"Elegant and engrossing...[an] unusually complete portrait of contemporary Asian America."—Los Angeles Times..."A gem....Lee has captured this truth beautifully, wisely, and with winning economy."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
As the Los Angeles Times noted in its profile of the author, "few writers have mined the [genre of ethnic literature] as shrewdly or transcended its limits quite so stunningly as Don Lee." Harking "back to the timeless concerns of Chekhov: fate, chance, the mystery of the human heart" (Stuart Dybek), these interconnected stories "are utterly contemporary,...but grounded in the depth of beautiful prose and intriguing storylines" (Asian Week). They paint a novelistic portrait of the fictional town of Rosarita Bay, California, and a diverse cast of complex and moving characters. "Nothing short of wonderful...surprising and wild with life" (Robert Boswell), Yellow "proves that wondering about whether you're a real American is as American as a big bowl of kimchi" (New York Times Book Review).
Set mostly in Rosarita Bay, a fictional coastal town near San Francisco, this debut collection from the editor of the literary journal Ploughshares traces the lives (usually the romantic lives) of a motley assortment of male protagonists. Lee examines the circumstances of Asians living in white society, as well as the differences and occasional tensions, mostly unnoticed by Anglos between persons of various Asian descents. "The Price of Eggs in China" finds gifted furniture designer Dean Kaneshiro caught in the middle of a feud between his girlfriend, Caroline Yip, and Marcella Ahn (aka the Oriental Hair Poets). Caroline is convinced that the more successful Marcella exists only to torment her, and Dean hatches a dubious plan to end their years-old rivalry. In "Voir Dire," public defender Hank Low Kwon grapples with his representation of a cocaine addict accused of beating his girlfriend's infant son to death. Hank's anxiety over the case and his occupation in general is exacerbated by the pregnancy of his own girlfriend, Molly, a blonde diving coach. And Korean-American oncologist Eugene Kim contemplates the peculiarities of mixed-race romances in "Domo Arigato," recalling an ill-fated weekend spent in Japan 20 years ago with a white girlfriend and her parents. Eugene wonders if "you couldn't overcome the hatreds of countries or race, any more than you could forgive someone for breaking your heart." Hatred and heartbreak, though, are mitigated by Lee's cool yet sympathetic eye and frequently dark sense of humor, as when, in the title story, young Danny Kim watches in horror as a drunk kisses his father on the mouth and proclaims, "I forgive you for Pearl Harbor."