Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Hardcover)
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Hardcover)
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This is a book I wish I'd had when I was younger. It complicates Asian American identity and examines what it means to be an artist in such an honest and insightful way. Minor Feelings would be worth the cover price just for the chapter on the murder of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, which flat-out messed me up.
A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human
“Brilliant . . . To read this book is to become more human.” —Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.
With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.
About the Author
Cathy Park Hong is the author of three poetry collections including Dance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Engine Empire. Hong is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in Poetry, The New York Times, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Boston Review, and other journals. She is the poetry editor of The New Republic and full professor at the Rutgers University–Newark MFA program in poetry.
“Cathy Park Hong’s brilliant, penetrating, and unforgettable Minor Feelings is what was missing from our shelf of classics. She brings acute intelligence, scholarly knowledge, and recognizable vulnerability to the formation of a new school of thought she names minor feelings. In conversation with Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings, Hong charts her emotional life as a Korean American immigrant woman, thereby shattering the concept of a single story of the Asian experience. Minor Feelings builds through what Hong names a ‘racialized range of emotions,’ which are routinely dismissed by others. To read this book is to become more human.”—Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
“Minor Feelings is anything but minor. In these provocative and passionate essays, Cathy Park Hong gives us an incendiary account of what it means to be and to feel Asian American today. Minor Feelings is absolutely necessary.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees
“Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings truly delivers news we can use. It will educate some and inspire hallelujahs from others; people will productively argue with it, be inspired by it, think and feel with and around it. Hong says the book was ‘a dare to herself,’ and she makes good on it: by writing into the heart of her own discomfort, she emerges with a reckoning destined to become a classic.”—Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts and Bluets
“Minor Feelings is an essayistic investigation of those feelings so hard to name, a mix of the elusive, denied, unexpected, and unexplored—a fierce catalogue of that which has not been named and yet won’t be ignored; an electric intervention, a provocation, and a renewal.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“I seldom finish a book and say we are not ready for what I just read. But we are so not ready for what Cathy Park Hong does in Minor Feelings. And thankfully, she does not care whether we are ready or not. Minor Feelings seals intellectual cracks while patiently revealing emotional and national secrets I was afraid and unwilling to name. Few books change how we talk to each other and whisper to ourselves. Minor Feeling is one of those books that changes the language we use to reckon, to talk, to write, and to hide. Cathy Park Hong sees us. Her vision and execution are so breathtaking. And so genius. And so absolutely scary. Read it. Reread it. It will read you.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“Cathy Park Hong’s book is tremendous. The entire time I read, I was hissing yes and yes and YESSSSS and letting my minor feelings become major feelings, which I think is the glory of a book like this—it takes all the parts of us that we can barely account for and gives them back fully recognized. It felt like having someone sit me down in a chair and say, ‘Your feelings are real’ and ‘This is how we got here’ and ‘Here is a way out’ all at once. It broke my heart with relief.”—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
“A fierce and timely meditation on race and gender issues from [Hong’s] perspective as a Korean American woman . . . Candid and unapologetically political, Hong’s text deftly explores the explosive emotions surrounding race in ways sure to impact the discourse surrounding Asian identity as well as race and belonging in America. . . . A provocatively incisive debut nonfiction book.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this blistering essay collection . . . [Cathy Park Hong] is both angry and wryly funny. . . . Her confrontational prose maintains a poet’s lyricism. . . . Combining cultural criticism and personal exploration, Hong constructs a trenchant examination of race in America.”—Publishers Weekly