The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee by Paisley Rekdal
Observations on Not Fitting In

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When you come from a mixed race background as Paisley Rekdal does — her mother is Chinese American and her father is Norwegian– thorny issues of identity politics, and interracial desire are never far from the surface. Here in this hypnotic blend of personal essay and travelogue, Rekdal journeys throughout Asia to explore her place in a world where one’s “appearance is the deciding factor of one’s ethnicity.”

In her soul-searching voyage, she teaches English in South Korea where her native colleagues call her a “hermaphrodite,” and is dismissed by her host family in Japan as an American despite her assertion of being half-Chinese. A visit to Taipei with her mother, who doesn’t know the dialect, leads to the bitter realization that they are only tourists, which makes her further question her identity. Written with remarkable insight and clarity, Rekdal a poet whose fierce lyricism is apparent on every page, demonstrates that the shifting frames of identity can be as tricky as they are exhilarating.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Paisley Rekdal

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Paisley Rekdal is associate professor of English at the University of Utah. She is the author of three previous poetry collections: The Invention of the Kaleidoscope, A Crash of Rhinos, and Six Girls Without Pants, as well as a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee. She is the recipient of the Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series Award, an NEA Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, and the 2011–2012 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 226 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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(A long memoir of Rekdal’s sixth-grade friendship with another student—a black girl from a white foster-family whose own struggle with self and world exacts a price—edges the story into deeper waters, for example.) Her account cannot quite be considered a memoir, nor is it entirely a collection o...

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Publishers Weekly

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Traveling through America, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and China, she continually confronts the difficulty of negotiating her biracial identity and the hard truth that she ""cannot choose one identity without losing half of [her]self."" A poet (her first collection, A Crash of Rhinos, is forthcoming), R...

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