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Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  9,912 ratings  ·  1,424 reviews
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong's theory of "minor feelings." As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these "minor feelings" occu ...more
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by One World
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  9,912 ratings  ·  1,424 reviews

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Nov 28, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book when Hong talks broadly about how the Asian-American experience fits in the minority conversation, the way being an invisible minority makes you question the validity of your issues, and the intersectionality of black people’s experience with racism. She also makes great points about how Asian artists (like many other POC) have to craft stories that are large and racially traumatic enough of a spectacle for others to consume, as well as the e ...more
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: we’re math whizzes, we have wild tiger parents, we’re craz ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have never felt so seen, have never been able to put into words—much less effectively emote to others—feelings such as being gaslighted since childhood of my own experiences of racism as an Asian American and being made to feel like they’re not worthy of validation. I don’t 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
Adam Dalva
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Devoured it - especially loved "An Education," about college friendships, and "Portrait of an Artist", a look at the horrendous killling of the great Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Cathy Park Hong is an excellent writer, and she provoked me in the best way - I thought, I adjusted, I saw the world differently ...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, bea ...more
Can I write honestly? Not only about how much I’ve been hurt but how I have hurt others? And can I do it without steeping myself in guilt, since guilt demands absolution and is therefore self-serving? In other words, can I apologize without demanding your forgiveness? Where do I begin?

Minor Feelings marks my 150th book of 2020, and it’s a good one for a milestone! These essays, conveyed through discursive fragments, are written with such clever, powerful eloquence. I adored its intersectiona
3.5 stars

Upon finishing Cathy Park Hong’s 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 expl
It takes reading this to realize two things:
1) There might not be any book quite like this one.
2) That's a sad thing.

Asian Americans have been underrepresented in both the increase in societal discussion of race, and in my literary attempts to respond to it. I've been attempting to remedy that this year in picking up more works by Asian authors, and I found this - half-memoir, half-antiracist manifesto with an acerbic, compulsively readable voice - to be an excellent way to start.

Sometimes our n
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 Asi
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, audiobook, memoirs
2.5 stars

In the first essay of this collection, Cathy Park Hong describes searching for a Korean therapist, falsely believing that their shared Koreanness will lead to a kinship that will make therapy more productive for her. Hong does find a Korean therapist, but the therapist turns her down without saying why, and Hong begins a jilted lover routine before finally realizing she needs a non-Korean therapist so her depression can get examined objectively, and so she can stop thinking her depressi
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book at times riveting and personal (in that the author shares some private moments that completely captivate the reader), and at other times distancing and more like a historical text (neither of those are bad things). It balances this place of analysis and memoir unlike most non-fiction I read which leans to either side but doesn't find that middle ground.

She reckons with her identity as an Asian American while exploring larger themes of unity, art, friendship, mental health and m
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it
In this collection of essays Cathy Park Hong examines her racial identity as an Asian, cis female, professional, atheist living in the United States. Immediately she's struck by how minor and non-urgent this feels. Compared to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake her specific griefs can feel small. She wrestles with this and the presumptuousness to think she could invoke any sort of Asian we.

These minor feelings in response to micro-aggressions are easily d
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.
Excellent essay collection!! New (to me) perspective. Really enjoyed this!!

4.5 Stars

Read on kindle
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 2 days! It's very compelling and accessible.

This is one of the most clear-eyed and insightful discussions about being Asian American and about race in America. (No, never a hyphen in "Asian American" when talking about the people! Hong doesn't use a hyphen either! The NYT "style" is wrong.)

She is straight-forward and vulnerable in equal measure. Hong conveys insights and analyses that are sharp and provocative. And it is extremely personal, unapologetically personal.

As import
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 it’s 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 persp ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
There were a few essays in here that were really good, but most of them were pretty disjointed and over-written,
Sachi Argabright
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 don’t 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
The blurb: "Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough" is extremely bad and a good reflection of the book. ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
this book is problematic in so many ways. it is a needless take down on brown people from a faux superior academic lens.

it is the typical antagonization of dark asians by a neoliberal east-asian who is striving desperately to uphold the model minority myth and her proximity to whiteness (while discussing the model minority myth, which is truly confounding.)

"But the status of our model minority can change. Currently, Indian Americans are one of the highest-earning groups among Asian Americans, b
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 tho ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author, favorites
Part cultural history, part memoir. Some of the essays hit me more than others but overall a worthwhile read

Watch me discuss it more here:
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I’ve spent my entire life grappling with my identity since arriving in the US from Taiwan at age 9. I was brought up to never forget my Chinese heritage and language, while simultaneously trying to assimilate into an American culture. I finally had a reckoning of my identity during college at UC Berkeley, and once again during this Trump-era rage against race. I am grateful to my Goodreads friend, Thomas, for recommending this phenomenal book to me, because it articulates so well my feelings of ...more
Esther Espeland
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just terrific! The kind of book that I could tell I loved just ten pages in. A stellar example of how to write a book of essays: each balances history, personal memory, and cultural commentary. This was everything I wanted from The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang but didn’t get. I found her essay on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha especially moving (cw for SA). Obviously I was tickled by her scathing review of Oberlin campus culture.
Essential reading, and I cannot recommend the audiobook more highly, as the author performs it absolutely perfectly.

This is about Park Hong wrestling with her lived experience as an Asian American and what that label and identity even means. She's Korean, but what context does -- or doesn't -- that add to the label she's been given? How does it play out in what she writes? In what ways has she or hasn't she been able to truly and authentically express herself, given how limited and colonial the
Wendy Hu
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
When I first started reading this book, I felt that the writing came from a place of such rage and made such sweeping generalizations that I found hard to relate to. Having taken a more traditionally Asian route (engineering) and having grown up Chinese in a diverse part of Canada, I've been fortunate enough to avoid many of Hong's experiences of racism especially in the writing industry in America. As I continued reading, I found myself identifying and sympathizing with some of her experiences ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"[M]inor feelings: the racialized range of emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having one's perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed."
Hands vibrating with excitement, I rushed to buy this essay collection after reading an essay that appeared last month in the New York Times, "The Slur I Never Expected to Hear in 2020." That essay, while not included in this book, nevertheless
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Each essay in here is substantial and impactful; I loved reading all of them, especially the one chronicling the author's artistic formation via her relationships with two close friends in college and the essay on Richard Pryor, Blackness and Asianness, comedy and poetry. The profile of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha is important and tough. Among the best works of nonfiction I've read recently. ...more
I set my entire June TBR list over two months ago, including this book, but it turned out to be an eerily prescient choice. When I was reading the bits about the 1992 L.A. riots, and the parts where she directly addressed anti-back racism in America, I felt such a weird sense of momentous synchronicity. Anyway, the book.

This was nearly a five star read for me, and will likely be a five star book for many. My reasons for not giving it the full five are purely personal preference, and I'll get int
My term “minor feelings” is deeply indebted to theorist Sianne Ngai, who wrote extensively on the affective qualities of ugly feelings, negative emotions—like envy, irritation, and boredom—symptomatic of today’s late-capitalist gig economy. Like ugly feelings, minor feelings are “non-cathartic states of emotion” with “a remarkable capacity for duration."

Cathy Park Hong has written a rich exploration of race from the perspective of Asians - acknowledging the pervasive racism both within the
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Bethlehem Public ...: March 2021: Minor Feelings 1 8 Jan 07, 2021 06:37AM  
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Cathy Park Hong’s 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 Pri ...more

Articles featuring this book

Someday, this year will end! And with the ringing in of 2021, we will come to the end of this year's Goodreads Reading Challenge. Of course,...
208 likes · 105 comments
“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.” 54 likes
“When I hear the phrase “Asians are next in line to be white,” I replace the word “white” with “disappear.” Asians are next in line to disappear. We are reputed to be so accomplished, and so law-abiding, we will disappear into this country’s amnesiac fog. We will not be the power but become absorbed by power, not share the power of whites but be stooges to a white ideology that exploited our ancestors. This country insists that our racial identity is beside the point, that it has nothing to do with being bullied, or passed over for promotion, or cut off every time we talk. Our race has nothing to do with this country, even, which is why we’re often listed as “Other” in polls and why we’re hard to find in racial breakdowns on reported rape or workplace discrimination or domestic abuse. It’s like being ghosted, I suppose, where, deprived of all social cues, I have no relational gauge for my own behavior. I ransack my mind for what I could have done, could have said. I stop trusting what I see, what I hear. My ego is in free fall while my superego is boundless, railing that my existence is not enough, never enough, so I become compulsive in my efforts to do better, be better, blindly following this country’s gospel of self-interest, proving my individual worth by expanding my net worth, until I vanish.” 33 likes
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