Younghill Kang’s East Goes West and H.T. Tsiang’s The Hanging on Union Square are Republished as Penguin Classics!
We are glad to announce that Kaya’s classic publications of East Goes West by Younghill Kang and The Hanging on Union Square by H.T. Tsiang have now been republished as Penguin Classics! The republishing of these titles during Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, along with America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan and No-No Boy by John Okada, follows the tremendous positive response Penguin received after publishing six books by African American author’s as Penguin Classics during Black History month of last year.
East Goes West, originally published in 1937 and republished by Kaya Press in 1997, follows Chungpa Han who migrates to New York City in the 1920’s after his home country of Korea is occupied by Japan. Through the detailing of his struggles to support his studies and the several Korean, Chinese, and Italian scholars, students, businessmen, and the like that he meets, the novel explores the industrializing 20th century America and the racism, alienation, and hypocrisy growing alongside it.
The Hanging on Union Square, originally self-published in 1935 and republished by Kaya Press in 2013–edited by Floyd Cheung, follows young and unemployed Mr. Nut as he bounces from job to job in New York City. As Tsiang details unemployment and social stratification in Greenwich Village, he illustrates Mr. Nut’s transformation from wandering laborer to radical activist, shedding light on an often overlooked American experience. In 2016, Kaya also published And China Has Hands by Tsiang, featuring possibly the first bi-racial Black Chinese character in American literature. If you are interested in learning more about Tsiang, check out these clips of his work as an extra, or bit player, in 1950’s and 1960’s Hollywood!
These titles were both parts of Kaya Press’ ongoing project of literary re-discovery of pieces reflecting the Asian American experience and Asian Diasporic experiences at large, which we have continued to do, most recently with I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara written by Lalbihari Sharma, a former indentured servant in British Guiana and published in 1916, and translated by Rajiv Mohabir.
The republishing of these works also points to the expanding influence of Asian American Literature in the American Literary canon. Media outlets like Resonate and Publishers Weekly call specific attention to a press announcement where the publication said “the authors of these classics have all endured comparisons to better-known white authors in order to describe their own genius; Younghill Kang has been compared to Whitman and Nabokov, Carlos Bulosan to Steinbeck. Yet each author’s work is a uniquely powerful touchstone for the immigrant experience in America.” NBC News says “the new editions, which include forewords and afterwords by contemporary writers, join Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club”…in addition to “The Martyred” by Richard E. Kim and “Doveglion” by José García Villa, as Penguin Classics.” Cassie Gutman from Book Riot says “the new editions of these classic works of literature are much-needed refreshes to shed new light on overlooked authors of color.” On Buzzfeed, contemporary Asian American writer Alexander Chee publishes excerpts from his foreword in East Goes West saying “there is a seismic line to draw in Asian American fiction that begins with Kang [author of East Goes West] and extends, in a series of autobiographical novels by Asian American writers, into the present.”
We are beyond excited that these classic Kaya Press works are now entering the literary mainstream of the U.S., especially alongside such fundamental Asian American pieces as Bulosan’s America is in the Heart and Okada’s No-No Boy. We cannot wait to see the further success of these works!