Publishers Weekly
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Stanford lecturer Murphy-Shigematsu's sensitive, revealing inquiry into the multiethnic experience of Asian-Americans succeeds both as a comprehensive ethnic studies volume and an enlightening memoir of pushing back against categorizing humans with singular, rather than multiple identities. As the son of an Irish-American father and a Japanese mother, born in Japan during the post-WWII American occupation when mixed-race children were often seen as a symbol of foreign domination, he adds a personal dimension with his reflections, which allows a deeper comprehension and occasional contrast to the Asian-Americans he profiles. Carefully sequenced interviews and first-person narratives illuminate the quest for identity against conflicting pressures rooted in perception, family loyalty, and racism. Mitzi, half African-American and half Japanese, describes movingly of demanding her identity as "Blackanese," out of loyalty to her mother, while Marshall, a Korean adopted by Jewish parents, tells of searching for his birth parents. With multiculturalism viewed through the skewed and skeptical lens of the American melting pot narrative, the value of Murphy-Shigematsu's book is in confronting the fact that while single nationalities and cultures are somewhat fixed, when blended, they create identities which are fluid-changing through experience, affected by time, and formed by a melding of destiny and choice. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.