Angry Reader of the Week: Hua Hsu

"In my writing and teaching, I'm always interested in the circumference of our imaginations."

Hey, everyone. You know what time it is. It's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Hua Hsu.

Who are you?

My name is Hua Hsu.

What are you?

Among other identities: a teacher, a writer, a second generation Taiwanese American, a Californian, a husband, a father, a collector.

Where are you?

I've just nudged my dog off the couch, so I'm sitting on my couch, which is in Brooklyn, New York.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Cupertino, California, a place I'm very fond of now that I no longer live there.

What do you do?

I'm a writer (currently for The New Yorker, previously for Grantland, Slate, and other places) and I also teach at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. This week my first book came out! it's called A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific. It's basically about how a circle of powerful Americans -- and one oddball Chinese writer -- imagined China in the 1930s and 1940s, written from the perspective of someone who grew up obsessed with rap beef. You can read a bit about it here.

What are you all about?

In my writing and teaching, I'm always interested in the circumference of our imaginations: where we learn what's allowed and what's not, how we come to understand the boundaries of taste, what it means to dream beyond reason. It's something I think about in terms of my own identity, and why certain paths seemed "impossible" to me as a kid, as well as in my art and culture writing more broadly.

In my book, I follow the story of HT Tsiang, an obscure Chinese writer living in America in the 1930s and 1940s. His approach to everything, from self-expression to politics, was so radical and strange -- it's hard to slot him along the accepted trajectories of Asian American or immigrant identity. I guess that's why I found him so fascinating. I kept trying to figure out what forces (or accidents) had shaped his imagination. How, at a time when the typical Chinese immigrant had to live within such limited horizons, a guy like him could emerge and demand more than America could ever possibly offer.

What makes you angry?

Beyond all the obvious stuff? Bureaucracy, short-sightedness, traffic jams that result from street fairs.


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