Exploring the identity, heart and soul of a community.
Monday, December 26, 2016
An Interview with Ken Liu: On Boston's Chinatown and Chinatowns in general
I read Ken Liu's "The Regulator" which depicts Judith Law, a mixed race
half Chinese cyborg like detective fighting crime in Boston, with an office
above a restaurant in Chinatown.
I knew that Ken had lived in other places so I was curious
what his connection to Boston's Chinatown was. This Christmas my family and
Chinatown Blog Contributor Adriana Li had the opportunity to visit other Chinatowns in
Brooklyn and also in Philadelphia. I think we learned first hand what Ken Liu
put very concisely into words in our interview. The question I asked was
wht his ties to Boston;s Chinatown were and how he compared living
in other places with Boston.
"Boston’s Chinatown is not like anywhere else in the world.
Its history is a reflection of the history of America’s shifting attitudes
toward Chinese immigrants as well as the very American (and ongoing)
struggles of its inhabitants.
If you have a conversation with a business owner or resident of Chinatown,
you learn a lot about the stories beneath the superficial newspaper reports.
There’s a misconception that somehow “Chinatowns” all over America
(or even the world) are similar to each other.
Parts of my family have roots in the Chinatowns of Oakland and NYC,
and they’re as different from each other as they’re from the Chinatown
in Boston, which I’ve gotten to know as a visitor. They are, however,
all distinctly American and reflect the essence of these United States,
both the shiny parts as well as the not-so-beautiful parts."
I think you can see a lot of that statement in the many posts I have done and stories
I have shared... often raising eyebrows within the Chinatown community because while
people with differing opinions may talk openly with me... it is not always the case that
these mutual friends of mine will talk with each other.
But I think it was very eye opening to see how other communities do it
. Of course we just ate in these communities. It would be more cool to
maybe do some interviews, hang out with some of the local organizations.
I was surprised to see that Philly has a Buddhist Temple, just as New York's
Manhattan Chinatown does... where Boston's Chinatown does not.
It would be cool to check out the Family Associations in Boston and in other Cities
and compare notes. I guess this could be done over social media, so it shouldn't be that hard to do.
ie I should get on that.
I guess I didn't think about the differences as much until Ken Liu mentioned it. The truth is I know that
there are connections to a lot of the Chinatowns. At the very least, my Sifu has members of the
same village (Hing dai) in communities or in volved in the Chinese communities in locations
all over the world, and the Family and political Associations do talk to each other,
if only by mail correspondence.
But as Ken Liu points out.. of course each Chinatown is it's own community.
But also, in this Social Media age... it's not hard to connect in a more meaningful way
than has been done in the past, and with little or no cost.
More to come from our e-mail Interview with Ken Liu