David Henry Hwang is the writerly equivalent of Charlie Chan's Number One Son and Gunga Din ("Hwang's Metamorphosis," by Sylvie Drake, Oct. 30).
The China and Chinese America he writes of in "F.O.B.," "Dance and the Railroad" and "M. Butterfly" are the products of a white racist imagination, not any encounter with the facts or the reality of the warriors whose names and lives he forces into the white racist stereotype of a Chinese culture.
He should not be surprised at the popularity of "M. Butterfly." It's Charlie Chan as the whites originally conceived him. The good Chinese man, the best Chinese man, the manliest Chinese man is an effeminate homosexual.
Hwang always wrote like a white about the Chinese, freely faking it to create racist effects. I, for one, am overjoyed that he at last is giving up playing Joe Papp's Number One Son and writing about "just anybody."
Please, David, now that you have declared yourself white, stay white, write white about whites and get out of town.
Charlie Chan's Number None Son
January 22, 1989
You had to go out and find Charlie Chan's Number None Son to review my Chinaman work (Douglas Sun reviewing "The Chinaman Pacific & Fresco R.R. Co.") (Book Review, Jan. 1). You'd probably get Gunga Din to review "Gandhi."
Your grad student, George (sic) Sun, writes as if he's grading my paper for Northrup (sic) Frye's junior high English class.
Supposedly Sun is a Chinese-American. Supposedly he is knowledgeable in the literary universe of the Chinese-American literary sensibility, but lo! all his literary touchstones are white! He doesn't know Chinese when he reads it.
In my work, the universals of the civilization founded on religion--Christendom--work with and against the universals of the civilization founded on history--Confuciandom. In Confuciandom, neither tragedy nor autobiography are literary forms. Tragedy and autobiography can only exist in a religious civilization, because they are religious forms. I play with them, but I don't write them. Against the mannerism of autobiography and tragedy and all that Western mysticism that has faked Asia and my history, I play with the universals of the Confucian ethic of private revenge and the ethic of collective revenge on which kingdoms rise and fall and nations come and go, known as the Confucian mandate of heaven.
The Chinese-American fiction Sun prefers seeks only white approval and acceptance; mine is more Chinese and literary in its intent. Like Kwan, the god of fighters and writers, and Monkey, I try to make the difference between the real and the fake.
The Big Mix
February 19, 1989
I was saddened and not surprised to learn Mako has resigned as artistic director of the theater he founded and ran while my kids were born, marriages came and went, the kids graduated high school, college and grad school, went into careers, fell in love and face marriages of their own (Victor Valle's stage article).
Mako stayed with East-West Players and turned down more work than he accepted to pursue content and art in Asian-American theater. There isn't an Asian-American actor or writer of the last 25 years who hasn't grabbed Mako's goodies and run, some to better things, some to nothing. Now seems a good time to thank the man for what he's done and the help he's been.
December 15, 1991
Carolyn See's investment in the Christian stereotype of the Chinese as misogynist and morally despicable is personal and pathological (Nov. 3 interview with David Wong Louie, whose "Pangs of Love" won the Art Seidenbaum Award for best first fiction).
What she hears from her ornamental Orientals is not any silence being broken, not any Chinese stories being told, but the noise of the same old Pearl Buck, Fu Manchu, Charlie Chan.
She can hear the stories, or read them, or play with them, simply by walking into a Chinatown bookstore--as can any Chinaman who wonders if white people really teach their children sexual roles with "Cinderella," which in some early German versions is the story of a bisexual who does things with three bears, by checking the book out of the library.
Louie deserves whatever awards he gets on his own merits, not because of the company or the enemies See chooses for him. Louie has not fabricated texts of despicable Chinese morality like Maxine Kingston, Amy Tan and Gus Lee; he has not appropriated the names of the heroes or heroines of Chinese fairy tales and children's stories and stuck them onto the white stereotype of Chinese. Nor has he used Chinese fairy tales and stories to inform the intelligence driving his stories.
He neither rides in my gang, nor invites me to choose him out. It's Carolyn See, the demagogue-messiah maker, who saddles him with the Christian stereotypists.