Caroline Rody


On her book The Interethnic Imagination: Roots and Passages in Contemporary Asian American Fiction

Cover Interview of March 13, 2011


Besides calling readers’ and scholars’ attention to a paradigm shift in contemporary Asian American and other ethnic texts, I also hope this book will help spread appreciation for the imaginative work of contemporary fiction.

In the midst of enormous global changes, our writers are out there ahead of most thinkers, it seems to me, in imagining the consequences of the prodigious enmeshment of peoples happening all around us.  They stretch the capacity of inherited literary forms (the novel, the short story) in remarkable ways to accommodate multiplicity and complexity of vision.

Not all of these stagings of encounter render up happiness, by any means. Fraught histories of racialization and intergroup relations haunt many of them, miring their plots of affiliation in uncertainty, foreboding, even grief.  Lee’s Native Speaker, for example, oscillates between visions of the multicultural crowd as resplendent, global assemblage—in lyrical, Whitmanesque invocations of a colorful New York City sublime—and terrifying visions of the crowd as deadly force, one with potentially tragic consequences for the individual and for the home virtues of family, love, and loyalty.

But whether depicting dire or fruitful kinds of interethnic encounters, these texts move us with the seemingly limitless capacity of creative literature to reinterpret and to enrich our experience of the changing world.

© 2010 Caroline Rody