BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Typical American by Gish Jen [in What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature]

Typical AmericanYifeng Chang arrives in the U.S., is renamed “Ralph” by an impatient official, and pursues an engineering degree. He is reunited with his older sister, Theresa, marries Helen, and moves to suburbia in search of the American Dream where he discovers fried chicken fast food joints, glamour magazines, and con artists.

The title comes from the phrase, “typical American,” which the Changs use in moments of exasperation and disgust at how they initially view Americans – wasteful, lazy, rude, etc. But eventually what begins as an insult quickly turns into a lifestyle goal of wanting to become “typical Americans” with a suburban house, wall-to-wall carpeting, two-car garage, magazine subscriptions, and take-out fried chicken for dinner.

Review: “Asian American Titles,” What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature, Gale Research, 1997

Readers: Adult

Published: 1991


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