This annotation is for a paper I am currently writing for my ENGL 391W course at Queens College on Science Fiction. I will be conducting an analysis of the science fictional and magical realist elements in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange and the novel’s implications on contemporary discourses about globalization. See my prospectus here.
Chuh, Kandice. “Of Hemispheres and Other Spheres: Navigating Karen Tei Yamashita’s Literary World.” American Literary History 18.3 (2006): 618-637. Print.
Chuh’s article responds to the compulsion in Asian American literary studies to examine “occluded east-west connections” at the expense of neglecting ties between north and south (618). In order to address this significant gap in critical scholarship, she demonstrates the importance of engaging in hemispheric studies as a means to “look within and among but also beyond the Americas… to challenge the discursive centrality of the US” (619). By exploring this north-south dynamic, in relation to discourses about east and west, it becomes possible for us to reexamine and reconfigure our conception of America as a closed national space and instead examine the “Americas” from a broader, more nuanced perspective of its relationship to other communities and peoples. Chuh claims that Yamashita’s fiction provides the ideal model for considering the “impact of hemispheric approaches on Asian American literary discourse and the impact of Asian American literatures on hemispheric studies” because it does not conform to neat spatial or ideological categories (621). For instance, the “centrality of Brazil” to most of Yamashita’s work rejects normative conceptions of the national spaces often associated with Asian American fiction (620). In the article, Chuh analyzes in particular Yamashita’s Brazil-Maru and Circle K Cycles, which involve significantly different characters, histories, and geographies, from those that I will explore in Tropic of Orange, but many of the arguments she makes about the formation of global communities and identities remain relevant to my project. For instance, drawing upon Alex Woloch’s study, her identification of Yamashita’s characters as “character-spaces,” in which “individual importance and motivation” are relegated to the background “in favor of assessing how their dynamic interrelations… constitute the narrative,” provides an interesting means to interpret the “Hypercontexts” grid that opens Tropic of Orange as well as the novel’s complex interweaving of narrative voices (626). Finally, I would also like to extend Chuh’s consideration of the intersection between Asian American literature and hemispheric studies towards a more comprehensive analysis of how Tropic of Orange’s particular hemispheric and global perspective collapses boundaries between distinct genres and in doing so, intervenes in current discourses on globalization.