Yo-Yo Ma is a cellist who is one of the most prominent classical musicians today. Born in Paris and raised in New York, Ma's first teacher was his father. Ma graduated from high school at 15 and studied at Juliard for a year before attending Harvard. Ma joins the show to discuss his life and career.
Book critic Stuart Klawan reviews Frank Chin's new collection of short stories, The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co, features what the author deems "badass" working class Chinese Americans on the West Coast. Klawans says the book is written with wild intensity and a sense of sociocultural outrage.
Frank Chin is critical of many other contemporary Asian American writers; their works, he says, rely too much on western forms, cater to white audiences, and misrepresent Asian culture. His new collection of short stories, The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co, reveals his own perspectives on the Chinese American experience.
Kingston wrote two dreamlike memoirs before publishing a novel, Tripmaster Monkey. The story follows a Chinese American grad student in the 1960s who is as influenced by Chinese literature as he is Beat culture. Book critic John Leonard calls it brilliant.
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.
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.
Film maker Peter Wang (it's spelled "wang," but it's pronounced "Wong"). Wang wrote, produced, directed, and acts in his new movie, "The Laser Man." It's a suspense-comedy about a Chinese-American physicist who discovers his laser research is being used for evil purposes. Much the same thing happened to Wang himself. He holds a PhD. in laser technology but left the field after deciding he could no longer use his skills to help create new weapons systems. After a stint teaching, Wang migrated into acting and film.
Writer Gus Lee. Lee's novel, "China Boy" is the story of a young immigrant boy growing up in a rough neighborhood of San Francisco. (The book's published by E.P. Dutton). (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)
Writer Maxine Hong Kingston shares her thoughts at the end of the year. Her novel, "Tripmaster Monkey," was a huge critical success in 1989. This year, Kingston lost the only copy of the manuscript for her new novel when her house in Oakland, California burned down earlier this year.
Novelist Amy Tan. Her debut novel, "The Joy Luck Club," was a huge critical and commercial success, and it earned Tan a nomination for the National Book Award. It's now been made into a movie. Tan and Ron Bass wrote the screenplay. Marty will talk with Tan and Bass about making "The Joy Luck Club" into a movie. Ron Bass also wrote the screenplay for "Rain Man" for which he won an Academy Award. (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)
Shanghai-born author, Anchee Min. She grew up in China during the last years of Mao's Cultural Revolution. In her memoir, "Red Azalea" (Pantheon), Min recounts her experiences as an 11-year old leader in her school's Little Red Guard, then as a laborer at a work camp where she became the secret lover of her female commander. When Madam Mao began her reform of China's film industry, Min was chosen from 20,000 candidates to become a screen actress because she had a face that was thought to represent the working class.
Novelist Amy Tan. Her best-selling books include The Joy Luck Club, and The Kitchen God's Wife. Her newest novel is The Hundred Secret Senses (Putnam's), about two half-sisters. One is Chinese-American, the other is Chinese, and has the ability to see ghosts.
Another segment from Ira Glass' new show, "This American Life": Chinese-American writer Sandra Tsing Loh with a story about her eccentric father who lives in LA. He was hitch-hiking one day and was picked up by actress Angelica Huston.
Playwright David Henry Hwang (pronounced "Wong"). He received numerous awards for his Broadway debut "M. Butterfly." His newest production "Golden Child" about the struggle between tradition and change in a family in 1918 China, opens on Broadway in April. It received a 1997 Obie Award. (Interview by Babara Bogaev)
Amy Chua, a professor of law at Yale, has written her first memoir about raising children the "Chinese way" — with strict rules and expectations. Maureen Corrigan predicts the book will be "a book club and parenting blog phenomenon."
Lee is acclaimed for his realistic and historical fiction, but he's made a foray into the futuristic sci-fi genre with a new novel called On Such a Full Sea. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan says sometimes it's better for writers to stick closer to familiar shores.