Asian American Chick Lit

In Jeff Yang's article in the Chronicle regarding Asian American chick lit, there's this observation from author Anjali Banerjee:

"The first book I wrote was actually a pretty straight romantic suspense novel, called 'Night Train Home,'" says Banerjee. "It didn't have any Asian characters and was quite honestly a pretty bad book. But the primary critique I got from agents was that it wasn't 'different' enough: It wouldn't stand out from the hundreds of other works of contemporary women's fiction already being published. And so I decided to tap into my own ethnic background, my own cultural experience, to give my next book a more distinctive flavor."

And:

Which didn't stop Publishers Weekly from calling "Imaginary Men" "'Monsoon Wedding' meets 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'" "Hey, I have no problem with that," laughs Banerjee. "I'd be delighted if everyone who watched 'Monsoon Wedding' and bought 'Bridget Jones's Diary' also bought my book. Unfortunately, there are people out there who see an Indian on the cover of a book and won't buy it. They'll be like, 'Oh, this book isn't meant for me.' It's a bit of a catch 22: You want to be able to write something distinctive, but you also want to have people recognize that there are broader themes in the work, that the work is universal."

The dilemma is captured beautifully here: to be exotic or not, and if so, how much?

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- February 14, 2007 8:07 PM // Books