Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Korean poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong, is a novel that consumes readers with the prickling realities of Asian Americans, and the political issues that brought many to the United States. Hong’s familiarity with the essence of poetry can be felt within the details surrounding mental health issues and racist experiences, both of which Hong attributes to the narrow ideals constituting what and who is American. What I find most endearing about this work is the sarcastic tone that develops when Hong or one of her counterparts are forced to tolerate the ignorance minorities often encounter. These moments call one to understand the parallels between Hong’s life and that of the black comedian, Richard Pryor, who night after night, presented the cringe worthy realities of intersectionality between Black and White America. Hong displays this in her choice to include this joke of Pryors, “ I was a kid until I was eight. Then I became a Negro (Hong 38).”
The modernity that is represented via the everyday activities and relationships in Hong’s life, also conveys to the reader the lack of understanding mainstream America has regarding the progression of Asian Americans. To make this apparent, Hong contrasts her success as a writer, with situations which conjure up the minor feelings brought on by microaggressions. Hong, while being interviewed by a white journalist recollects being asked, “ What the real difference was between Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese people (Hong 46).” She later humors us by informing us she crafted this incident into a joke as well. Among Hong’s sub-layers there also lay cultural scrutiny and family reflections that most minorities would never dare say aloud, let alone print. While discussing the flattening of Asian accents in mainstream television Hong states, “I’m of the extreme opinion that a real show about a Korean family -at least the kind I grew up around – is untelevisable. Americans would be both bored and appalled. My God, why can’t someone call Child Protective Services! They’d shout (Hong 99-100).” I guess that’s what makes this memoir so inviting. The biting frankness and blatant sarcasm that leaves you chuckling to yourself, when identifying with the stinging realities that accompany life as a minority, model or not.
For my next post I will be discussing the alluring and beautifully written novel, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. Set in 1950’s Paris the novel painfully details the social temperament straining genuine love in between two male companions. Come back and join me then.
— Andrea Rodriguez, Blogger.
Andrea Rodriguez’s Bio
Fiction & Creative Nonfiction Editor, Social Media Editor, and Copy Editor: Andrea Rodriguez is a senior at Lewis University. Prior to attending Lewis, Rodriguez completed her associates at The College of Dupage. Rodriguez is studying English Literature in order to pursue her career as an academic librarian. As for Rodriguez’s interest, she enjoys spending time with her family, being in nature, taking care of her plants, writing, cooking, and traveling when she can. Additionally, Rodriguez enjoys exploring unique writing styles. Some of her favorite pieces are The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson, and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid. In addition to her roles at JFR, Rodriguez is the President of Lewis’ Sigma Tau Delta Rho Lambda Chapter, of which she is also a member. Rodriguez’s fiction piece, “A Black Boys Guide” was recently published in Windows Fine Arts Magazine (Spring 2020). Visit the JFR blog site to read her blog Musings of a Future Librarian.