Hua Hsu discusses and signs "A Floating Chinaman"
DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland welcomes Hua Hsu to the store to discuss and sign, A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific, on Sunday, October 16th at 3:00pm. Joining him in conversation will be hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang.
Who gets to speak for China? During the interwar years, when American condescension toward barbarous China yielded to a fascination with all things Chinese, a circle of writers sparked an unprecedented public conversation about American-Chinese relations. Hua Hsu tells the story of how they became ensnared in bitter rivalries over which one could claim the title of America's leading China expert.
The rapturous reception that greeted The Good Earth, Pearl Buck's novel about a Chinese peasant family, spawned a literary market for sympathetic writings about China. On the margins in Chinatowns, on Ellis Island, and inside FBI surveillance memos, a different conversation about the possibilities of a shared future was taking place.
A Floating Chinaman takes its title from a lost manuscript by H. T. Tsiang, an eccentric Chinese immigrant writer who self-published a series of visionary novels during this time. Tsiang discovered the American literary market to be far less accommodating to his more skeptical view of U.S.-China relations. His floating Chinaman, unmoored and in-between, imagines a critical vantage point from which to understand the new ideas of China circulating between the world wars and today, as well.
Hua Hsu is a contributor to The New Yorker and newyorker.com, and the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific. He has previously written for Artforum, The Atlantic, Grantland, Slate, and The Wire. His work has been anthologized in Best Music Writing and Best African American Essays, and his 2012 essay for Lucky Peach on suburban Chinatowns was a finalist for a James Beard Award for food writing. He also served on the editorial board of A New Literary History of America (2009). He is currently an associate professor of English at Vassar College and a fellow at the New America Foundation. He serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.
Jeff Chang has been a hip-hop journalist for more than a decade and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, Vibe, The Nation, URB, Rap Pages, Spin, and Mother Jones. He was a founding editor of Colorlines Magazine, senior editor at Russell Simmons's 360hiphop.com, and co-founder of the influential hip-hip label SoleSides, now Quannum Projects. He lives in California.