hapa girl

In the mid-1960s, Winberg Chai, a young academic
and the son of Chinese immigrants, married an
Irish-American artist.

In Hapa Girl ("hapa" is Hawaiian for "mixed") their
daughter tells the story of this loving family as they
moved from Southern California to New York to a
South Dakota farm by the 1980s. In their new
Midwestern home, the family finds itself the object of
unwelcome attention, which swiftly escalates to
violence. The Chais are suddenly socially isolated and
barely able to cope with the tension that arises from
daily incidents of racial animosity, including random
acts of cruelty.

May-lee Chai's memoir ends in China, where she
arrives just in time to witness a riot and demonstrations.
Here she realizes that the rural Americans'
"fears of change, of economic uncertainty, of racial
anxiety, of the unknowable future compared to the
known past were the same as China's. And I realized
finally that it had not been my fault."

Temple University Press, ISBN: 13:978-1-59213-615-5
www.temple.edu/tempress

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* Easily labeled a coming-of-age story or a narrative about racial tensions in 1960s America, this memoir--whose title employs the Hawaiian word for mixed--is truly an homage to a loving marriage. Highly recommended for all libraries with large memoir and Asiancollections.*--Library Journal.
© May-lee Chai 2007
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