Frank Chin to Allan Kornblum:
Coffee House Press
You accused me of unjustly attacking Maxine Hong Kingston, David Henry Hwang and Amy Tan for being White America favorite Yellow writers, and sending me packing.
They are the favorite writers among Whites. That proves their White racism. They love Kingston because Kingston heaps contempt on all Chinese and all of Chinese culture by selling you her pitiful cutdown of Far Mulan.
The Chinese of San Francisco and Kingston were stripped of all knowledge of the books that held our identity, asthe Bible holds the identity of Christians, and Torah holds the identity of the Jews, and Koran holds Islam identity. Since our arrival in 1849 we were greeted with contempt, in the White religion. The Whites refused to read what we offered. We knew Whites. Whites had been China peddling Christianity and selling opium for sixty years before we took of greener pastures and the Gold Rush. But the Whites did not want to know us.
In 1889 Missionary Donaldina Cameron and the Age of American Imperialism came to San Francisco. She invented the stereotype of Chinese men are cruel to their women and built Cameron House. The stereotype became a staple of SF Christianity and is the jewel of Chinatown.
You are not my friend. A friend would have read THE BALLAD OF MULAN. A friend would have given Chinese poetry a glance and seen that before MULAN the only patriotic beauties were concubines skilled in pleasing targeted men and four of them are celebrated as THE FOUR BEAUTIES. Mulan was the first girl to decide for herself how to save her family. She decided when and who she fucked and her saved family accepted. A friend would have been impressed that her name was invoked by Liang Hongyu, the girl who drummed signals to Han Zhisong, her husband and troops on the field below. Her belly was slashed and her guts spilled out in battle. She stuffed her intestines back into her body, wrapped a scarf around to hold them, remounted her horse, said, "Today I die for my country," and rode into a barrage of arrows. She is buried with her husband. Mu Guiying, was a bandit queen who captured a general of Yang family, fell in love with him, married him and was appointed commander of the seven Yang family armies by the Yang matriarch. Both Liang and Mu were allies of General Yue Fei- the tattooed general, and Kingston's source for the tattoos Mulan's parents inflict on the child when born!
My friend would notice that all the Yellows whites like to read trash Chinese and exalt Whites. That's what Whites like to read. And thanks to White publishers like Coffee House contempt for the Chinese Heroic Tradition is all they get.
Some friend. Cameron House and their lovable Ornaments and all the Yellows honeys doing White news only are more numerous than ever. My friends are not my friends. Too cowardly to read. They go like torn pages in the wind.
Our relationship is business. Just business. Old business.
I go now looking for a non-existent Yellow America publishing house. China and Singapore are authoritarian states. Readers there have to take me under the covers. At least in America they can read my lesser works in a plain brown wrapper.
Now Pres Bill Clinton's 1998 award of his Humanities Medal to Kingston for "revealing the truth of Chinatown" hangs like a Damocles sword over Hillary Clinton campaign. Maybe you can warn them, and maybe they can smooth over Pres Bill's white racist act of contempt for the Chinese.
Allan Kornblum to Frank Chin:
Date: March 26, 2014
I'm sorry Cinda and I weren't able to get together with you on our little get-away trip to Los Angeles early this month. I actually put together an itinerary for the trip with things to do and people to see in the morning, afternoon, and evening of every day of our visit--you were on it. But even though I'm much better than I was in early December, two years plus of chemo and eight years of leukemia have taken their toll. We had to scale back those plans dramatically.
But if all goes well, I will be back in your fair city later this year or early next. I have a long list of books I'd like to see at the Huntington Library, as part of the research for the book I'm writing--a quirky history of publishing from a literary publisher's point of view. If I'm able to make the trip, I'll get in touch and maybe we can get together for lunch. Speaking of our last exchange of emails, which began when a teacher who had assigned your book, contacted us about what appeared to be an error in Donald Duk. You confirmed that it was an error, and we will be making the correction next time we reprint.
And that's when I told you about the ordeal I've been through, and how I wound up getting saved at the last minute by a new drug. And your response was, "Hey, Don't Die you fucker. I'm running out of Whites to yell at."
Ah, Frank, don't you think it's time to stop yelling at people? You had a case to make, with regard to the way some Asian American writers have portrayed Chinese culture, and the obligation of Chinese American writers to read the classic Chinese texts. And you've made that case eloquently and fiercely over a long career.
And during that career you have written some terrific plays, stories, novels, and essays. It was my honor to have published some of your stories and your two novels, Frank. The work you have had performed and published has influenced at least two generations of Asian American writers.
Now it's time to take pride and pleasure in your achievements. Don't worry about Maxine Hong Kingston, or Amy Tan, or any of the writers with whom you have had a quarrel. You've made your case in speeches and essays, and by example in the books you've written.
As I'm sure you know, physically, getting older sucks. Every day another part of your body hurts, or doesn't work as well as it once did. Our only recompense is to take some pride in having made the contribution it was in us to make.
I feel so good about my years as a publisher. And I'm so grateful that Chris Fishbach was there to take over Coffee House Press, and build on my accomplishments while making his own contribution. Leukemia sucks, but I can take pride and pleasure in knowing I gave everything that was in me to literary publishing, and I still had enough left for my family.
You've had a great literary career, Frank, and you've influenced hundreds of writers, and tens of thousands of readers. As to your perceived "literary enemies"--let your anger go, man. Stop yelling at people. It's not good for you. Take it from a guy living with cancer.
I don't know what brought up the above late-night night diatribe, but don't worry about having burned bridges, or destroyed a long, warm relationship. I know about writing late night letters. Fortunately I threw most of them away, or the people who did receive them chalked them up to a crazy mood of the moment.
So, I hope you got to sleep last night, and that today life seems a bit brighter. Go have a cappuccino and enjoy your day--keeping in mind that it's eighteen degrees here in Minnesota. And remember that a lot of people care about you.