Tan's first novel is called The Joy Luck Club, which is about a group of Chinese mothers who try to understand their American-born daughters. She joins Fresh Air to discuss her relationship with her own mother, and her mother's home country.
Kingston's new book, Tripmaster Monkey, is about a fifth-generation Chinese American man in the 1960s, who tries to find a balance between his two cultures. She joins Fresh Air to talk about her life as a first-generation immigrant, her relationship with her mother, and how she developed her voice as a storyteller.
Filmmaker Wayne Wang. With the films "Chan is Missing," "Dim Sum," and "Slam Dance" to his credit, Wang is the first Chinese-American film director to make an impact in the American film industry. Wang has focussed his work around the problems of identity and assimilation, and other issues in the lives of Chinese-American immigrants. He made his first film, "Chan is Missing," on a budget of only $22,000, but the mystery set in San Francisco's Chinatown became both a critical and box-office success.
The master of funk, George Clinton. He began his musical career as a teenager when he formed The Parliament. But in the early 70s, Clinton put together a second group, "Funkadelic," that became enormously influential on the pop music scene. Their 1970 album, "Osmium," set the tone for Clinton's wickedly eclectic style; songs ranged from metaphysical gospel to country and acid rock. But their big hit came with the album "Mothership Connection." In songs like "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," "Get Up on the Downstroke" and "Think!
Ronald Takaki. He's the grandson of Japanese immigrants and a professor of Ethnic Studies at Berkeley. His book, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, tells the diverse stories of Asian immigrants who have come to the United States during the past century and a half. Takaki relates the personal testimonies of new immigrants and their American-born children.
Filmmaker Ketan Mehta (Kay-Tahn May-Ta). He's one of a group of young, politically committed directors in India today who believe movies can be effective tools for social change and not just entertainment, and his films have dealt with such issues as the caste system and feminism. His latest film, "Spices," tells the story of a young woman in a remote village in India and her struggle to resist the advances of a powerful feudal overlord.
Poet Li-Young Lee. He was born into a family of political refugees from China. They traveled throughout Asia for years to escape persecution. In the mid-60's his family moved to Pennsylvania. Lee's poems reflect his struggle with his Chinese heritage - a heritage to which he is bound but in which he never lived. His poems also reflect Lee's attempt to come to terms with the powerful and mythic figure of his father, who was alternately imprisoned and revered for his beliefs.
Former U.S. senator James G. Abourezk (AB-er-esk). In his new memoir, "Advise and Dissent," Abourezk tells of Arab-American heritage, his coming of age in the North Dakota Indian country, his early political days, his 8 years in Congress, and his decision not to run for re-election in 1979. These days Abourezk is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and is National Chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.