Have you read the new novel by Gary Shteyngart? The reviews are everywhere, from The Atlantic to the San Francisco Chronicle to the New York Times. The “love story” in this dystopian epistolary satire involves Lenny Abramov, a homely, balding, 39-year-old Jewish man from Flushing, New York, and 24-year-old Eunice Park, a Korean American from Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Shteyngart makes great emphasis of the “Korean American” component. But does he do it in a way that’s smart or trite?
One Wall Street Journal reviewer writes:
“Mr. Shteyngart gives a good deal of attention to the anomalies and similarities of Jewish and Korean families. Although he has done commendable homework (Korean words like yamjanae, meeguk salam, ajumma and dolsot bap stick in the narrative like currants in a bun), the members of the Park family—the angry father, the hand-wringing mom, the chubby sister, their dreams and aspirations—feel as clichéd as the Irish and Jewish families in the old Broadway hit ‘Abie’s Irish Rose.’ Eunice’s mother writes emails to her daughter: ‘Dating nice boy extra. But all the time you must to be careful with him because you are woman. Do not give away mystery. Are they any korea boy in rome?’ This kind of thing is doubtless meant in good fun, but it feels lame, as do the ethnic-joke riffs that dot the narrative.”
This Thursday, KoreAm editor-in-chief Kai Ma will be speaking in a panel discussion alongside some of our favorite writers at the Asian American Journalists Association convention in Los Angeles. If you’ll be there, check it out!
A Hyphenated World
2:30PM TO 3:30PM, LOS FELIZ, 3RD FLOOR
PRESENTERS: JEFF YANG, COLUMNIST, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE; BERNICE YEUNG, HYPHEN MAGAZINE CO-FOUNDER/BOARD CHAIR AND FREELANCE JOURNALIST; DIANA NGUYEN AND JEN WANG, BLOGGERS, DISGRASIAN.COM; CYNTHIA WANG, ASSISTANT EDITOR, PEOPLE; OILVER WANG, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN SOCIOLOGY, CSU-LONG BEACH; KAI MA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, KOREAM
Journalists, every day, are challenged to report on a diverse and multicultural world. This panel discussion shines a light on the stereotypes prevalent in media today — with a focus on Asian Americans in Hollywood – and offers insight into covering a world rich in nuances and culture.
He’s witty, he’s informative — and now he’s been featured by the New York Times. “The Korean,” the anonymous blogger behind the popular website Ask A Korean!, gives us a glimpse of who he is: a 29-year-old associate at a major Manhattan law firm who relishes his role as a “cultural interpreter.” Through astonishingly thorough blog posts, he gives insight into Korea and Koreans, answering questions like “Why do Koreans hate Japanese?” “Do Koreans eat dogs?“and “How do I pick a Korean among Asians just by looking at them?” Read, laugh and walk away educated.
Here’s a sneak peak of the new collaboration between Poketo and Target. The full collection will be available at Target stores across the country on August 10. Can’t wait!
It looks like South Koreans will be waiting a while before they get their hands on the coveted iPhone 4. The supergadget releases at the end of July in 17 countries including Singapore and Hong Kong, but not in Korea. And it seems that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is blaming the Korean government.
“It’s going to take just a little bit longer to get government approval there,” Jobs said at a press conference. But as reported by The Choson Ilbo, Korea never received an application.
“The Korea Communications Commission, which gives the green light to sales of electronic communications devices, issued a quick response denying responsibility, saying the Radio Research Agency has yet to receive an application to test the electromagnetic frequency levels of the iPhone 4.
KT, the distributor, appears to have been caught off guard. On its website it published the full text of Apple’s response to its queries in which the company admits that a delay in its preparation is behind the two-month postponement.”
Many are also upset about another comment Jobs made at the press conference. When asked about the iPhone 4′s reception glitches, he complained of an American press campaign against Apple. “Would you rather that we were a Korean company, instead of an American company?” he asked.
Korea saw its first iPhone, the 3GS offered in 2009, almost three years after the U.S. launch of the original iPhone.
Photo from Fast Company