Sunday, November 18, 2012

G8 Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir

Title: Fresh of the Boat A memoir

Author: Eddie Huang

Date it will be published: February 2013

Type of book: food, immigrants, FOB, drugs, street-wear, 1980s-2010s, rap/ hip-hop, "rotten banana", China

Subject matter: Focuses on the story of what it's like living as an Asian American and having to experience racism and whatnot as well as why and how he turned out the way he did.

Special features: Since this is an ARC, none. I would imagine that the published versions will have pictures of him and his family.

Price: $26.00 dollars in USA, $31.00 dollars in Canada

ISBN: 978-0-679-64488-0

Publishing company: Spiegel & Grau Hardcover

What Is The Meaning of This Primary Source?

This is an autobiography of Eddie Huang that charts time from his childhood to the time his restaurant makes it into New York Times. In there he talks about the racism he experienced from the time he was a kid to the impact it had on him on as a teenager and a man. Eddie is only three years older than I and although I could relate to a lot he wrote, as well as feel sadness and pain he experienced, there are some aspects I couldn't relate to.

Why was this document/object written or made?

I am struggling to answer this question. I somehow doubt that it's for nostalgic purposes that Eddie wrote his autobiography, because his history is very colorful and he focuses a lot on the negative things that have happened. I also doubt it was intended for inspirational purposes. The most that Eddie talks about is racism he experiences and I have a feeling that perhaps he wrote it for his two younger brothers due to dedication on the page: "To Emery, who lived it, and Evan, who built it."

Who was the intended audience/user?

I would guess that people who were born in 1980s as well as Asian Americans are the intended audience and users. I could imagine that the two Korean guys I used to know who also were born in 1982 would be able to relate a lot to his experiences and whatnot. While I could relate a little to what he wrote, (I am 1.5 generation Russian-Jewish,) I somehow doubt that he had women in mind when he wrote the book. (The book is best described as a "Man's World" I think the only thing that would interest a woman in it are the food descriptions he talks about.)

What questions does this source raise? What don't we know about this source?

I was mostly shocked that name-calling and whatnot happened to Eddie during 1980s and 1990s! I mean we are supposed to be the tolerance/ multicultural generation and this is how we still treat people who are different from us? This continues to raise the question of emasculated Asian male stereotype as well as the idea of selling out to the establishment.

What I don't know about the source is how he feels about white women. Few times he mentions that a cousin or someone he knows are with a white woman, and in his chapter entitled "Pink Nipples" he talks about a crush he has towards a girl while in camp. Yet in the rest of the book he tends to focus on the negative aspects of white people, such as the part about him wanting to be a sports-caster and being told he couldn't "with that face." or how kids laughed at the seaweed salad.

What other information do we have about this document or object?

Since it hasn't been published and it takes place in very recent history, I can't really imagine that there will be other sources that are similar to the author's.

What other sources are like this one?

If some do exist, I haven't had a chance to read them yet. Closest I can come up with is "Han Han" who's criticizing Chinese government. (It's not known if Han Han is the actual writer or not of the blog and books. Huge controversy in China.) The language is very different: Han Han translation uses the "public" language, while Eddie uses "colorful" vernacular in forms of cuss-words (a drinking game for each time he says motherfucker or fuck...) but both criticize the society.

What other sources might help answer our questions about this one?

Perhaps personal interviews with Eddie or Eddie doing a follow up book to this one.

What else do we need to know in order to understand the evidence in this source?

I think one needs to either have lived through it or perhaps have a friend or two that grew up during those times and happened to be Asian Americans who became "rotten bananas" like Eddie had.

What have others said about this or similar sources?

So far nothing to my knowledge.

How does this source help me to answer my research question?

I don't have research questions, but if someone did do research on Asian American experience very recently, this would be a good source to use because Eddie discusses that in great deal. Or perhaps the culture of 1980s and 1990s, in particular the rap music and its impact on Eddie's generation would be another good reason to use the book.

How does evidence from this source alter or fit into existing interpretations of the past?

It shows that racism is still alive and going strong, at least towards Asian Americans. Unfortunately little has changed.

My Experience reading the book:

I found the book to be delightful, despite the cuss words as well as funny. I read a portion of this book to my friend who liked it and laughed at some instances that I cringed at. (She found the seaweed salad debacle funny, while I could imagine how painful it was for Eddie.) I admire that Eddie turned his pain to comedy. I had delightful mornings in reading the book on my way to work, so thank you Eddie Huang. This is also one of the first times I'm reading an autobiography so I hope I did justice to this book.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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