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Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  117 reviews
A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged exploration of the psychological condition of being Asian American, by an award-winning poet and essayist

Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by One World
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This book blew me the heck away, definitely one of the top five essay collections I have ever read. In Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Cathy Park Hong delves into Asian American identity through the lens of history, psychology, and her own lived experience as a Korean American daughter of immigrants. This collection feels so necessary because Asian Americans receive such one-dimensional characterization in the United States: were math whizzes, we have wild tiger parents, were crazy ...more
When I heard about this book and received an Advanced Readers' Copy, I was drawn to the title and the author. I read it in a span of a week, because I wanted to thoroughly absorb, understand and really read Cathy Park Hong's words in this collection of incredibly powerful and raw essays that spoke to me as an Asian American woman. I felt that for once, someone put into words what I have felt all along but I never really had the courage to speak out loud or acknowledge, and Hong explains why, ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have never felt so seen, have never been able to put into wordsmuch less effectively emote to othersfeelings such as being gaslighted since childhood of my own experiences of racism as an Asian American and being made to feel like theyre not worthy of validation. I dont think it was until I started working for an AAPI advocacy organization that I truly started my journey toward racial consciousness, precisely because of this phenomenon Hong calls minor feelings.

There are so many moments in
3.5 stars

Upon finishing Cathy Park Hongs book of essays entitled Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning , I have to admit that I feel a bit conflicted. As an Asian American woman who is close in age to Hong and also grew up in the Los Angeles area like she did, there were many experiences she described in her essays that were absolutely familiar to me for example, struggling with identity and belonging, being discriminated against due to my race, feeling like I oftentimes have to explain
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
Wow. All the things I felt growing up put into a book and hearing my voice is at once disturbing and freeing at the same time. These essays at once give you history along with how Asian Americans feel in this world. Not white. Not black. Denied by both. Accepted by none.

"Asians lack presence. Asians take up apologetic space."

I have SO many things I want to say here and there are SO MANY quotes within this book. I remember in a literature class in college, we were reading a book that had an
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am obsessed with this book. This book is Mariah Carey singing Why you so obsessed with me? and I'm whoever that song is written about (rumor is its about Eminem). Minor Feelings is a thought-provoking, insightful, smart collection of essays that delve into Asian American history, identity and psychology. But rather than rehashing and reexamining the same stereotypes and issues or throwing up a trendy #RepresentationMatters, Cathy Park Hong gives us an honest examination and refreshing ...more
Sachi Argabright
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-but-unread
MINOR FEELINGS is an extremely honest and original collection of essays focused on the Asian American experience. By blending history and cultural criticism with stories from her own past, this book highlights the complexities of being Asian in America. Many dont realize that the Asian American demographic is so wide, and many times the group is reduced to and/or misidentified as Chinese or Japanese. Even within groups such as Southeast Asian, South Asian, East Asian, and Pacific Islander there ...more
Auderoy Lin
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it

There was no reason for me to be depressed. But anytime I was happy, the fear of an awful catastrophe would follow, so I made myself feel awful to preempt the catastrophe from hitting.

For as long as I could remember, I have struggled to prove myself into existence.

In the popular imagination, Asian Americans inhabit a vague purgatorial status: not white enough nor black enough; distrusted by African Americans, ignored by whites, unless we're being used by whites to keep the black man down.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is groundbreaking, brilliant - when was the last time I read a creative nonfiction book about Asian America? Yeah, probably never. What a gift this is!

Claudia Rankine described Minor Feelings as penetrating and that feels like the perfect word. Minor Feelings is cultural criticism, its history, its personal, but I also think Hongs background in poetry shines through, and her words are truly beautifully, precisely, and incisively curated. As an Asian American, the clear-eyed truths of
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley for this e-ARC, all opinions are my own.

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is a collection of essays on race not from the binary of black and white, but through the experiences of what she deftly points out is a difficult label - Asian American. The first few essays feature memoir and cultural critique that it personal and a profound look at how white supremacy ensures that no matter how hard someone strives for the power and privilege that whiteness gifts, they will continue
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
minor feelings: the radicalized range of emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having ones perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed.

this book blew me away with its perceptiveness and honesty. there was so much in here that ive felt my entire life but never had the language to express. but not only that, so much intention and research went into this book. i learned a lot about
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
Outstanding essay collection! I love it when poets write prose - and I've never read Cathy Park Hong's work before, so I was sufficiently blown away. Hong writes about the challenges of writing about an Asian American identity, Asian Americans as both oppressed & oppressors. For her meditations on race, my favorite essay was on her friendships during her college days and coming-of-age as an artist/poet. This is one of those books that made me reflect on how I'm never going to be able to ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I don't normally read non-fiction, but when I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to check it out. Minor Feelings is a thought provoking series of essays tackling elements of the Asian American experience. I'm not actually sure where to start this review. Minor Feelings had passages that made me pause. As a Chinese American there were similarities and differences to my
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure that the title and blurb of Minor Feelings give a completely accurate impression of what the book is about - in short, I can see someone picking this up expecting a meditation on the Korean American immigrant 'experience', and instead, encountering a series of essays that are much more concerned with making art while happening to be Korean American. Indeed, part of Hong's achievement here is to demonstrate the deadness of familiar questions such as 'Can white people write characters ...more
Adrian Chiem
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have, in the past two years, finally understood that I long identified myself as gay before I identified myself as Chinese or Asian-American. It was not for not trying in moments when I was overwhelmed by first-generation guilt in college, I found myself instead grappling with letting my mother into my world (which is to say, coming out), and let that conflict wash through my concepts of Hong describes as "indebtedness." I'm now finding myself craving creative and narrative expressions of ...more
Never Without a Book
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
No words I put here today can express how amazing this book is. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong is just flipping BRILLIANT, yes, in all caps! As a minority working in corporate America, I felt like Asians were the preferred minority, Hong mentions this and what she says about the topic was like a light bulb turn on. Reading about Asian Americans suffrage of racism and discrimination, blew my mind and I was taken back on how much some of their pain reflects on those ...more
Annabel Wang
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was so so excited to read this book! It wasn't as amazing or insightful as I had hoped but there were some good nuggets in there that I thought made this book worth a 4 instead of 3. My greatest issues were that her writing is relatively disorganized (like there isn't a key takeaway in each section). This makes the book much longer than it needs to be. It also puts her book in this confusing status of memoir or critical essays about Asian American identity - neither of which it does well. The ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Whew, this book. I loved Hongs discussion of the artistic process for herself & other Asian American creatives working within/against/around/through racism and the white gaze. She doesnt hide her frustration, her Ive had it up to here. She deftly ties her experience as a Korean American with the related AND distinct experiences of Asian Americans, Black Americans, and Latinx Americans. Her concept of Minor Feelings effectively articulates the malignant build-up of racist practices & ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Some essays are stronger than others, but overall this is a very powerful book. I loved how the author handled so many delicate topics in a way that showed that she herself didn't have all the answers. It honestly made me think and reflect on so many everyday parts of life, and I found myself sending quotes to friends and at unrelated points in my day reflecting on some of the points the author made.
Thomas Feng
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
what a breath of fresh air!! I was surprised by how quickly I read it books this perceptive usually take me longer, but the style is both sharp and conversational and I dashed through it. i may need another time through to really feel if it all really sticks but the first time through was a comfort, and with finally a healthy dose of rage to go with the classic Asian-American melancholy.

an entire chapter on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha?? its what we needed (though it left me wanting more... in fact
The Artisan Geek
Feb 28, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: bookcase
Yet another amazing find on my book scavenging hunt last week!! Very happy with this one!! :D

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"The Rise of white nationalism has led to many nonwhites defending their identities with rage and pride... ...But a side effect of this justified rage has been a "stay in your lane" politics in which artists and writers are asked to speak only from their personal ethnic experiences. Such a politics not only assumes racial identity is pure -- while ignoring the messy lived realities in which racial groups overlap--but reduces racial identity to intellectual property.
"The soul of innovation
Sejal Shah
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading. Hong's writing is sharp, the personal stories, Asian American history, and cultural critique are necessary and vital. She's also a tremendous essayist--some sentences stopped me in my tracks.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel like I came into this book hypercritical out of an impulse that Hong identifies within herself in the first essay, when she talks about doing her MFA and avoiding writing about race to avoid being branded as an identitarian. Specifically thinking that "the subject of Asian identity itself was insufficient and inadequate unless it was paired with a meatier subject, like capitalism." Part of me is convinced that this is actually the right outlook, but now like Hong does, I wonder if it also ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-america
I highlighted so many passages of this book that the Kindle screen now looks Day Glo. Park Hong's observations strongly resonated with my experience (also 1st gen Asian [Chinese] American with parents I had to translate for, around the same age, and also pursued an English degree in school), and her essays hold such a bounty of carefully-thought out passages about what it really means to have been Americans for so long, yet perpetually on the fringes/cast as the "silent" character; since ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Mind-blowing exploration of the background, history and insidiousness of racism pertaining to Asian Americans. So up to the minute current it's meme-able. Cathy Park Hong says stuff I've thought about but could never put so eloquently, yet she also inserts awful images in my head that I can't get out.

I don't like reading poetry or philosophy, but Minor Feelings was like a strange combination of the two that I couldn't get enough of. Park Hong's research, analysis and writing are all amazing;
Shejanul Islam
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An introspection of Asian American identity that exposes the myth of model minority- a role that is given to Asian Americans by US to do the work of white supremacy, perpetuate the glory of capitalism, while suppressing the humanity of Asian Americans. Cathy doesnt virtue signal by admitting her own privilege. Instead, she opens up herself in order to examine the broader issues of racism, capitalism, and how her family both suffered and benefitted from it. Its a book written for Asian Americans, ...more
Thought-provoking, charged collection of personal essays dealing with Asian American history, identity and psychology. Hong is at her best when she effortlessly moves between intimate snapshots of her life with a mixture of social history (such as the 1992 LA Riots) as well as literary criticism: 'United', 'Stand Up' and 'Portrait of An Artist' (standout essay on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha) deserve highlight. Very accessible, almost loose, prose style which was a little disappointing given Hong's ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was such an experience that to write only about the book itself and not what it has done to me seems wrong. So, I fear, this may get a little personal.

To begin simply, although we have our marked differences, the way Hong and her subjects resonated with me was uncanny. From studying writing and art at a college in Ohio, navigating friendship through mental illness, being drawn to writers and artists such as Hito Steryl, Ocean Vuong, Emily Jungmin Yoon, Jos Charles, and most
Rachel León
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, read-in-2020
I was going to give it 4 stars, then read the ending and now theres only one possible rating. ...more
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Cathy Park Hongs book of creative nonfiction, Minor Feelings, was published in Spring 2020 by One World/Random House (US) and Profile Books (UK). She is also the author of poetry collections Engine Empire, published in 2012 by W.W. Norton, Dance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Translating Mo'um. Hong is the recipient of the Windham-Campbell ...more

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“Patiently educating a clueless white person about race is draining. It takes all your powers of persuasion. Because it’s more than a chat about race. It’s ontological. It’s like explaining to a person why you exist, or why you feel pain, or why your reality is distinct from their reality. Except it’s even trickier than that. Because the person has all of Western history, politics, literature, and mass culture on their side, proving that you don’t exist.” 0 likes
“One characteristic of racism is that children are treated like adults and adults are treated like children. Watching a parent being debased like a child is the deepest shame. I cannot count the number of times I have seen my parents condescended to or mocked by white adults. This was so customary that when my mother had any encounter with a white adult, I was always hypervigilant, ready to mediate or pull her away. To grow up Asian in America is to witness the humiliation of authority figures like your parents and to learn not to depend on them: they cannot protect you.” 0 likes
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