Don Lee's struggles as a Korean American author seem to mirror those of other "hyphenated Americans," trying to break free of molds often defined by stereotypes of their nationalities. In an age where "post-racial" has become a buzzword, why does it still seem important for authors of certain stripes to strictly color within the lines? Should an author of mixed heritage write only about the immigrant experience?
To answer these questions, or at least to begin a discussion, Lee features the lives of three Asian American artists in his novel The Collective
. The narrator, Eric Cho, is a third-generation Korean American who grew up in Mission Viejo, California, largely free from any discrimination that he could notice. The driver of the story, Joshua Yoon (Meer) is a "1.5" - a Korean American adoptee born in South Korea and brought up by two Jewish professors in...
Beyond the Book
In The Collective
, the characters Eric Cho, Joshua Yoon, and Jessica Tsai form a shaky coalition called the 3AC - Asian American Artists Collective. A similar organization was founded in New York around twenty years ago: The Asian American Writers' Workshop.
This non-profit organization works to spread the growth of literature by Asian American writers, remove cultural stereotypes, and promote a dialog that values the place of Asian Americans in contemporary American society.
The workshop got its beginnings when nearly a half-dozen...