My publisher requested that I come up with a list of questions that could be used by teachers and students discussing my book GLAMOROUS ASIANS: SHORT STORIES & ESSAYS.
I’ve put the questions here in case readers are interested. I’m also going to include a pdf file for teachers that will be easy to download (I hope!).
Reader’s Guide for GLAMOROUS ASIANS
1. In the first story, a Cambodian goddess (Apsaras) is being interrogated by the
I.N.S. after she is mistakenly fished out of the sea. In the story, Chai mixes various Asian mythologies and philosophies. How many of the different elements can you identify?
2. The Khmer Rouge began a genocidal campaign from 1975-1978 to “cleanse”
Cambodian society of all non-Khmer cultural elements. How does the mixture of
cultural elements in “The Dancing Girl’s Story” counter the Khmer Rouge’s view of
Although time is compressed in the story, can you identify when these various
elements were present in Cambodia’s history? (For example, the Chinese magistrate represents the actual Zhou Daguan who is credited with writing the world’s first account of Cambodian society in the 15th century.)
3. In “Mr. Chu Returns to his Sleeping Wife” and “Nai-Nai’s Last Words,” describe the themes of lost opportunities to communicate with one‘s family and loved ones.
4. In “Easter,” the narrator Shannon describes her mother this way: “It always surprised me how she could almost understand how things were supposed to be done, then just miss doing them that way.” (p. 15) How does this line also embody many of the themes of dislocation and cultural difference in this story?
5. In “Saving Sourdi,” the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of Nea, the younger sister, even though Nea often does not understand the other characters’ motivations. How would the story have been different if it had been told from Sourdi’s point of view?
6. In the title essay, what is Chai’s attitude towards the American beauty industry?
7. In “Yellow Peril,” the author’s father and the Boston Globe reporter are depicted as working on two competing narratives. Compare and contrast how the father views his life in America versus the reporter’s suspicious questions.
8. Compare the interviews in the first story “The Dancing Girl’s Story” and the essay “Yellow Peril.” What is similar about them? What is different? What is the author’s apparent view of the ability to communicate one’s history to an interrogator?
9. Although the book is titled, GLAMOROUS ASIANS, are there elements in the book that are universal to non-Asians as well? What are these elements?
10. Why do you think the author chose the title GLAMOROUS ASIANS when most of the stories do not in fact depict glamorous lives at all?