and how they change.”Seattle Times
To say that someone has no chance at all is to say that he doesn't have a Chinaman's chance.' That is the irresistible title of Liu's new book, A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream. The story is about the past, present, and future of one family, but it also illuminates much about the Chinese-American experience.”San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday
"The book is less a memoir than a meditationrich, thoughtful, and ultimately optimisticon American-ness, Chinese-ness, and culture itself."Boston Globe
In this vigorous, sharp book, [Liu] examines his identity against the backdrop of both Chinese and American cultures . An eloquent, thought-provoking, and timely memoir.”Kirkus Reviews
PublicAffairs, 9781610396301, 240pp.
Publication Date: February 23, 2016