The question “what is Asian American?” continues to perplex. The term has to come to encompass so many unwieldy ethnicities, generations, and geographies, and yet some working definition needs to exist to invigorate the notion of community. Organizers, writers, and scholars have explored the political alliances, institutions, and artistic practices that give “Asian American” shape, however amorphously.
But what about pop culture? Is there something similarly cohesive about cheering on Jabbawockeez, binging KevJumba, singing to Lea Salonga, typing AZN, dancing Bhangra, or lowering Honda Civics? That’s the thesis behind RISE: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now, an illustrated primer on the best (and worst) of Asian American music, movies, graphic novels, food, and celebrity. It’s the brainchild of three icons of Asian American media: culture writer Jeff Yang, Angry Asian Man Phil Yu, and Wong Fu cofounder Philip Wang. Alongside a who’s-who of contributors, they bring together three decades of pop history, a nostalgic look back on the jagged paths to community, and an inspired vision for a national cultural movement.
Join RISE authors for a special talk about the book—its inspirations, contradictions, and aspirations—and a post-panel outdoor reception.* Copies of RISE will be on hand, sold by local Asian American-owned bookseller Comickaze Comics.
*RISE authors in attendance are TBD.