Saturday, April 09, 2022

Seven books about the Chinese Exclusion Act

Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin and Senior Editor for The Adroit Journal. Her work has appeared in Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, and The Rumpus, with essays in HuffPost, Bustle, The Cut, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a Kundiman fellow and graduate of the VONA/Voices and Tin House workshops, and holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming.

Her debut novel Four Treasures of the Sky is out now from Flatiron Books.

At Electric Lit Zhang tagged seven books that examine "the impact of the 1882 law that restricted Chinese migration to the United States," including:
The Celestials by Karen Shepard

In June of 1870, seventy-five Chinese laborers arrived in North Adams, Massachusetts to work as unwitting strikebreakers in Calvin T. Sampson’s shoe factory. What follows is The Celestials, Karen Shepard’s reimagining of this real event, dubbed Sampson’s “Chinese experiment.” As tensions continue to increase between the newly arrived Chinese and the white townspeople and laborers, Charlie Sing, the only English speaker among them, falls in love with Sampson’s wife and fathers her child. Written in Shepard’s breathless prose, The Celestials highlights with tenderness and compassion a time when assimilation, identity, and yearning were constant questions for early Chinese immigrants.
Read about another title on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Celestials.

--Marshal Zeringue