Across MeridiansHistory and Figuration in Karen Tei Yamashita's Transnational Novels

Across MeridiansHistory and Figuration in Karen Tei Yamashita's Transnational Novels

Jinqi Ling

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780804778015

Publisher: Stanford University Press

Abstract

Over the course of the last two decades, novelist Karen Tei Yamashita has reshaped the Asian American literary imagination in profound ways, and this book offers readers a critically engaged examination of her literary corpus. Crafted at the intersection of intellectual history, ethnic studies, literary analysis, and critical theory, the study goes beyond textual investigation to intervene in larger debates over postmodern representation, spatial materialism, historical form, and social and academic activism. Arguing that Yamashita's most important contribution is her incorporation of a North–South vector into the East–West conceptual paradigm, the author highlights the novelist's re-prioritization, through such a geographical realignment, of socio-economic concerns for Asian American literary criticism. In assessing Yamashita's works as such, the author designates her novelistic art as a form of new Asian American literary avant-garde that operates from the peripheries of received histories, aesthetics, and disciplines. Seeking not only to demonstrate the importance of Yamashita's transnational art, the book also sets new terms for ongoing dialogues in Asian American literary and cultural criticism. At the same time, it argues for the continuing relevance of Asian American literature as a self-reflexive and self-renewable critical practice.