Synopses & Reviews
A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human
"Brilliant... To read this book is to become more human." Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times - The Washington Post - NPR - Time - New Statesman - The New York Public Library - Book Riot
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative--and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
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" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality — when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they're dissonant — and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.
With sly humor and a poet's searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche — and of a writer's search to both uncover and speak the truth.
Praise for Minor Feelings
"Hong begins her new book of essays with a bang....The essays wander a variegated terrain of memoir, criticism and polemic, oscillating between smooth proclamations of certainty and twitches of self-doubt.... Minor Feelings is studded with moments of] candor and dark humor shot through with glittering self-awareness." The New York Times
"Hong uses her own experiences as a jumping off point to examine race and emotion in the United States." Newsweek (40 Must-Read Fiction and Nonfiction Books to Savor This Spring)
"Powerful...Hong] brings together memoiristic personal essay and reflection, historical accounts and modern reporting, and other works of art and writing, in order to amplify a multitude of voices and capture Asian America as a collection of contradictions. She does so with sharp wit and radical transparency." Salon
"[A] formidable new essay collection... I read Minor Feelings in a fugue of enveloping recognition and distancing flinch....[Cathy Park] Hong is writing in agonized pursuit of a liberation that doesn't look white — a new sound, a new affect, a new consciousness — and the result feels like what she was waiting for." Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
"Cathy Park Hong's new memoir confronts the tough questions of Asian American identity. Drawing its title from Hong's theory regarding the impact of racial stereotypes and lies on ethnic minorities, this memoir-in-essays is a must-read at a time of rising racist violence and distrust." Bustle
"Part memoir, part cultural criticism, the poet and essayist's Cathy Park Hong's first book of prose had me underlining and annotating nearly every page." R. O. Kwon, Electric Literature
About the Author
Cathy Park Hong is the author of three poetry collections including Dance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Engine Empire. Hong is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in Poetry, The New York Times, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, Boston Review, and other journals. She is the poetry editor of The New Republic and full professor at the Rutgers University-Newark MFA program in poetry.
Michelle Carroll on PowellsBooks.Blog
Way back in April of 2020, I attended a virtual panel called The Asian American Experience. Cathy Park Hong, Kevin Nguyen, and Mira Jacob were phenomenal, and I’d highly recommend watching the recording of the event. Because it was the early days of all-virtual-everything, there were some technical difficulties as the event was kicking off, and a magical thing happened: the attendees started enthusiastically recommending books to each other...