February 25, 1940 |
|Occupation||Playwright, novelist, writer|
|Notable works||Year of the Dragon, Aiiieeeee!, Donald Duk|
|Notable awards||American Book Award (1982, 1989, Lifetime Achievement 2000)|
Life and career
Frank Chin was born in Berkeley, California, but was raised to the age of six by a retired Vaudeville couple in Placerville, California. At six his mother brought him back to the San Francisco Bay Area to live in Oakland Chinatown. He attended college at the University of California, Berkeley. He received an American Book Award in 1989 for a collection of short stories, The Chinaman Pacific and Frisco R.R. Co., and another in 2000 for Lifetime Achievement. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Chin is considered to be one of the pioneers in Asian American theatre. He founded the Asian American Theatre Workshop, which became the Asian American Theater Company in 1973. He first gained notoriety as a playwright in the 1970s. His play The Chickencoop Chinaman was the first by an Asian American to be produced on a major New York stage. Stereotypes of Asian Americans, and traditional Chinese folklore are common themes in much of his work. Frank Chin has accused other Asian American writers, particularly Maxine Hong Kingston, of furthering such stereotypes and misrepresenting the traditional stories. Chin, during his professional career, has been highly critical of American writer, Amy Tan, for her telling of Chinese-American stories, indicating that her body of work has furthered and reinforced stereotypical views of this group. On a radio program, Chin has also debated the scholar Yunte Huang regarding the latter's evaluation of Charlie Chan in his writing. This discussion was later evaluated on the activist blog "Big WOWO."
In addition to his work as an author and playwright, Frank Chin has also worked extensively with Japanese American resisters of the draft in WWII. His novel, Born in the U.S.A., is dedicated to this subject. Chin was one of several writers (Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong of CARP, Combined Asian American Resources Project) who worked to republish John Okada's novel No-No Boy in the 1970s; Chin contributed an afterward which can be found in every reprinting of the novel. Chin was also an instrumental organizer for the first Day of Remembrance.
- The Chickencoop Chinaman (1971) the first play by an Asian American to be produced as a mainstream New York theater production.
- The Year of the Dragon (1974) ISBN 0-295-95833-2
- Gee Pop! (1976) An unpublished play about Charlie Chan which was produced by East West Players. Elements of this play would appear in some of Chin's later work.
- Yardbird Reader Volume 3 (1974) (co-editor, contributor)
- Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers (1974) (Co-editor, contributor) ISBN 0-385-01243-8
- The Chinaman Pacific and Frisco R.R. Co. (1988) ISBN 0-918273-44-7
- Donald Duk (1991) ISBN 0-918273-83-8
- The Big Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature (1991) (Co-editor, contributor) ISBN 0-452-01076-4
- Gunga Din Highway (1994) ISBN 1-56689-037-3
- Bulletproof Buddhists and Other Essays (1998) ISBN 0-8248-1959-4
- Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889-1947 (2002) ISBN 0-7425-1852-3
- The Confessions of a Number One Son: The Great Chinese American Novel (2015) ISBN 978-0-8248-4755-5
Works in Anthologies
- Food for All His Dead, in The Young American Writers (1967) (Richard Kostelanetz, ed.) ISBN 0-932360-04-1
- Goong Hai Fot Choi, in 19 Necromancers from Now (1970) (Ishmael Reed ed.) OCLC 603510235
- Racist Love in Seeing Through Shuck (1972) co-authored with Jeffery Paul Chan (Richard Kostelanetz, ed.) ISBN 0345026764
- The Year of the Dragon, in Modern American Scenes for Student Actors (1978) (Wynn Handman, ed.) ISBN 0-553-14559-2
- The Only Real Day, in The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology, Selections from the American Book Awards 1980–1990 (1992) ISBN 0-393-30832-4
- Railroad Standard Time, in Growing Up Asian American: An Anthology (1993) (Maria Hong, ed.) ISBN 0688112668
- Yes, Young Daddy, in Coming of age in America : a multicultural anthology (1994) (Mary Frosch, ed.) ISBN 9781565841468
- Railroad Standard Time, in Growing Up Ethnic in America (1999) (Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, ed.) ISBN 0-14-028063-4
- Railroad Standard Time, in Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing (2001) (Rajini Srikanth, ed.) ISBN 0813529662
As an actor, Chin, appeared as an extra in the riot scene of the made-for-TV movie adaptation of Farewell to Manzanar. Chin was one of several Asian American writers who appeared in the movie; Shawn Wong and Lawson Fusao Inada, who, like Chin were co-editors of the anthology Aiiieeeee!, also acted in the riot scene. Chin would go on to criticize the movie in the May 1976 issue of Mother Jones.
What's Wrong with Frank Chin is a 2005 biographical documentary, directed by Curtis Choy, about Chin's life.
Chin wrote the script for the 1967 documentary, And Still Champion! The Story of Archie Moore. Chin's script was narrated by actor Jack Palance. Some of Chin's experiences would be worked into his first play, in which the protagonist is making a documentary about a boxer.
- Reflections of a Bruised Tiger and an Ironic Cat, in Studs Terkel, Race: How Blacks & Whites Think & Feel about the American Obsession (1992) ISBN 1-56584-000-3
- Charlie Chan, WBUR, http://onpoint.wbur.org/2010/08/27/charlie-chan
- Frank Chin Debates Yunte Huang, Big Wo Wo, http://www.bigwowo.com/2010/08/frank-chin-debates-yunte-huang-about-charlie-chan-on-npr/
- Stephen Davis, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend 77 (2005) ISBN 978-1-59240-099-7
- Hong, T. (1995) "Searching for Frank Chin". A. Magazine. modelminority.com.
- Richardson, S. (1999) Lessons of "Donald Duk."-Novel by Frank Chin-Critical Essay. MELUS.
- Frank Chin's blog
- Frank Chin at the Internet Movie Database
- Frank Chin Papers at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, UC Santa Barbara Library
- What's Wrong With Frank Chin? (documentary)
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