chapter  19
14 Pages

Chinese Obsession, Racial Melancholia, and Male Hysteria: Recuperating Taiwanese American Writer Liu Daren in (Chinese) American Studies


Although it has received very little attention in Asian-American studies, Chinese-language literature by Taiwanese writers1 in the United States has long claimed critical attention in the Chinese-speaking world.2 Many of these writers were well recognized before their transpacific voyage and continue to publish with presses in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. A major body of their work has been categorized by the Chinese as “overseas student literature,” denoting the authors’ transpacific trajectory as well as the recurrent theme in their works. These writers, such as Bai Hsien-yung (白先勇), Chang Shi-Kuo (張系國), Liu Daren (劉大任), Nieh Hualing (聶華苓), and Yu Lihua (於梨華), first came to the United States as graduate students and settled in to careers in the United States.3 In the history of Chinese-American immigration, this group of immigrant writers from Taiwan occupies a drastically different socioeconomic position from that of early Chinese immigrants, most of whom came as laborers, experienced legislated discriminations, and had to aggregate in Chinatown ghettos, forming a bachelor society; the graduate students-turned-immigrants who settled in the United States after 1965 in contrast enjoy more geographical and socioeconomic mobility.