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[LITERTURE] Frank Chin (w/Maxine Hong Kingston & Amy Tan)

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  • madchinaman
    Frank Chin 1940- (Full name Frank Chew Chin, Jr.) http://www.enotes.com/drama-criticism/chin-frank Website: http://www.frankchin.com/ - Contact Info
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2009
      Frank Chin 1940-
      (Full name Frank Chew Chin, Jr.)
      Website: http://www.frankchin.com/


      Contact Info
      Producer/Director - Curtis Choy
      email: chonkmoonhunter@...
      telephone: (503) 719-4525
      website: http://www.chonkmoonhunter.com
      Criticism and Debate
      Though Kingston's work is highly acclaimed, it has also received a great deal of criticism, especially from the Chinese American community. American playwright and novelist Frank Chin has severely criticized Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, claiming that she had tainted the purity of Chinese tradition in reinterpreting stories and myths. Chin has accused Kingston of "liberally adapting [traditional stories] to collude with white racist stereotypes and to invent a 'fake' Chinese-American culture that is more palatable to the mainstream."[5] Kingston commented on her critics' opinions in a 1990 interview, in which she stated that men believe that minority women writers have "achieved success by collaborating with the white racist establishment," by "pander[ing] to the white taste for feminist writing... It's a one-sided argument because the women don't answer. We let them say those things because we don't want to be divisive."[6]


      Chin has played an important role in the development of Asian American literature. In his plays and other works, Chin has sought to overthrow the demeaning stereotypes imposed on Chinese Americans by white society. In The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon he presents characters who struggle with the history (written from the perspective of white culture) of Asians in the United States, and who strive to forge an essentially American identity that nevertheless recognizes their cultural roots.

      Chin was born in Berkeley, California, and was raised in the Chinatowns of Oakland and San Francisco. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and won a fellowship to the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa before receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1965. After graduation, he took a job with the Southern Pacific Rail-road, becoming the first Chinese American brakeman in the company's history. Chin left the railroad in 1966 and began writing and producing documentaries for KING-TV in Seattle, Washington. Chin began his dramatic career in the early 1970s, staging The Chickencoop Chinaman in 1972 and The Year of the Dragon two years later. Both plays were produced off-Broadway by the American Place Theatre, making Chin the first Asian American to have work presented on a mainstream New York stage. In 1973 Chin formed the Asian American Theatre Workshop in San Francisco, and he remained its director until 1977. Since the 1980s Chin has had little involvement with theater, preferring to write fiction and essays on Chinese and Japanese history, culture, and literature. He has taught courses on Asian American subjects at San Francisco State University, the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Barbara, and at the University of Oklahoma at Norman. He has also received a number of awards and fellowships throughout his career.

      Chin's best-known plays, The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon, were staged early 1970s, and the latter was aired on PBS television in 1975. The Chicken-coop Chinaman concerns Tam Lum, a documentary film-maker in search of his own identity as a Chinese American. Tam feels alienated from both Chinese and American cultures: American born, he knows Chinese culture only indirectly, and can speak little of the language; being of Chinese ancestry, however, he is isolated from and stereo-typed by white American society. In the course of the play he lashes out verbally with wit and anger, rejecting the myths surrounding Asian Americans but finding nothing to replace them. However, as the play ends, Tam is shown preparing Chinese food and reminiscing about the Iron Moonhunter, a train in Chinese American legend, built from materials stolen from the railroad companies. Thus Chin suggests Tarn's first efforts toward building an identity based on elements of the Chinese American experience. The Year of the Dragon also focuses on the search for identity but does so in the context of a Chinese American family. In this play Fred Eng, as a tour guide to San Francisco's Chinatown, panders to stereotypes of Chinese Americans. He also plays the role of dutiful son to his father, Pa Eng, a domineering figure who is now dying. Fred longs to leave Chinatown but has sacrificed his desires in order to earn money to pay college expenses for his sister, who has moved to Boston and married a white man. Fred's younger brother Johnny, meanwhile, is descending to a life of crime. Fred wants his brother to get away from Chinatown, but Pa Eng opposes the idea. In a confrontation between Fred and his father on this issue, Pa Eng dies, never having publicly acknowledged his son's worth. The play closes with Fred still in Chinatown, continuing to play the hated role of Chinatown tour guide.

      Chin is recognized as an important voice in Asian American drama, even though he has withdrawn from active participation in the theater. Regarding his rejection of the contemporary theatrical scene, Chin has remarked, "Asian American theatre is dead without ever having been born, and American theatre, like American writing has found and nurtured willing Gunga Dins, happy white racist tokens, with which to pay their lip service to yellows and call it dues.¡­ I am out of theatre. I will not work with any theatre, producer, writer, director, or actor who has played and lives the stereotype." Such views, expressed within his plays as well as in essays and interviews, have made Chin a controversial figure. Some reviewers have been put off by the bitterness of Chin's outlook and have criticized his plays as strident. John Simon has likened Chin's plays to soap opera and censured his "tendency to attitudinize." Elaine H. Kim has detected an ambivalence on Chin's part toward his characters. In his plays, she states, "Chin flails out at the emasculating effects of oppression, but he accepts his oppressors' definition of 'masculinity.' The result is unresolved tension between contempt and desire to fight for his Asian American characters." David Hsin-Fu Wand, on the other hand, has interpreted this ambivalence as reflective of Chin's own internal conflicts: "The voices of his characters in the plays are basically the conflicting voices of his Chinese and American identities." Dorothy Ritsuko McDonald has placed this division within the context of the playwright's concern with history; Chin, she argues, possesses a "sense of Chinese American history as a valiant, vital part of the history of the American West, a history he believes his own people, under the stress of white racism, have forgotten or wish to forget in their eagerness to be assimilated into the majority culture." Chin's work, then, attempts to reverse this process, rejecting assimilation and recuperating what historically was cast off by Asian Americans: their differences from the dominant culture.


      What's Wrong with Frank Chin

      "We'come a Chinatowng, Folks!" We begin with Frank Chin in a university setting, reading from his play The Year Of The Dragon. Actor George Takei continues the same character's lines, performing
      in the PBS/Theater in America series.

      Chin mocks a television broadcast of Flower Drum Song. He sits on the floor writing at a small computer, using an unusual two-handed mouse technique as a TV and radio blare.

      His writing style is discussed and critiqued by his contemporaries. He reveals his aspirations to be an artist. In 1969, he arrives at the birth of Ethnic Studies to teach and produce guerilla theater. He begins the quest to discover other Asian American writers, culminating in the publication of the collection of AA writing, Aiiieeeee!

      In 1972, he becomes the first Chinese American playwright to have two plays produced in New York. He forms his own theater company in San
      Francisco, hoping to recreate Dublin's Abbey Theatre for a young Asian America. He is dismissed in a power struggle. In his endlessly beeping car, Chin denies using the term "sell-out", and proceeds to insult the sell-outs.

      His uniquely theatrical wedding ceremony is punctuated with a retelling of the legend of The Iron Moonhunter. Chin thanks the National Endowment for the Arts by lecturing them about race relations.

      The first Asian American Writers Conference is held in 1975, a landmark event; Chin reads as a who's who of AA writers appears. He takes on the falsification of texts as he lays into Maxine Kingston's popular novel with an intense exchange of letters. She confesses her re-invention of the heroic tradition, and we see the actual original story of the woman warrior.

      Kingston exacts her revenge by novelizing Chin into a monkey. He teaches at UCLA, and chides the class for not being able to write. The students are clearly afraid as he rants about Charlie Chan. Back on the road, Chin explains why the Chinese hate Christians. The transition to night finds us inside the D.H.Hwang Theater, where The Year of The Dragon is being performed for the first time in 20 years. He clarifies the fine points of Chinese mythology, and winds up enigmaticly wandering in a siren-filled nightscape.

      He suffers a stroke in 1999 and struggles to re-achieve fighting trim. He digs up the dirt on the Japanese American Citizens League's complicity in the roundup and encampment of American-born Japanese during World War 2, and unveils their exalted leader as a government spy.

      30 years later, Frank Chin publishes his documentary novel Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889-1947, and he reads an ominous 9/ll-relevant passage from it. A roadtrip through California gold country brings us to Chin's little-known childhood and his family's secret.



      Frank Chin is a completely original character and
      thinker. In an age of cynicism and self-interest, he
      dares to resurrect the concepts of honor and personal
      integrity, even at the expense of infamy and unsuccess.
      Selling out is not the goal, or even an option. Here,
      telling the truth is paramount.

      Chin is the son of an immigrant Chinese father and a
      4th-generation Chinatown mother. After getting his
      A.B. in English in 1966, he became the first Chinese
      American brakeman on the Southern Pacific since the
      Chinese built the Central Pacific Railroad over the
      Sierras. He went to Cuba before Kennedy's embargo,
      ostensibly in search of a flamenco guitar. He wrote
      documentaries for KING-TV in Seattle, and scripts for
      Sesame Street. The American Place Theater in New
      York mounted The Chickencoop Chinaman in 1972,
      making him the first recognized Chinese-American
      playwright, followed later by The Year of The Dragon.
      He founded a theater in San Francisco, where he
      directed until 1977. During this time, Chin continued to
      write about Chinese- and Japanese-American history
      and culture, literature and theater for magazines, TV
      and literary journals while teaching and lecturing
      throughout the country. He was the main editor of
      Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, to
      date the most influential collection of Asian American
      literature. The Big Aiiieeeee! went on to explore history
      and stereotypes. His own work is informed by the Asian
      heroic tradition found in The Three Kingdoms and
      Outlaws of the Marsh. His short stories (The Chinaman
      Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co., 1988), novels (Donald Duk,
      1991 and Gunga Din Highway, 1994), essays
      (Bulletproof Buddhists, 1999) and documentary novel
      (Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America,
      1889-1947, 2002) are still in print.

      Unlike conventional biographies, What's Wrong With
      Frank Chin does not stop within the confines of one
      man's personal details or the controversy raging over
      him during the past 35 years, but expands to explore
      the much larger implications of the literary, ideological
      and cultural changes in Asian America. Chin is
      arguably the father/godfather/ayatollah of modern
      Asian Americanism. His original and voluminous work
      will continue to be the subject of scholarly discourse
      and analysis. This documentary goes a long way to
      ensure that succeeding generations realize the
      richness of their American history.

      WWW.FrankChin is a continuous road trip. As the Old
      West countryside of California slips by, we can't help
      but admire him as a storyteller, because he's done way
      too much research and oral history to hold it all in. He's
      unafraid to lay into other writers for their
      disinformational books, and he dissects the nonsensical
      notions of pop culture.

      He goes on and on about the effeminate Charlie Chan,
      and his interviews with the white actors who played
      Chan, who thought they were sensitive and doing us a
      favor. He obsessively rants about Charlie Chan. We
      pass the Charlie Chan (!) Print Shop in Hollywood.

      In Los Angeles, Chin's play The Year of the Dragon is
      being produced for the first time in 20 years at
      East-West Players. Set in Chinatown, the story is a
      classic father-son conflict of the stature of Edward
      Albee or Tennessee Williams. Several of the cast
      members have performed this play before, but now
      they're older, and Chin is there to fine-tune the script
      and answer their questions. To do this, Chin must
      violate his oath never to set foot in a place named after
      David Henry Hwang (a writer who recast Chinese myths
      to popular acclaim). In order to make the play "real", he
      sets aside his pride to explain bits of Chinatown
      homelife trivia, and brings pictures of Chinese heroes
      that will wind up on the walls of the set. He explains the
      maligning of Fa Muklan by Maxine Hong Kingston and
      Disney, and why it is "fake".

      In a noisy restaurant, Chin has dinner with Mako, the
      play's director. He reveals that when he started the
      Asian American Theater Workshop in the early 1970s,
      he modeled it after the Abbey Playhouse in Dublin, and
      had hoped to foster a vital community of writers and
      artists. He did this in San Francisco to counter the
      actors' "mania for Hollywood".

      At home, in a small dark bedroom, books, magazines,
      and papers are piled high. Small bookcases are
      perched on tables and milkcrates, filled with more
      books, audiotapes, gewgaws, and masks. A large,
      four-engined WWII bomber hangs from the ceiling, its
      balsa wood skeleton showing. Chin sits cross-legged
      on the floor, an IMac on a low table in front of him. He's
      leaning against a daybed. There's stuff on it. The only
      chair in the room has stuff on it. The camera swings
      past an old TV and junk-littered table tops. Country
      music is on the radio, while WWII B-movies flicker in the

      Writers (and his critics) tell stories about him: Lawson
      Inada, Alan Lau, Shawn Wong, Elaine Kim, Jeffery
      Chan, King-kok Cheung, among others. The
      well-known war between Chin and Kingston, initiated on
      publication of her first book in 1976, and peaking with
      Kingston's depiction of Chin as a monkey (in her novel
      Tripmaster Monkey), has transpired without the two
      ever meeting.

      We follow him out to his wheels, a beat-up red
      econobox. It's hot and smoggy and the glare outside
      mutes all the colors. He talks about selling out and
      being uncommercial.

      So, what IS wrong with Frank Chin? He stands his
      ground on historical points. He's well-reasoned but
      passionate because he's done the deep research and
      he knows he's right. He's never credited by anybody
      for this scholarship. The "Day of Remembrance" is a
      huge event (and, now, a tradition). It is the theatrical
      antidote to decades of Pearl Harbor 'day of infamy'
      propaganda as an unheralded Chin masterminds the
      jumpstart of a redress movement that would bring token
      reparation and Presidential apologies to the unjustly
      incarcerated Japanese Americans. Then he uncovers
      the resisters, men who were unwilling to be victims and
      refused to be drafted into the US armed forces. This
      leads to the unveiling of Moses Masaoka, lionized
      leader of the Japanese American Citizens League, as a
      pro-concentration camp FBI spy.

      What's Wrong With Frank Chin? has been in the works
      for four years. It was produced with a fellowship from
      The Rockefeller Foundation, and grants from Cherry
      Sky Films, Shoshana Arai, Russell Leong, and Jean
      Lau. While some sources originate on Super8mm and
      l6mm film, 1/2" B/W and VHS videotape, most material
      was recorded to the DVCam format on a Sony PD150
      camera. Editing and finishing were accomplished using
      three versions of Final Cut Pro.


      Frank Chin

      The University Libraries have acquired a major new collection, the Frank Chin Papers that will advance scholarship in Asian American cultural studies. Acquiring this collection caps a 12-year effort of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) to secure the papers of this prolific cultural luminary. These important papers will be housed in the Special Collections Department in the Donald Davidson Library.

      Frank Chin is a UCSB graduate (1965) and is widely recognized as the most influential Asian American dramatist and writer (novels, short stories, essays) in the country. He is one of a handful of top literary figures in Asian American literary and cultural communities, and he is distinguished as being the first Asian American playwright produced in New York. He founded the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco that evolved into the Asian American Theater Company (AATC). CEMA secured the AATC archives in 1991.

      The Frank Chin Papers amount to 56 linear feet (45 boxes), and include typed and pen-corrected original manuscripts, letters, unpublished scripts, photographs and ephemera. The collection also includes files of his early involvement in the Redress and Reparations movement, even prior to that of the Japanese Americans Citizens League.

      In discussing the value of the papers, Chin remarked "I hope that my collection of research, letters and experimental manuscripts will stimulate a more traditional study of Asian American literature, beginning with an introduction to the Asian children's stories shared by China, Korea, and Japan since pre-historic times, and the "vernacular novels" developed to spread Chinese heroic tradition of the Ming, as a conscious expression of the myth of civilization throughout Asia.¡± ¡°By making my papers available to the public, I hope that my efforts to treat knowledge of Asia and America as equally important will be seen and used.¡±

      CEMA Director Sal Guerena first approached Chin in 1991 about his collection but Chin replied then with his characteristic wit that he was "not yet ready to go to that great big ethnic studies department in the sky."

      In the end, twelve years later Chin agreed that his papers should make their home at UC Santa Barbara. According to UCSB Asian American Studies librarian Gerardo Colmenar, "This unique collection will provide Asian American Scholars and other researchers with a rich source of primary materials of paramount importance to a deeper understanding of the complex nature of cultural and literary production by Asian Americans. We anticipate that this collection will bring many researchers to UCSB."

      The University Libraries are proud to be able to offer this new and important resource to advance ethnic studies scholarship and teaching.


      Maxine Hong Kingston

      Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese: œ«æÃæÃ; born October 27, 1940) is a Chinese American author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962.

      Maxine Hong Kingston was born in Stockton, California to first generation Chinese immigrants, Tom and Ying Lan Hong. Tom ( a laundry worker and gambling house owner) and Ying Lan (a practicioner of medicine)had eight children in which Kingston was the third born. She was the eldest of six children born in the United States.Her mother trained as a midwife at the To Keung School of Midwifery in Canton. Her father was brought up as a scholar and taught in his village of Sun Woi, near Canton. Tom left China for America in 1924 and entered the laundry industry; he was able to bring his wife overseas in 1939.

      From a young age Kingston was drawn to writing and won a five dollar prize from ¡°Girl Scout Magazine¡± for an essay she wrote entitled ¡°I Am an American¡±. Endeavoring to receive a higher education Kingston attended the University of California at Berkeley originally majoring in engineering, but eventually switching to English. In 1962 Kingston married Earll Kingston an actor and began a career in teaching high school. The two began a family the following year with the birth of their son Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei. After relocating to Hawaii in 1967 Maxine began writing extensively finally completing and publishing her first novel , ¡°The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood among Ghosts¡±.

      Her works often reflect on her cultural heritage and blend fiction with non-fiction. Among her works are The Woman Warrior (1976), awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and China Men (1980), which was awarded the 1981 National Book Award. She has written one novel, Tripmaster Monkey, a story depicting a character based on the mythical Chinese character Sun Wu Kong. Her most recent books are To Be The Poet and The Fifth Book of Peace.

      A documentary produced by Gayle K. Yamada, Maxine Hong Kingston: Talking Story, was released in 1990. Featuring notable Asian American authors such as Amy Tan and David Henry Hwang, it explored Kingston's life, paying particular attention to her commentary on cultural heritage and both sexual and racial oppression. The production was awarded the CINE Golden Eagle in 1990.[1] Kingston also participated in the production of Bill Moyers' PBS historical documentary, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.

      She was awarded the 1997 National Humanities Medal by President of the United States Bill Clinton. Kingston was a member of the committee to choose the design for the California commemorative quarter. She was arrested in March 2003 in Washington, D.C., for crossing a police line during a protest against the war in Iraq. In April, 2007, Hong Kingston was awarded the Northern California Book Award Special Award in Publishing for her most recent anthology, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (2006), edited by Maxine Hong Kingston.

      Kingston was arrested on International Women's Day (March 8) of 2003. Participating in an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. coordinated by women-initiated organization Code Pink, Kingston refused to leave the street after being instructed to do so by local police forces. She shared a jail cell with author Alice Walker; renowned writer Terry Tempest Williams was also a participant in the demonstration. Kingston's anti-war stance has significantly trickled into her work; she has stated that writing The Fifth Book of Peace was initiated and inspired by growing up during World War II.

      Kingston was honored as a 175th Speaker Series writer at Emma Willard School in September 2005.

      In an interview published in American Literary History, Kingston disclosed her admiration for Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, and William Carlos Williams, who have served as inspirational influences toward her work, shaping her analysis of gender studies. Concerning the importance of Walt Whitman's work, Kingston stated: "I like the rhythm of his language and the freedom and the wildness of it. It's so American. And also his vision of a new kind of human being that was going to be formed in this country¡ªalthough he never specifically said Chinese¡ªethnic Chinese also¡ªI'd like to think he meant all kinds of people. And also I love that throughout Leaves of Grass he always says 'men and women,' 'male and female.' He's so different from other writers of his time, and even of this time. Even a hundred years ago he included women and he always used [those phrases], 'men and women,' 'male and female.'" [2] Kingston named the main character of Tripmaster Monkey, Wittman Ah Sing, after Walt Whitman.

      Of Woolf, Kingston stated: "I found that whenever I come to a low point in my life or in my work, when I read Virginia Woolf's Orlando, that always seems to get my life force moving again. I just love the way she can make one character live for four hundred years, and that Orlando can be a man. Orlando can be a woman. Virginia broke through constraints of time, of gender, of culture." [3] Similarly, Kingston's praise of William Carlos Williams expresses her appreciation of his seemingly genderless work: "I love In the American Grain because it does the same thing. Abraham Lincoln is a 'mother' of our country. He talks about this wonderful woman walking through the battlefields with her beard and shawl. I find that so freeing, that we don't have to be constrained to being just one ethnic group or one gender-- both [Woolf and Williams] make me feel that I can now write as a man, I can write as a black person, as a white person; I don't have to be restricted by time and physicality."[4]

      Criticism and Debate
      Though Kingston's work is highly acclaimed, it has also received a great deal of criticism, especially from the Chinese American community. American playwright and novelist Frank Chin has severely criticized Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, claiming that she had tainted the purity of Chinese tradition in reinterpreting stories and myths. Chin has accused Kingston of "liberally adapting [traditional stories] to collude with white racist stereotypes and to invent a 'fake' Chinese-American culture that is more palatable to the mainstream."[5] Kingston commented on her critics' opinions in a 1990 interview, in which she stated that men believe that minority women writers have "achieved success by collaborating with the white racist establishment," by "pander[ing] to the white taste for feminist writing... It's a one-sided argument because the women don't answer. We let them say those things because we don't want to be divisive."[6]

      Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: National Book Foundation, 2008
      PEN West Award in fiction for Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, 1989
      National Endowment for the Arts Writers Award, 1982
      American Book Award for General Nonfiction for China Men, 1981
      National Endowment for the Arts Writers Award, 1980
      Anisfield-Wolf Race Relations Award, 1978
      General Nonfiction Award: National Book Critics Circle for The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, 1976


      Amy Tan

      Amy Tan (Chinese: ×T¶÷ÃÀ; pinyin: T¨¢n Enmei) (born February 19, 1952) is an American writer of Chinese descent whose works explore mother-daughter relationships. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her most popular fiction work, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film.

      Tan has written several other books, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter's Daughter, and a collection of non-fiction essays entitled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings. Her most recent book, Saving Fish From Drowning, explores the tribulations experienced by a group of people who disappear while on an art expedition in the jungles of Burma. In addition, Tan has written two children's books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series airing on PBS. She has also appeared on PBS in a short spot encouraging children to write.

      Tan received her bachelor's and master's degrees in English and linguistics from San Jos¨¦ State University, and later did doctoral linguistics studies at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley. [1]

      Currently, she is the literary editor for West, Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine, and did an uncredited rewrite on The Replacement Killers at the request of Mira Sorvino.[citation needed] She is a resident of Sausalito, California.

      She is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band consisting of published writers, including Barbara Kingsolver, Matt Groening, Dave Barry and Stephen King, among others.
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