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Asia-Pessimism: Modeling a Revolution in Failure

Asia-Pessimism: Modeling a Revolution in Failure John StreamaS Asia- Pessimism Modeling a Revolution in Failure In her book Asianfail, Eleanor Ty argues that Asian Americans can appropriate failure as a strategy for subverting norms. Her sense of failure derives from the work of queer theorists such as Judith/Jack Halberstam, for whom failure exists not as the paired opposite of mainstream success but rather as a family of evolving strategies for resisting governing structures. For Asian Americans, the stereo- typical “model minority,” strategic failure would therefore be especially appropriate as a rebuke to those structures. Here I propose to show that in narratives of depression, especially recent novels by women, Asian Americans subvert perceptions of the failure that causes depres- sion and suicide by portraying themselves honestly as people who suffer, and occa- sionally even rise above, institutional injustices. That these books are mostly by women serves both to acknowledge the falsehood of the striving “tiger mother” stereotype and to distance these stories from the inner direct-e d anguish of de- pression memoirs by white women. This leads to a corollary argument, for an ap- proach I will call “Asia- Pes simism,” borrowing from recent critical constructions of “Afro-P essimism.” As Jared Sexton, one of its http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Asia-Pessimism: Modeling a Revolution in Failure

The Comparatist , Volume 43 – Nov 15, 2019

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

John StreamaS Asia- Pessimism Modeling a Revolution in Failure In her book Asianfail, Eleanor Ty argues that Asian Americans can appropriate failure as a strategy for subverting norms. Her sense of failure derives from the work of queer theorists such as Judith/Jack Halberstam, for whom failure exists not as the paired opposite of mainstream success but rather as a family of evolving strategies for resisting governing structures. For Asian Americans, the stereo- typical “model minority,” strategic failure would therefore be especially appropriate as a rebuke to those structures. Here I propose to show that in narratives of depression, especially recent novels by women, Asian Americans subvert perceptions of the failure that causes depres- sion and suicide by portraying themselves honestly as people who suffer, and occa- sionally even rise above, institutional injustices. That these books are mostly by women serves both to acknowledge the falsehood of the striving “tiger mother” stereotype and to distance these stories from the inner direct-e d anguish of de- pression memoirs by white women. This leads to a corollary argument, for an ap- proach I will call “Asia- Pes simism,” borrowing from recent critical constructions of “Afro-P essimism.” As Jared Sexton, one of its

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 15, 2019

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