Speaking the Past

Child Perspective in the Asian American "Bildungsroman"

By Alicia Otano

Child perspective is a symbolic narrative strategy that designs multilayered possibilities for meaning in ethnic writing. This book positions Asian American bildungsromane in the context of American writing about children, reading them through the lens of their narrators - the oftentimes dual child/adult perspective - to examine how narrative point of view nuances and shapes issues of personal, ethnic, and national positioning. This approach privileges the authors' narrative choices and engagement with genre, revealing how these critical writerly decisions construct texts that signify on multiple levels, and dialogue productively with other texts. Their interpretation and creative negotiation of the key elements of narrative perspective lead us to uncover aspects which are constitutive of the successful manipulation of narrative voice. The texts analyzed in this study demonstrate the flexibility of this narrative technique, and its usefulness as a critical tool though which important thematic issues - family, race, culture, war, assimilation, and language - may be deployed. Reading the way Asian American texts manipulate child perspective positions these texts within developing critical paradigms and allows the reader to examine the manner in which they influence the development of American literature and the theory that reads it.

184 pages

Publication Date: 8/25/2004
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9783825877484