Hapa Girl: A Memoir

Hapa Girl: A Memoir

Temple University Press
March 2007
232 pages
5.5×8.25, 12 halftones
Paper EAN: 978-1-59213-616-2 (ISBN: 1592136168)
Cloth EAN: 978-1-59213-615-5 (ISBN: 159213615X

May-lee Chai

  • Named one of the Notable Books in the Kiriyama Prize, 2008
  • Honorable Mention at the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards, 2007

A vivid depiction of the racism suffered by a mixed-race family in rural South Dakota

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.”

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Wearing of the Green
Chapter 2: The Sexy Artist Meets the Boy From New York City
Chapter 3: How to Charm a Mother-in-Law
Chapter 4: California Dreamin’
Chapter 5: The Banana
Chapter 6: The Banana’s Revenge
Chapter 7: Autumn in the Country
Chapter 8: Hunting Season
Chapter 9: The Little Things
Chapter 10: The Closet
Chapter 11: My Last Confession
Chapter 12: Bugs
Chapter 13: The Fall of the Prince
Chapter 14: The Jade Tree
Chapter 15: The Nights of Many Prayers
Chapter 16: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Chapter 17: Stephen King High
Chapter 18: Barbarians
Chapter 19: Glamour Puss
Chapter 20: The Cannibals
Chapter 21: The Fine Art of Denial

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