Hapa Girl by May-lee Chai
A Memoir

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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."


About May-lee Chai

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Winberg Chai was born in Shanghai. He received his Ph.D. from New York University, and later became the first Asian American vice president of a state university. The author of more than twenty books on China, he is currently a political science professor at the University of Wyoming. Daughter of Winberg Chai, May-Lee Chai is the author of the novel "My Lucky Face," Her short stories have been published in various publications, including "Seventeen, "the "North American Review, "and the "Missouri Review. "A former reporter for the Associated Press, she has also taught creative writing at San Francisco State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Chai has Master's degrees from Yale University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Published March 23, 2007 by Temple University Press. 232 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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A heavy dose of bitterness keeps Chai's memoir of growing up in South Dakota with a Chinese-American father and a Caucasian mother from registering deeply.

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