Phoenix Eyes and Other Stories
Russell Charles Leong shows an astonishing range in this new collection of stories. From struggling war refugees to monks, intellectuals to sex workers, his characters are both linked and separated by their experiences as modern Asians and Asian Americans.
In styles ranging from naturalism to high-camp parody, Leong goes beneath stereotypes of immigrant and American-born Chinese, hustlers and academics, Buddhist priests and street people. Displacement and marginalization -- and the search for love and liberation -- are persistent themes. Leong's people are set apart, by sexuality, by war, by AIDS, by family dislocations. From this vantage point on the outskirts of conventional life, they often see clearly the accommodations we make with identity and with desire. A young teen-ager, sold into prostitution to finance her brothers' education, saves her hair trimmings to burn once a year in a temple ritual, the one part of her body that is under her own control. A documentary film producer, raised in a noisy Hong Kong family, marvels at the popular image of Asian Americans as a silenced minority. Traditional Chinese families struggle to come to terms with gay children and AIDS.
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About the Author
Russell Charles Leong , longtime editor of Amerasia Journal and managing editor of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center Publications, is also an award-winning poet and documentary filmmaker.
A collection of startling and unsettling short stories that are mostly set in the landscape of contemporary California. Some of Leong's rich and evocative stories confront us with the horror of what might be played for cheap exoticism in less skillful hands..Other stories are more restrained, but Leong always shows us how memory and identity persist even in the melting pot of America..his acute powers of observation and his poet's gift for capturing the experience of transcendence are given full expression in the pages of Phoenix Eyes.--Los Angeles Times