A Politics of Intraracial DesireCynthia Wu
Cynthia Wu’s provocative Sticky Rice examines representations of same-sex desires and intraracial intimacies in some of the most widely read pieces of Asian American literature. Analyzing canonical works such as John Okada’s No-No Boy, Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt, H. T. Tsiang’s And China Has Hands, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging, as well as Philip Kan Gotanda’s play, Yankee Dawg You Die, Wu considers how male relationships in these texts blur the boundaries among the homosocial, the homoerotic, and the homosexual in ways that lie beyond our concepts of modern gay identity.
The “sticky rice” of Wu’s title is a term used in gay Asian American culture to describe Asian American men who desire other Asian American men. The bonds between men addressed in Sticky Rice show how the thoughts and actions founded by real-life intraracially desiring Asian-raced men can inform how we read the refusal of multiple normativities in Asian Americanist discourse. Wu lays bare the trope of male same-sex desires that grapple with how Asian America’s internal divides can be resolved in order to resist assimilation.
“ How does an idiom of gay Asian male coupling move beyond its vernacular and banal meaning to other more capacious intellectual, sensorial, and political realms? Sticky Rice is a brilliant attempt to demonstrate just that. Subjecting canonical Asian American literary texts from No No Boy to The Book of Salt to a productive genealogical analysis, Cynthia Wu offers a deceptively simple yet dynamic notion of the ‘sticky dyad’ that showcases how race, sexual desire, and gender adhere to and become entangled with one another in a way that opens up creative possibilities for progressive coalitional politics, affective understandings, and provocative reading practices.”
—Martin F. Manalansan IV, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora
“ Mining queer erotics at the heart of canonical Asian American literary texts, Sticky Rice interrogates both normative homophobic responses to and gay-positive celebration of intraracial same-sex intimacies. Wu attends to the ways that ‘sticky rice’ desires create tender coalitional bonds while simultaneously reanimating bitter antagonisms. Written in lucid, elegant prose, this bold and delectable contribution to the fields of Asian American studies, queer theory, and critical race studies is a welcome guide for readers interested in navigating the bumpy terrains of race, sexuality, and gender in the new millennium.”
—Nguyen Tan Hoang, Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of California–San Diego and author of A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation
"Wu employs the trope of 'sticky rice'—which in gay Asian American culture means Asian American men who desire other Asian American men—to explore this intraracial desire, and she also uses the underlying critical vision to underscore a new coalitional politics for the ethnic group. Wu emphasizes such a desire as intervention in assimilationist tendencies and healing differences among diverse Asian groups.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"Wu interrogates the politics of intraracial same-sex desire through queer readings of five key works of Asian American literature and drama.... It is a testament to the richness of Wu’s analysis that readers may benefit equally if they approach Sticky Rice as optimists or as realists. This imaginative and provocative volume will interest scholars of Asian American studies, queer studies, and American literature, issuing a welcome invitation to look anew at these and other literary works."
—Journal of Asian American Studies
"Wu reads against the grain of these texts, tracing unremarkable, elusive expressions of queer desire that reside in metaphor and innuendo, in what goes beyond plot or prose. These sticky encounters between Asian-raced men offer another means of confronting the irresolvable heterogeneity of an intraracial Asian American coalitional politics shaped by ethnic and class differences."
" Cynthia Wu’s Sticky Rice provides a daring and innovative genealogy of Asian American canonical literature through a queer analytic.... This book would be useful for academics engaged in Asian American studies, queer of color studies and also for LGBTQ activists who are thinking about coalitional politics as it pertains to intraracial and relational racial dynamics.... Sticky Rice pulls together an interdisciplinary archive that methodologically embodies the type of coalitional politics that she aims to advance with her reading of these Asian American canonical texts."
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.