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Yellow: Stories

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  427 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
As the Los Angeles Times noted in its profile of the author, "few writers have mined the [genre of ethnic literature] as shrewdly or transcended its limits quite so stunningly as Don Lee." Harking "back to the timeless concerns of Chekhov: fate, chance, the mystery of the human heart" (Stuart Dybek), these interconnected stories "are utterly contemporary,...but grounded in ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published April 1st 2001)
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Nov 21, 2015 Jenny marked it as abandoned-terrible  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to me to see how unlike the others my reaction to this one is. I read the first two stories and part of the third, and quit because by then I felt I had a fair basis to conclude the rest would continue in the same vein: poor characterization, amateur writing at turns, boring and drawn-out themes punctuated with the odd bit of melodrama, and, at least in the two stories I finished, really terrible ending lines that smelled like teenagers' first drafts.

I felt personally disappointed t
Shin Yu
Sep 10, 2013 Shin Yu rated it it was amazing
The linked stories in this short story collection are set in the fictional NoCal coastal town of Rosarita Bay and focus on the everyday lives of Asian American protagonists. Though the characters come from specific cultural experiences and orientations, they are eminently relatable, psychologically rich and complex in their fears, emotions, and desires as they engage and interact in a predominantly liberal white community. The characters are varied and textured in their backgrounds - a surfer/ow ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Rosa rated it liked it
Short stories are not my favorite because I often feel by their conclusion that I was left hanging with a big "And so?" - but their chief asset is that they're able to "hook" you in more immediately than many novels w/ their languidly-paced openings. This collection conforms to the above description in that all of the stories engaged me almost immediately, and all of the endings left me with a big "Whuh?" I do think short stories can be done well; I'm a huge Lorrie Moore & Dan Chaon fan, nei ...more
Tyler True
Feb 14, 2011 Tyler True rated it liked it
This is a fresh, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection of inter-related short stories, probably preparing for a novel to come(?). Its greatest strength is the way it reveals subtleties of Asian-American experience, things many Asian Americans know but struggle to express, things that might not have occurred to many others but that everyone comes to understand. Like a lot of Asian American literature, it strives to provide A-A heroes, which are altogether absent from almost all film and ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Don rated it it was amazing
Superb short stories, all set in a fictional Santa Cruz, CA. Don Lee is a first generation South Korean writer which adds a fascinating cultural mix throughout each story.
Jan 31, 2009 Kennethwarrenwilson rated it it was amazing
Even though these are short stories, he has a way of writing so superbly you have no choice but to care about these characters and relate to them in some way.
May 29, 2012 Robbin rated it really liked it
Now that I finally forced myself through what seems to be the young adult version of this book, I can finally take a breather and review it. First thing's first: I really, really, tend to dislike short stories. I put up with them when I had to read them for class, sure, but generally, I stay away from them. But Yellow was something else. To think, the short stories were actually connected with each other in some way! Since it takes place in an imaginary port town in California, it really threade ...more
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Pretty neutral on this one. I appreciate the skill/research/possibly just ingrained know-how that went into this - every story, it seemed, involved intense description of fairly niche hobbies. I found that some of the most interesting stuff, since the racial themes I expected were so subtle in most of them that I nearly forgot about it (then again, I'm not Asian-American myself, so I can forgive that). Also, a lot of the female characters seemed mentally unstable - a common weakness for male wri ...more
Aug 12, 2008 Sharon rated it liked it
I graduated on to short stories. While I was reading this I got the distinct feeling that I had read it before and forgotten about it. The reason I picked it up (again perhaps) was because Don Lee was an associate professor at Macalester College which is in Saint Paul, not too far from here. None of the stories were too earth-shattering, but they were well-written and easy to read. The only complaint I guess I would have is that sometimes the writing was a little too transparent, like he was ann ...more
Sean Kim
Dec 18, 2012 Sean Kim rated it really liked it
I enjoyed these short stories, which were small vignettes centered around the Asian-American characters in a fictional Bay Area town. They very accurately captured what it feels like to be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Asian citizen of the states, and the kind of isolation it can mean between first and second gen.

My favorite short story, and the longest story in the collection is "Yellow". This story is nothing short of amazing, and if I were rating that short story on its own, I'd rate it 5 sta
Aug 16, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
"Winesburg Ohio" goes to northern California--every story connects somehow to the same small town on the coast. Most are about relationships not going well. Heartbreak from the male perspective. Along the way, details about surfing, boxing, master craftsmanship, like this passage about making furniture:

"Dean aimed for perfection with each chair. With the first kerf of his dozuki saw, with the initial chip of the chisel, he was committed to the truth of the cut. Tradition dictated that any errors
Aug 07, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I read this short story collection in college and have had fond memories of it ever since. Last night my boyfriend asked me to read to him while he undertook a long, complex kitchen project--baozi, actually, which it just occurred to me is pretty fitting--and I decided I really wanted to read him The Price of Eggs in China, which is the first story in Yellow and quite possibly my favorite short story in the world. Reading it five years later, the story was just as fresh, funny, thought-provoking ...more
Mar 15, 2013 David rated it really liked it
One of the best Asian American novel. Series of very interesting lives. As an Asian American, I found the stories very authentic. The author has captured the Asian American experience just right in its tone and subtlety from variety of angles. I wished the stories were much longer. Felt like the author has left a lot of good stories on the table. I think this book, further developed, has the potential to be something like Franzen's Freedom. Highly recommend.
Sep 21, 2007 Jenna rated it really liked it
I'm not usually drawn to books of short stories. It always seemed to me that it would be hard to inject the proper amount of dynamism into a character/characters that are going to last less than a hundred pages. However, I really liked the stories in this book; I just thought the authors did such a thorough job of drawing out these characters. Almost all of the stories drew me in immediately; Voir Dire being the most interesting, I thought.

"oriental hair poet no.2" ahhha.
Aug 09, 2007 Stephen rated it really liked it
I have a new appreciation for this book ever since I moved to Silicon Valley, California. The characters in this book all seem a little bit adrift or quirky, living in a fictional town based upon the area called Half-Moon Bay. This collection of short stories has always been one of my favorites.
Aug 05, 2008 Juan rated it really liked it
Nice collection of related stories - through crossover characters and/or the fictional town of Rosarita Bay, CA - that deal with Asian and Asian-American characters whose challenges and exploits could be those of anyone. Lee writes directly without being dull and without being flowery or poetic. A good read for Asian-Americans and anyone who's experienced life.
Aug 03, 2015 Noemi rated it really liked it
I loved the stories, and liked the way the different stories intertwined.

I felt like some of the characters were a little too similar - confusing narcissistic women and the men who love them. Maybe that's why I liked "The Lone Night Cantina" so much - told from the point of view of an interesting woman, and possibly the only story that passed the Bechdel Test.
Jul 13, 2009 Shelley rated it liked it
Some really good stories sprinkled throughout the book, though pretentious writing lurks around the page. It was more interesting reading Don Lee's interview at the back of this book...he speaks to the creation of "Rosarita Bay" as inspired by his experience with Half Moon Bay. Definitely a great geographical painting of words for those who have known or know the Bay Area.
Jennifer Hu
Not just a perfunctory exploration of the variegated Asian-American experience, the stories in here aspire to and often achieve an integrity of shape, so you find yourself at an appropriate ending that you don't want to reach because you want to keep reading--the exact quality that makes short stories so satisfying to read. Worth a sit-down at your local library/bookstore
Dec 17, 2011 Parker rated it it was amazing
I found this book in my high school library. I was captivated. I absolutely loved reading all the little snapshots into the characters lives. The vibrant, descriptive scenes suck you in until you'll think you're watching the characters through their window instead of the pages of a book. This was a fun read.
Oct 10, 2011 Ke rated it really liked it
The setting and the characters in this collection are quite interesting. Most of the stories carried a lot of tension and I liked how they were realistic. My only complaint about Lee's writing is that he took shortcuts to get inside the characters' heads. That felt like cheating.
Sep 08, 2007 Geeta rated it really liked it
Strong writing, well structured stories. A couple seem weaker than the others, but they all have a strong sense of place and character, which I like. I particularly like "Casual Water," about two boys abandoned by their father, struggling to remain a family.
Dec 29, 2012 Jamie rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I'm not really into ethnic fiction, but I found the stories in this book entertaining. The author's style is well-paced and he throws in enough twists and odd scenarios to lift stories of every day life of Asian Americans into those that say something universally real and valuable about who we are.
Trixie Fontaine
I'm sad that I wrote a whole "review" / made notes on this after I read it, and a browser or internet connection mishap disappeared it. :( I think I rounded up to four stars that time. The stories got better as the book progressed, I think.
Mar 11, 2012 Jjyoo92 rated it liked it
many of the stories are quite forgettable but I liked "Casual Water" and most of all "Yellow". Everything tied together neatly in the end. suggestive of a kind of cultural struggle not nesc. prompted by own background.
Laurie Lichtenstein
May 08, 2013 Laurie Lichtenstein rated it liked it
Very readable collection of stories about the Asian American experience in America. Except its not so much about what makes it different to be an Asian American, but how much they are assimilated. The stories were uneven, some were interesting but others were just strange.
Feb 08, 2016 Kate rated it liked it
The stories all have a general theme. I was hoping to have some more diversity between the stories. Still a great read
Feb 04, 2010 Julie rated it liked it
Very interesting read. I love his intricate descriptions and characters. Lee intertwines the characters making the short stories connected and believable.
Sep 05, 2013 Francisco rated it really liked it
What does this story has to do with the price of eggs in China? Is there a reason why the short stories begin at page 13?
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Don Lee is the author most recently of the novel The Collective. He is also the author of the novel Wrack and Ruin, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize; the novel Country of Origin, which won an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and a Mixed Media Watch Image Award for Outstanding Fiction; and the story collection Yellow, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fic ...more
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