Synopses & Reviews
Why do so many people find Asian women sexy but Asian men sexless?
Alex Tizon's family emigrated from the Philippines when he was four. He quickly learned to be ashamed of his face, his color, his physical size. In movies and on television he saw Asian men as “servants, villains, or geeks, one-dimensional, powerless, sneaky little men.” His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include the story of his own college life in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on just how little sex appeal accrued to the Asian man.
And then, two transformations. First, Tizon's growing understanding that shame is universal; that his own just happened to take racial shape. Next, seismic cultural changes — from Xiu Xiang's 2004 Olympic gold-winning sprint, to Jerry Yang's phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to Keanu Reeves' leading-man status in The Matrix — that draw him out of his exile.
Finally, Tizon's deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man.
"In this investigation into Asian masculinity, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Tizon offers a well-paced, engaging combo of history, memoir, and social analysis. Beginning with a pilgrimage to Cebu in the Philippines, where the conquering European explorer Magellan was killed by the Mactanese, Tizon recounts his troubled past growing up in an America that belittled and erased the complexities of his Asian manhood, and the effect it had on his psyche and his immigrant family ('My parents' adulation of all things white and Western... was the engine of their self-annihilation'). He interweaves stories of Asian men forgotten or ignored by history, such as Zheng He, a 15th-century Chinese admiral who sailed around the world without the bloodlust of the Europeans who came after, as well as examinations of American attitudes toward Asian men as seen in films such as Harold and Kumar. Passages on self-imposed isolation and attempts to hide or mock his Asianness are visceral and painful. Tizon's skill as a feature reporter serves the book well, producing a narrative that moves fluidly between subjects, settings, and gazes. Agent: Paul Bresnick, Paul Bresnick Literary Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Part candid memoir, part incisive cultural study, Big Little Man addresses — and explodes — the stereotypes of Asian manhood. Alex Tizon writes with acumen and courage, and the result is a book at once illuminating and, yes, liberating." Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
"In Big Little Man Alex Tizon fearlessly penetrates the core of not just what it means to be male and Asian in America, but what it means to be human anywhere." Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's memoir, in the spirit of Richard Rodriquez's Hunger for Memory and Nathan McCall's Makes Me Wanna Holler — an intimate look at the mythology, experience, and psyche of the Asian American male.
An award-winning writer takes a groundbreaking look at the experience and psyche of the Asian American male.
Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless. Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height.
His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl. Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth. It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."
And then, a transformation. First, Tizon's growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race. Next, seismic cultural changes — from Jerry Yang's phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to actor Ken Watanabe's emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lin's meteoric NBA rise.
Finally, Tizon's deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man.
About the Author
Alex Tizon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is former Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and longtime staff writer for the Seattle Times. He co-produced a 60 Minutes segment on Third World mail-order brides in Asia, and currently teaches at the University of Oregon. Big Little Man was the winner of the prestigious Work in Progress Prize from the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. Tizon's website is alextizon.com.
Table of Contents
Killing Magellan 1
Land of the Giants 23
Seeking Hot Asian Babes 63
Babes, Continued 81
Asian Boy 93
Tiny Men on the Big Screen 111
Its Color Was Its Size 129
Getting Tall 143
Wen Wu 159
Yellow Tornado 177
“What Men Are Supposed To Do” 197
“One of Us, Not One of Us” 209
Big Little Fighter 223
Authors Note 245
Selected Sources 251