What do you want to see in books with an Asian American protagonist?
Here are some individual thoughts on what we’d each like to see in books with an Asian American protagonist.
A character who just happens to be Asian-American. Why does race always have to be the point of the book? I want to read about a character:
1. whose family has lived in America for more than two generations;
2. who is not discriminated against or bullied because of their race;
3. who is not ashamed of their heritage/culture;
4. whose purpose in the book is not to “discover” their heritage in order to impress someone or by traveling to the mother country;
5. whose parents do not oppose them dating a haole(white) guy, or a Chinese girl, or basically anyone whose family was originally from another country. Don’t Asian-Americans have the highest rate of interracial marriage in the country?
It’s hard enough finding a book that meets just one of these points. How long will I have to wait for a majority of books meet all five?
Jolene would like to see:
a.) Who is not sexually stereotyped in these ways:
1.) Not repressed
2.) Would like to see more diversity in sexuality in Asian characters. Asian American authors rarely address homosexuality, bi-sexuality, or transgender in their protagonist’s development. (Only books I think of that express these ideas are Margaret Cho’s autobiographies.)
b.) Would like to see more Asian characters in a fantasy fiction genre(other than Kung-Fu Master or Samurai Master.) Where are the Asian fairies, vampires, werewolves, magicians, or witches?
c.) Would also like to see characters in typical teen stereotypes like: Punk, Headbanger, Goth, or even Country/cowboy-cowgirl. (Other than Asian characters trying to be All-American by joining the Cheerleading Squad or Sports team, or being a great musician.) I remember reading the “Pen Pals” series by Sharon Dennis Wyeth and one of the main characters was Asian, and she had an obsession with Joan Jett.
Gayle would like a protagonist:
1. Who uses cultural references without qualifying them;
2. Who feels comfortable in his/her skin, hair, eyes;
3. Who is not ashamed of his/her parents;
4. Has real character flaws and not only those of stereotypes;
5. Is a librarian or aspires to be a librarian.
So all you writers out there, we’ve made it easy for you with our laundry list. With that said, we’d better start working on own next great Asian American novel.