• talastra

    In your footnote, you mention the premise of Tan’s book. What is the that premise?


    • Sauvik Biswas

      @talastra, The premise as well as the thought process and the sources has been well documented by Mr. tan himself in http://www.shauntan.net/books/the-arrival.html#anchor

      The article in question deduces the content correctly (it’s too simple to get the story wrong). The author (is it you or someone you know?) compares the content and the subtext of the book with works from many other fields. I found the writing interesting (which is why I had cited it) but I couldn’t come to a conclusion if he liked the book or disliked it. Or, was it an academic exercise, with a very neutral unbiased stance on the author’s part.

      Thanks and Regards,

      • talastra

        Reading the blog post, it seems highly critical of Tan’s conceit to present some sort of “universal” human experience of emigration, especially where Snow Leopard writes:

        Of course, the text gets read primarily by those already colonized and to the children of colonists; it less frequently gets read by those who would emigrate. So the happy ending serves less often to “seduce” foreigners to hazard coming to the strange land (because they will achieve the happy ending) and more to reassure the colonialists and their children that those who do immigrate have received fair treatment upon their arrival, which doesn’t usually prove the case. It certainly ignores completely that some classes of people simply weren’t permitted into the country at all, whether those now interdicted post-9/11 or those who once had entry denied them by the 1924 Johnson Immigration Bill, that excluded or severely restricted quotas for Jews, Italians, Greeks, Eastern Europeans, Slavs, and generally anyone not northern European, &c. None of that story is here; on the contrary, the land that receives people in Tan’s book seems positively contrasted with bad regimes people have left from.

      • Hullo Sauvik:

        First, thanks for the link and the comment.

        I do not consider any of my blog posts as academic exercises, and also, I try not to get bogged down in the trivia of whether I like or dislike a book. My attempt to write a reply (rather than a review) comes out of the notion that in the interaction between “myself” and the “text” then something might emerge that would not have otherwise come about in the world. (I get this idea more or less from Bakhtin.)

        That said, I find Tan’s book very brown-nosey. It kisses up to the tyranny of assimilation demanded generally by receiving cultures. To put it polemically: especially in the United States, a supposed melting pot, the more you cling to whatever culture and identity you bring with you from across the sea, the further down on the social scale you will be relegated. Or, as is the case in the African-American experience, no matter how much you attempt to assimilate, you will still get kept down.

        As a note about your article, you say that Tan identifies with the protagonist–perhaps, but not as an immigrant. Tan represents a native-born Australian. Whatever sense of alienation he draws upon to depict his protagonist, it is not one that comes from being born abroad and then trying to fit into the new world.

        And perhaps that is what makes this book so false to me. I objected in my blog that Tan’s protagonist seems to differ from those in the receiving country only in the sense that he cannot speak their language; he is otherwise already culturally “them”. This highly falsifies much of the emigrant experience as I’ve heard it described to me, while telling a tidy little lie about the “rewards” available to those who fully assimilate.

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