The asia-pacific in Asian American transmigration: Lydia minatoya's the strangeness of beauty

Hsiu Chuan Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper studies the intermingling of the imagination of Asia-Pacific and the formation of Asian America. Analyzing the Japanese American Sansei writer Lydia Minatoya's The Strangeness of Beauty (1999), which portrays the Japanese American experiences in the first three decades of the twentieth century, my reading first grounds the formation of Asian America in Asian Americans' Pacific routes, thereby extending our understanding of Asian America to an Asia-Pacific dimension. Thereafter, I explore how Asian Americans' trans-Pacific trajectories may help constitute an Asia-Pacific imagination embedded in the everyday materiality of this area. Specifically, my analysis hinges on a reading of the "I-story" created by the novel's protagonist-narrator Etsuko Sone. Through an investigation of the discontinuous and relational nature of this "I-story," I argue that The Strangeness of Beauty traces the meanderings and changes of Etsuko's self and life. Instead of reinforcing the monolithic "I" pursued by conventional Western autobiographies, Etsuko's "I-story," which is indebted to the form of modern Japanese autobiographical fiction shi-shosetsu, presents Etsuko as a Japanese American woman ceaselessly re-defined by the spatiotemporal multiplicities of her transmigratory experi-ence across the Pacific. This portrayal of the Asian American "transmigratory" everyday, furthermore, retrieves "Asia-Pacific" from a EuroAmerican construction. The Strangeness of Beauty envisages Asia-Pacific as neither a mythic space of transnation nor a geo-political place constrained by the bipolarity of the East and die West, Asia and America, or Japan and the U.S. It replenishes Asia-Pacific with Asian Americans' engagements with the connections and confrontations within and between Asia, America, and the Pacific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-161
Number of pages23
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun


  • Asia-Pacific
  • Asian America
  • I-story
  • Lydia Y. Minatoya
  • The everyday
  • Transmigration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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