Book details

A Chinaman's Chance

One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream

By Eric Liu

  • ISBN13: 9781610396301
  • Pub Date: 02/23/2016 | Price: $14.99 / $19.50 CAN
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Trim: 5.00 x 8.00 Inches | 240 Pages
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About the Book

“A thought-provoking and sensitive exploration of what Chineseness means.” —Financial Times

"Liu's ability to so neatly capture the complexities of cultural identity on both deeply personal and more global levels is what makes this book shine. . . . [H]e guides us to see just how our everyday views of ‘they' and ‘I' are formed . . . and how they change.” —Seattle Times

“Eric Liu brilliantly mines the history and experiences of Chinese Americans to draw insights into the current relationship between China and America, and to chart a course for the future. Whip-smart, enlightening, and always entertaining, Liu blends the personal and the socio-political to explore how we as Americans see the world, and each other.” —David Henry Hwang, Tony Award–winning playwright of M. Butterfly

When Chinese immigrants first came to the United States in large numbers, they were consigned to the most thankless tasks and roles in society. Thus was born the phrase, “a Chinaman's chance”--meaning no chance at all. But today Chinese Americans embody a more complicated narrative about opportunity. In this searching, wide-ranging book, Eric Liu traces his family's history, culture, and future, and in so doing pieces together a sense of Chinese American identity—and, indeed, American identity itself. Provocative, often playful, always thoughtful, Liu considers the meaning of Confucius in modern life; the unseen role of Chinese Americans in shaping how we read the Constitution, and the made-in-the-USA notion of Tiger parenting. This book is deeply personal yet provides insights into universal matters: identity, family, and the fate of the American idea.

About the Author

Eric Liu is the founder and CEO of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including A Chinaman's Chance, The Gardens of Democracy and The Accidental Asian. Eric served as a White House speechwriter and policy adviser for President Bill Clinton. He is a regular columnist for CNN.com and a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com.

Reviews

“Equal parts contemplative and provocative, lyrical and wonkish, A Chinaman's Chance is a mesmerizing collage of childhood memories and contemporary reflections that compare and contrast China and America, and the Chinese and American dreams. As he visits the place where the waters of his Chinese ancestral heritage and his American upbringing meet, what Liu finds is two worldviews that are at once decidedly different, and uncannily similar; what he finds, ultimately, is himself, and all of the rest of us whose Chinese American identity makes us the best of two worlds, yet belonging fully to neither.” —Jeff Yang, columnist, Wall Street Journal Online

“This is vintage Liu—so lively, thoughtful, right-thinking, and beautifully put as to itself suggest the truth of his argument: to the extent that Chinese Americans thrive, America will thrive. Bravo!” —Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing and Typical American

"Eric Liu brilliantly mines the history and experiences of Chinese Americans to draw insights into the current relationship between China and America, and to chart a course for the future. Whip-smart, enlightening, and always entertaining, Liu blends the personal and the socio-political to explore how we as Americans see the world, and each other." —David Henry Hwang, Tony award–winning playwright, M. Butterfly

"Liu's ability to so neatly capture the complexities of cultural identity on both deeply personal and more global levels is what makes this book shine. … As Liu considers Chinese cultural, spiritual, and linguistic history, personal lore, and more than a century of American Sino-stereotyping, he guides us to see just how our everyday views of 'they' and 'I' are formed ... and how they change.”—Seattle Times

“To say that someone has no chance at all is to say that he doesn't have ‘a Chinaman's chance.' That is the irresistible title of Liu's new book, A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream. The story is about the past, present, and future of one family, but it also illuminates much about the Chinese-American experience.”—San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday

"The book is less a memoir than a meditation—rich, thoughtful, and ultimately optimistic—on American-ness, Chinese-ness, and culture itself."—Boston Globe

“In this vigorous, sharp book, [Liu] examines his identity against the backdrop of both Chinese and American cultures…. An eloquent, thought-provoking, and timely memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In this provocative book, Liu, once a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, effortlessly connects his personal experience to larger historical and cultural trends. … These elegant essays contain at their core a passionate, well-reasoned argument for the value of both cultures from which Chinese Americans come and an appreciation of the unique blend that results. ... Liu has created the go-to source for anyone interested in the place Chinese Americans have had, currently have, and are pursuing in the US.”—Booklist

A Chinaman's Chance makes the personal political—and historical—in the most elegant possible way. Eric Liu's memoir is intimate and also encompassing; it is of this twenty-first-century moment but also part of the centuries-long process of America reinventing itself by incorporating new Americans. It is an important and enjoyable addition to the literature of ethnic diversity, struggle, and success in the United States."—James Fallows, The Atlantic