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American Knees

Posted on

American Knees

Current Status:
In Season
Shawn Wong

We gave it a B-

Here’s a romantic comedy that shows how difficult it is to be raised in America as a part of a racial minority. Shawn Wong’s second novel, American Knees, takes its title from a schoolyard taunt leveled at Raymond Ding, the Chinese-American protagonist. (”’What are you — Chinese, Japanese, or American knees?’ they’d chant.”) The novel charts the ups and downs in Ding’s relationship with a beautiful woman named Aurora, who is half-Irish and half-Japanese. Though Wong paints a careful portrait of his characters in their romantic plight, his novel is very short on narrative drive and, sadly, long on an anticlimactic series of conversational go-rounds that take place during one of the couple’s breakups. By the book’s end, unfortunately, their yearning for one another becomes couched in a long-winded psychobabble about cultural identity and sociopolitics. B-