Yellow Light

The Flowering of Asian American Arts

edited by Amy Ling
Book Cover

PB: $44.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-817-6
Publication: May 00

HC: $44.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-670-7
Publication: May 99

384 pages
7 x 10

Is there a distinctive Asian American creative sensibility?


Amy Ling brings together in one comprehensive volume poets, novelists, dramatists, musicians, songwriters, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, and performance artists who span three generations and represent the broad spectrum of ethnicities that make up Asian America. They share thoughts on their work, their audiences, and their relationship to the Asian American rubric and American life and culture. They provide a rare glimpse of the inspirations and aspirations out of which their energy and ideas grow and place their work, each differently, in the complex fabric of American life. An indispensible anthology of work and an inspiring and provocative cultural record, Yellow Light casts a revealing glow on the contradictions, influences, imagination, and humanity expressed through the vastly varied creative projects of Americans with Asian roots.

This book will engage readers interested in Asian American literature, film, and culture and students and scholars of Asian American studies, American culture, and multicultural studies.

What is Asian America?
a place?
a race?
a frame of reference? a government-imposed expedient?
a box to check on a form?
It's a dream in the heart
Like Bulosan's claim,
a tug in the gut,
a gleam of recognition:
Asian ancestry
American struggle.

Amy Ling


"Art serves as one tool by which members of the community define themselves, through accepting or rejecting part or all of an artist's vision.... No single artist can speak for the community; only the community of artists can serve such a function."
David Henry Hwang, Playwright

"The sensibility that we do share is not one that springs from our own cultures but from our shared experience of having our cultures misunderstood and lumped together."
Christine Choy, Filmmaker


"Although treating only Asian American artists, by inference this book goes far beyond that group, engaging the reader in questions about ethnicity of all persuasions. As such, this is a very telling work about conditions and aspirations of multicultural artistic populations. "

"...a valuable resource and an important marker of the state of Asian American creativity at the end of the twentieth century."
Journal of Asian American Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction: What's in a Name

Part I: The Written Word
C.Y. Lee, Novelist: The Short Story That Changed My Fate
Kim Yong Ik, Novelist: "Home Again, 1945" (from Gourd Hollow Dance), From Elegy by Kim Udam
Mitsuye Yamada, Poet: That Man, In Some Countries
Diana Chang, Novelist and Poet: The Oriental Contingent
Sook Nyul Choi, Memorist and Novelist: From Year of Impossible Goodbyes
Maxine Hong Kingston, Memoirist and Novelist: From Tripmaster Monkey
Peter Bacho, Novelist: A Family Gathering
Arthur Sze, Poet: In Your Honor, The Redshifting Web
Meena Alexander, Poet, Novelist, and Memoirst: Imagining Dora
Darrell Lum, Fiction Writer and Playwright: Paint
Garrett Hongo, Poet: Ministry: Homage to Kilauea
David Mura, Poet, Memorist, and Performance Artist: The Colors of Desire
Karen Tei Yamashita, Novelist: Siamese Twins and Mongoloids
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Poet and Fiction Writer: Clothes
Kirin Narayan, Anthropologist and Novelist: "Firoze Ganjifrockwala" (from Love, Stars, and All That)
Katherine Min, Poet and Fiction Writer: The Brick
Stewart David Ikeda, Novelist: Roughie

Part II: Images, the Spoken Word, Dance, and Music
Flo Oy Wong, Artist: Made in USA: Angel Island Shhh, My Mother's Baggage, Baby Jack Rice Story: The Corner Beckoned
Munio Makuuchi, Artist and Poet: From Lake Minidoka to Lake Mendota, Black Diamond, Rooting for Coal, Fairgrounds Called Camp Harmony?, Gathering the Lost Tribes under Blue-Spot-Tailed Golden Eagle Wings, Diane as Victory Garden—Even 1/16 "Japanese" Blood
Ping Chong, Playwright: 98.6—A Convergence in 15 Minutes
Genny Lim, Poet and Playwright: From La China Poblana
David Henry Hwang, Playwright: Trying to Find Chinatown
Velina Hasu Houston, Playwright and Poet: From Tea
Dwight Okita, Playwright and Poet: Richard Speck, Asian Men on Asian Men: The Attraction
Dan Kwong, Performance and Installation Artist: "Song for Grandpa" (from Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons)
Slant, Performance Group: Richard Ebihara, Wayland Quintero, Perry Yung: "No Menus Please" (from Big Dicks, Asian Men), "Diary of a Paper Son" (from The Second Coming)
Christine Choy, Filmmaker: Stills from Who Killed Vincent Chin?
Renee Tajima-Peña, Filmmaker: Stills from America... or Honk if You Love Buddha
Eric Koyanagi, Filmmaker: Stills from hundred percent
Garrett Richard Wang, Actor: Response
William David "Charlie" Chin, Musician, Composer, and Writer: Johnson's Store
Chris Iijima, Lawyer, Singer, and Songwriter: Asian Song
Nobuke Miyamoto, Dancer, Singer, and Songwriter: To All Relations/Mitakuye Oyasin, What is the Color of Love?, The Chasm
Peggy Myo-Young Choy, Dancer and Choreographer: Response
Jon Jang, Composer and Pianist: From Island: The Immigrant Suite
Fred Ho, Musician and Composer: Response
Jamez Chang, Hip-Hop and Rap Artist: Indiana Jones Chang, Longing for Home, Sai-i-ku, April 29
Ton Ger Xiong, Hip-Hop and Rap Artist: Go Hmong Boy Go Hmong Boy Go: A Rap, We Are Hmong: A Rap


About the Author(s)

The late Amy Ling was Professor in the Department of English and the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She authored numerous books, including Between Worlds: Women Writers of Chinese Ancestry and Chinamerican Reflections, a chapbook of poems and paintings.


In the Series

  • Asian American History and Culture edited by Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee

    Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi, David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong and Linda Trinh Võ, series editors Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.