American Knees Background

American Knees Background

American Knees is a fictional novel written by Shawn Wong published in 1995 by Simon & Schuster. In 2005, it was re-issued by the University of Washington Press.

The novel was first published when Wong was 45. When asked about the title in an interview, Wong stated: "When I was a child, kids used to come up to me and ask, 'What are you: Chinese, Japanese or Americanese?", while some asked if I was "Chinese, Japanese or dirty knees?"

Later channeling these words into his novel, Wong incorporates themes of cross-cultural socialization. The novel was met with generally positive reviews, with author Jessica Hagedorn calling it a "witty, tender, wise, and sexy new novel." David Wong Louie, of the LA Times Book Review, also praised the novel, saying that Wong "overturns the racial stereotypes perpetuated against Asians in this country."

The novel follows protagonist Raymond Ding, a Chinese American man in his mid-thirties living in Seattle, Washington. He is a professor of Asian American Studies and is living with a white woman named Emily. He is still in love with his ex-wife, Kwan, a Chinese immigrant. The story follows the intersecting lives of Raymond, Emily, and Kwan, as they explore their relationships with one another and the culture and history of the Chinese-American community. As Raymond and Emily grow closer, Raymond is forced to confront his identity as both an Asian American and a man. His struggle to reconcile his past with his present is explored through the story's compelling narrative. Through this exploration, the reader is provided with a complex view of the intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender. Ultimately, American Knees is a powerful story of love, identity, and personal growth.

A movie adaptation of the novel, written and directed by Eric Byler, is called Americanese. It was released in 2006 and received awards for Best Narrative Feature, Outstanding Ensemble Cast, and Best Actor.

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