Hard Love Province, a new book of poetry from Marilyn Chin, came out in 2014. It is a collection of nuanced elegies, high-flying love songs and unforgettable quatrains.
The book won Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the National Prize for Literature on racism and diversity. Among its winners there were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The Award Ceremony will take place on September 10th, at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland.
An uproarious debut that lays bare the complicated generational relationships of Chinese American women.
Raucous twin sisters Moonie and Mei Ling Wong are known as the “double happiness” Chinese food delivery girls. Each day they load up a “crappy donkey-van” and deliver Americanized (“bad”) Chinese food to homes throughout their southern California neighborhood. United in their desire to blossom into somebodies, the Wong girls fearlessly assert their intellect and sexuality, even as they come of age under the care of their dominating, cleaver-wielding grandmother from Hong Kong. They transform themselves from food delivery girls into accomplished women, but along the way they wrestle with the influence and continuity of their Chinese heritage.
Marilyn Chin’s prose waxes and wanes between satire and metaphorical lyric, referencing classical Chinese tales and ghost stories that are at turns sensual, lurid, hilarious, shocking, and surreal.
“Wildly profane and funny riffs on folklore, chronicling the adventures of two very modern Chinese-American sisters.” – KIRKUS REVIEW
“The poet Marilyn Chin’s first novel is a nicely mischievous cacophony of ornery backchat: satirical, political and violent. Drawing on ancient Chinese lore and contemporary Americana.” – The Guardian
“In the telling, Chin expertly alternates between straight-forward, riot-grrrl-style narrative and gorgeously surreal allegory, imbuing the twins’ generic, suburban angst with enchanted Boddhisatvas and magnificent pigeons, who will forever search for Grandmother Wong in paradise.” – Union Tribune
Marilyn reads Parable of the Cake.
Marilyn reads Monologue: Grandmother Wong’s New Year Blessings.
A fusion of east and west, high culture, popular culture, and ancient Chinese history mark this distinguished collection.
Marilyn Chin, with her multilayered, multidimensional, intercultural singing, elegizes the loss of her mother and maternal grandmother and tries to unravel the complexities of her family’s past. She tells of the trials of immigration, of exile, of thwarted interracial love, and of social injustice. Some poems recall the Confucian “Book of Songs,” while others echo the African American blues tradition and Western railroad ballads. The title poem references the Han Dynasty rhapsody but is also a wild, associative tour de force. Political allegories sing out with personal revelations. Personal revelations open up to a universal cry for compassion and healing. These songs emerge as a powerful and elegant collection: sophisticated yet moving, hard-hitting yet refined.
Chin’s concerns for heritage and descent, matched with confrontational rhetoric, seem to make her an old-school poet of Asian-American identity, while a liberal use of autobiographical material (her grandmother, her parents, her neighborhood, her lovers, her English department) positions her speaker as a representative witness to modern, multicultural, middle-class California. – Publishers Weekly
An essay by Jean Larson.
Marilyn reads an exerpt.
Marilyn Chin has been widely recognized as a consummate poet of the hybrid experience, blending East and West, popular and high culture, personal and political. Praised for its streetwise lyricism, this groundbreaking volume captures a young immigrant woman’s perspective as she encounters the nexus of tradition and commercialism in modern, diverse, and urban California. With this new edition, a modern classic is reintroduced to a new generation of readers.
Chin writes with a toughened lyricism that persuades us of the poet’s firm life knowledge: she never imputes to experience (or poetry) a false or wishful glamour. – Publishers Weekly
The strongest poems in Chin’s second collection present an immigrant’s view, combining old stories and sensibilities with an American idiom. – Library Journal
Chin’s first collection of verse, Dwarf Bamboo, which she dedicated to the Communist poet and revolutionary Ai Qing, contains many poems that focus on the immigrant experience in the United States. Critics have praised Chin’s poetry for its unflinching examination of the contradictory feelings brought on by immigration in general and for Asian Americans specifically. Chin’s openness about female sexuality and the social roles of women of color-in particular the image of Asian women as exotic and doll-like-and her frequent references to the revolutionary movement in China have earned her a reputation as an important political feminist poet. Chin is known for producing spare, often confrontational, poetry that explores her experience as a first-generation Chinese-American and a woman of color in the United States, as well as social and political injustices in her native China.