Wikipedia is filled with information provided by users, and it gets around eighteen billion views each month. Anyone has access to editing a Wikipedia page to add in any crucial information. In the past, this has led to Wikipedia being seen as an unreliable source of information. Who knows what people are adding and if it’s even true? No one takes the time to consider that because anyone can go in and add information it means that certain subjects are sorely lacking. In response to this, Wikipedia hosts Edit-a-Thon’s to make sure the necessary information finds its way onto world wide web.
This year, the Edit-a-Thon focused on filling in the large gaps of information concerning Asian American literature. This is the second time Wikipedia is hosting an event to fill in this information. Prior Edit-a-Thon’s have focused on feminism, African art, and more. This year, the nonprofit organization Kundiman was looking to continue to build up even more on Asian American literature. In 2018, over 20,000 words were added to Wikipedia on history of authors, different Asian-American works, and on pages that just make it easier to find such.
This years event took place on May 5th from 2:00PM to 6:00PM at the Ace Hotel Boardroom. No Wikipedia editing experience was necessary, but it was a bring-your-own-computer event. Of course, it didn’t just focus on the books and authors themselves. The event focused on boosting up information on Asian American literary organizations, events, publishers, etc. They wanted to create a way where this information was more accessible to readers and writers of color who want to find themselves represented. What better time to tackle this issue than Asian and Pacific American Heritage month!
Remember last time I shared my serendipitous encounter with new novels on the morning 7 train? One book on the list is Korean American author Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel Pachinko. Well, the news has just been released that the novel is going to be adapted into TV series!
Pachinko was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for fiction and was named by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2017. Six companies fought for the rights, however in the end, the king of technology－Apple－won, and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the show will be among the most expensive in the TV series history, with a budget similar to Netflix’s The Crown.
Image via Parnassus Musing
Set in the early 20th century, Min Jin Lee describes Sunja, the poor but lovely Korean daughter of the fisherman, who, without warning, falls in love with a rich married man. When she finds out she’s pregnant and the man is married, she cuts off the relationship without hesitation, and moves to Japan with a sick but kindly diplomat. The story focuses on the tough and bloodied history of Korean immigrants in Japan.
Soo Hugh, the Korean American showrunner and screenwriter of The Terror, will take the lead on the screen adaptation, serving as the program leader and producer. The production company will be Media Res, established by Prometheus (2012)’s producer Michael Ellenberg. The TV series will be presented in Korean, Japanese, and English.
I’m glad to see more representations about Asian American communities and their histories, lives, and identities. Will the show be a good adaptation to the original work? Let’s wait and see!
Read articles regarding upcoming Asian American representation:
Do you like to read Asian American writing? If you do, YES, you are with me now! If you don’t, OK, this booklist will totally change your vision and life. Three red-letter Asian American writers and their books: Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats, Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange, and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life.
My Year of Meats byRuth Ozeki
Images via Smith College and Goodreads
Ruth Ozeki is a Canadian-American novelist, filmmaker, and Zen priest. Before her writing career, Ozeki had worked in the TV industry for ten years and produced a documentary Halving the Bones (1995). This working experience as a TV producer/documentarian nourishes her writing style. When reading her novels it can feel as though you are watching a movie or TV series because the way some cinematic techniques, such as montage or multi-narratives, have influenced her reflects on page . Topics of her writing ranges from race, gender, environmental crisis, to the aesthetics of Zen.
My Year of Meats, published in 1998, is Ozkei’s second novel. The story starts with Jane Takagi-Little, a Japanese-American documentarian, who works for BEEF-EX, a Texas-based meat lobbying firm. Her duty is to produce My American Wife! which is a TV reality show featuring American housewives and her authentic American life, food, and belief. Jane is pressured by the company to promote the advantage of eating beef as a wholesome American lifestyle. However, Jane gradually realizes the unspeakable truth hidden within the meat industry. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, a Japanese housewife Akiko is watching My American Wife! in her Tokyo apartment. She is carefully jotting down the beef diner recipe the TV show introduces because that will also be served as the diner for her husband John Ueno, the executive of BEEF-EX. Akiko has been struggling with infertility however is pressured by John to eat more beef because John believes that “Beef is the Best” and beef can bring them children symboling a traditional American family.
Tropic of Orange byKaren Tei Yamashita
Images via Star Tribune and Amazon
Karen Tei Yamashita is a Japanese-American writer who is a Professor of Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her writing contains huge elements of magical realism and transnational vision. Yamashita’s novels pays attention to the phenomena of polyglot and multicultural communities in an increasingly globalized age. Reading her novels, you may feel like you are cruising a world without boundaries: of race, gender, time, and space.
Published in 1997, Tropic of Orange rewrites how a novel can smash human concepts of geographical, cultural, and temporal limits. The book is set in Los Angels and Mexico with a group of diverse ethnic people dominating each mysterious life. The story covers the span of seven days, with each chapter focusing on specific days and characters. We have Emi, a Japanese-American TV executive, and her lover Gabriel Balboa, a Latino journalist, chasing news in LA. They have a reliable but mysterious source of news: Buzzworm, an African American who roams LA streets offering advice. Gabriel owns a home in Mexico in which a special orange falls from a tree and is picked up by the mystical character Arcangel who carries the fruit across the U.S.- Mexico border and the Tropic of Cancer. With the development of the narratives, we see different lines of story weaving into a unexpected web.
A Little Life byHanya Yanagihara
Images via The Cut and Amazon
Born in Hawaii, Hanya Yanagihara is considered one of the most talented writers in the publishing industry in the last decade. Working as a chief editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the forty-year-old Yanagihara, without any training in fictional writing, amazed the industry in 2013 with the publication of her first novel The People in the Trees. The novel is based on the real-life case of the virologist Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, was praised as one of the best novels of 2013. Though Yanagihara spent sixteen years completing The People in the Trees, she established A Little Life, a novel with the same depth and effort as the first one, in eighteen months. A Little Life was published in 2015 and received a volcano of favorable reviews.
Praised as the greatest gay novel by The Atlantic, the novel portrays the friendship spanning over thirty years of four men who met each other in college, and their homo/heterosexual romance, lost, and anger they experience throughout their lives. Malcolm is an architect; JB is a portrait artist; Willem is an actor; Jude is a lawyer. The story begins with Willem and Jude, both of whom graduated from distinguished university, co-rent a small apartment in New York City: Malcolm and JB, born in rich families, have huge passion for art but feel uncertain about the future. Willem is a poor guy from a farm in the midwest, insisting in acting life in theatre－he feels responsible for these old friends, especially for Jude; Jude is the most successful one among the four－he has a great career as a attorney but, as if his mysterious crippled leg, Jude himself is mysterious too: no one knows his past. With deeper description of Jude, Yanagihara performs how the past tangles with not only Jude’s life but the other three characters.
Featured Image via Ruth Ozeki, Writing like an Asian, and The Cut