For Today I Am a Boy Background

For Today I Am a Boy Background

For Today I Am a Boy is the first novel by Canadian author Kim Fu. Its title is derived from a song of the same name by Anthony & The Johnsons. It tells the story of Peter Huang, a first-generation Canadian born to Chinese immigrant parents. Like most Chinese, his parents worship him as the only son amongst a family of daughters. Peter's father's goal for his children is to erase every last shred of their Asian heritage, but Peter's only wish in life is to be a girl. The Huang household is patriarchal, strict, and devoid of any kind of touchy-feely love that Peter needs in order to achieve any kind of self-acceptance.

This kind of ambition in upwardly mobile immigrant families is very familiar to Kim Fu, and she wrote about her anxiety as a first-generation go-getter in "Maisonneuve"magazine. The Chinese characters in her novel are almost stereotypical hard working, quiet Asians; Mr Huang is a civil servant, his wife, silent and servile, and the Huang children, academic superstars driven to succeed or else. Peter is uncomfortable in his own skin, and his sisters also experience large doses of self-loathing, clearly a result of their upbringing. Peter ultimately escapes his dictatorial father and relocates to Montreal where he works in restaurants and has an affair with an older woman who is trying to convince herself that she really isn't a lesbian.

The novel was well-received and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award. It was also the winner of the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.

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