Frank Chin

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Frank Chin
Frank Chin and Mike Lee corrected file.jpg
Born (1940-02-25) February 25, 1940 (age 75)
Berkeley, California
Occupation Playwright, novelist, writer
Nationality USA
Notable works Year of the Dragon, Aiiieeeee!, Donald Duk
Notable awards American Book Award (1982, 1989, Lifetime Achievement 2000)

Frank Chin ( ; pinyin: Zhào Jiànxiù) (born February 25, 1940) is an American author and playwright.

Life and career[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2] This discussion was later evaluated on the activist blog "Big WOWO."[3]

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 is also a musician. In the mid-1960s, he taught Robbie Krieger, a member of The Doors how to play the Flamenco guitar.[4]

Frank Chin in San Francisco, 1975,
Frank Chin




Works in Anthologies[edit]

  • "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.)
  • 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
  • "Yes, Young Daddy", in Coming of Age in America (1994) (Mary Frosch, ed.) ISBN 1-56584-146-8


The Year of the Dragon was an adaptation of Chin's play of the same name. Starring George Takei, the film was televised in 1975 as part of the PBS Great Performances series.


What's Wrong with Frank Chin is a 2005 biographical documentary, directed by Curtis Choy, about Chin's life.

Frank Chin was interviewed in the documentary The Slanted Screen (2006), directed by Jeff Adachi, about the representation of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Stephen Davis, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend 77 (2005) ISBN 978-1-59240-099-7


External links[edit]