Charlie Chan by Yunte Huang
The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History

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Synopsis

Shortlisted for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography and the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Book: “An ingenious and absorbing book. . . . It will permanently change the way we tell this troubled yet gripping story.”—Jonathan Spence


Hailed as “irrepressibly spirited and entertaining” (Pico Iyer, Time) and “a fascinating cultural survey” (Paul Devlin, Daily Beast), this provocative first biography of Charlie Chan presents American history in a way that it has never been told before. Yunte Huang ingeniously traces Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a bullwhip-wielding detective in territorial Hawaii to his reinvention as a literary sleuth and Hollywood film icon. Huang finally resurrects the “honorable detective” from the graveyard of detested postmodern symbols and reclaims him as the embodiment of America’s rich cultural diversity. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year and a “deeply personal . . . voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of story telling” (Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times).
 

About Yunte Huang

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Yunte Huang a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of Transpacific Imaginations and Charlie Chan. Born in China, he lives in Santa Barbara, California.
 
Published August 30, 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Charlie Chan

Kirkus Reviews

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Debuting as a minor character in novelist Earl Derr Biggers’ The House Without a Key (1925), Charlie Chan attained enormous popularity through six novels and nearly 50 films, as well as radio dramas and a comic strip, creating what the author calls a “tortured legacy in American culture, a legacy...

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The New York Times

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Charlie Chan remains, in himself, a sly and delightful figure, worthy of nostalgia — and of Huang’s very original, good-humored and passionately researched book.

Sep 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Kirkus Reviews

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“On the one hand, [Charlie Chan] embodies the racist legacy of American culture, which is racial ventriloquism,” says Yunte Huang.

Dec 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Los Angeles Times

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Charlie Chan, the wise and strategically polite Chinese detective given to pseudo-Confucian aphorisms, came to life on the pages of six popular novels and flourished in a remarkable run of 47 Hollywood movies.

Aug 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Oregon Live

A few years after the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations forced many of the students who participated to leave China, Yunte Huang, a lonely graduate student in English in upstate New York, stumbled on the Charlie Chan detective series at a garage sale and became an "avid fan."

Aug 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

The portly, thoughtful Charlie Chan is a minor character in The House Without a Key (1925) but he has the gravitas and scenery-chewing presence of Sidney Greenstreet in Casablanca (or almost any other movie.) Biggers and Apana wouldn't meet until 1928, when the Chan books were deep into their pu...

Aug 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

PopMatters

The main thing you need to understand about Yunte Huang’s Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History is that the Charlie Chan books and movies are not the main subject of this book.

Sep 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

The Daily Beast

In this case, the sagely Charlie Chan, a portly, aphoristic fictional detective of once-enormous popularity, has been liberated by Yunte Huang in a major work of complex cultural archeology, Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.

Sep 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Scotsman.com

To get into character as the Chinese Detective Charlie Chan, the film actor didn't only study Mandarin and bone up on Chinese art and philosophy.

Nov 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Bookmarks Magazine

The Topic: An avid fan of the fictional Chinese sleuth, Yunte Huang explores the origins, impact, and enduring legacy of Charlie Chan, immortalized in six novels and forty-seven films.

Aug 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Book Forum

A flyer promoting a reading for Chinese-born scholar Yunte Huang's 2002 book Transpacific Displacement had a map of the Pacific Rim with a silhouette of Charlie Chan peering menacingly in the direction of North America.

Aug 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Metro

Book review: Yunte Huang’s look at Charlie Chan may spread itself too thinly but it’s still an interesting effort and worthy of a read.

Nov 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Vulture

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Jul 01 2014 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

The Fortnightly Review

Unlike Anna May Wong, a Chinese-American actor who was coldly received by Chinese audiences (for what was viewed as her indecency), the Swedish actor Warner Oland, who played Chan, was so popular in China that Chinese and Hong Kong film studios started producing knock-off versions.

Jan 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

https://chronicle.com

The year was 1998, and Huang, who had come from China to the United States as a student seven years earlier, was pursuing a doctorate in English literature at the University at Buffalo and working two tedious jobs to support himself—delivering food for a Chinese restaurant and working security at...

Oct 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Stor...

Reader Rating for Charlie Chan
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