Scrutinized!: Surveillance in Asian North American Literature

ChiuCOVER3.inddChang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker, Kerri Sakamoto’s The Electrical Field, Don Lee’s Country of Origin, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Susan Choi’s A Person of Interest. These and a host of other Asian North American detection and mystery titles were published between 1995 and 2010. Together they reference more than a decade of Asian North America monitoring that includes internment, campaign financing, espionage, and post-9/11 surveillance. Monica Chiu reveals how Asian North American novels’ fascination with mystery, detection, spying, and surveillance is a literary response to anxieties over race.

Scrutinized! is broadly about oversight and insight. The race policing of the past has been subsumed under post-racism—an oversight based on a persistent visual construction of race. Readers revisit Oriental visions, or Asian stereotypes, and then encounter official documentation on major events, such as the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian internment. The former visions, which endure, and the latter documents, diplomatically forgotten, shape how Asian subjects were and are scrutinized and to what effect. They determine which surveillance images remain emblazoned in a nation’s collective memory and which face political burial.

2014 | 208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3842-3 | $45.00s | Cloth
Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies