American Knees by Shawn Wong

American Knees

The course of true love doesn't always run smoothly. A hilarious, touching love story about an Asian-American couple who must negotiate family, race, sex, filial piety, and other surprising obstacles before they can live happily ever after.

Details American Knees

TitleAmerican Knees
Release DateAug 30th, 1996
PublisherSimon & Schuster
GenreFiction, Literature, Asian Literature, Contemporary, Cultural, Academic, College

Reviews American Knees

  • Rachel
    Raymond Ding is 40, divorced, and, as a boyfriend, sort of lecture-y and condescending. He works as the Assistant Director of Minority Affairs at Jack London College in Oakland and, in his relationship with Aurora Crane, a younger Eurasian woman, he can't seem to forget that he's the guy she's sleeping with and not her Ethnic Studies professor. Interminable conversations about the sexual politics of race and the racial politics of sex abound, and...
  • Barb
    I read this book for asian-amLit in college. It was a good course with a great instructor who is also an author. He happened to be friends with Shawn and brought him to class one day. After all of the history and more "serious" six novels that we had to read, this one was much lighter. Shawn told us that he wrote this book basically for his sister(s)(?) who wanted a sexy beach book.
  • CARP Reading Project
    There's so much sex going on in this book it is almost hilarious. But it is not in a negative or overcompensating vein; instead there is a tenderness to the characters that reveals how they are trying to piece their lives together, and the unique challenges they face. No one is a caricature. There is plenty of humor as well, including a particularly satisfying shot at Amy Tan, coded as "Lucknow Nights Without Joy in Chinatown". Wong made for an e...
  • grundoon
    I suppose the closest this came to what I might've sorta been expecting was the male-chick-lit core, though a sophisticated variant, more a narrative following a series of relationships from both sides. For sure it wasn't the sheer amount of sex, both talk and deed, maybe occasionally qualifying as erotica but mostly frank subject matter. But what I really hadn't anticipated was an exploration of Asian-American racism from just about every angle....
  • Jennifer
    I've read this book twice and saw the movie by Eric Byler. I didn't like it the first time but appreciated it more the second time. At first, I was annoyed by the "fact-dropping" of Wong re: Asian American history. But then, I interpreted it as part of Russel's (the protagonist) personality. That is, as much as I felt annoyed with it, it's one of main Russel's character flaws--to try to "teach" others instead of being a son, lover, friend, etc.In...
  • Chris and Yuri
    I've set myself the strange, masochistic task of reading all the books I was supposed to have read in college, but never got around to. American Knees is one of them.Though I loved reading about characters whose concerns, complaints, neuroses, and motivations are so familiar and believable to me as an Asian American, this probably wouldn't have been a book I would've read if it hadn't been about Asian Americans.Actually, I'd file it under Lad Lit...
  • Julia
    i've just realized - on page 70 - that the characters and some scenes seemed strangely familiar and i was trying to find out if i had read any other novel on asian americans and their interracial love affairs until being finally sure that i've already read "American Knees" about a year ago......not too much of a compliment for a book if one doesn't remember it in the first place, and to be honest i remembered most the dullness of the style - may ...
  • Jessie Quinn (cupofbooks)
    Perhaps this is just me, but American Knees feels like only half a novel. It reads as though there should have been at least fifty more pages. The first half is weakened by the fact that the beginnings and middles of the relationships are glossed over. The characters are enjoyable enough, though I wanted to read more about how their relationships developed. However I found myself enjoying it more towards the end, as (view spoiler)[Raymond and Bet...
  • Anittah
    From my review ca. 1999:I used to like this book because I identified with one of its main characters solely because of our similar ethnicity. I think that's fairly dumb now - this book is less about being AsAm and more about being human. The spaces we share; the neuroses that define us ... if you happen to eat rice and take your shoes off at the door, that's cool too -- but at the end of the day, even checking the same box on a racial...
  • Cathy
    "Asian-American studies professor Wong presents a romantic comedy about cross-cultural identities. In this light-hearted novel, American born Chinese Raymond Ding finds true happiness with a half-Japanese, half-American beauty."I looked it up on Amazon, everybody seemed to like it a lot and thought it was a great book. I, on the other hand, could not get into it. It started quite funny, very witty... But after a hundred pages of talk about who yo...
  • Russell
    I read this book after seeing the film adaptation (Americanese) at its Chicago debut. At the time I was being confronted with my own asian-ness and racial identity in a way I hadn't before, which is why I think it resonated with me then. I'd like to go back and re-read it now, and see how my impression has changed.
  • Cindy
    I'm not sure what I was meant to learn from this book. It's highly erotic in its words, describing various sexual encounters, and one does learn a bit about Chinese culture but I was disappointed and found it one big sexual description. C-. I can't bring myself to give it a D...writers work hard and I'm sure someone out there liked it.
  • Tanya Kunwongse
    Keeping in mind that this book was written a decade and a half ago, this book can be a lot of fun. But the characters, despite their diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, are stiff and preachy. Shawn Wong has great ideas and a lot of witty lines, but ultimately this book is one long lecture.
  • Julie
    I think I perhaps like the idea of this novel than I did the novel itself (although, it is quite well-written, I feel). The book makes an Asian American romance (its existence and complexity) a real possibility. Hooray!
  • Kim
    Exploring what it means to be Asian-American while also exploring the complexities of meaningful relationships this book had a lot of hits and just as many misses. As an outsider to the culture groups explored, I appreciated the perspective this book offered and what I was able to learn....
  • Ursula
    A Terry MacMillan-style Asian American novel. Filled with surface-level, shallow musings about APA issues and inauthentic characters who are embarassingly crafted to defy stereotypes. There may be some argument for this as the first wave of Asian American fiction, but ... really ...
  • Francesca
    fun easy read, I learnt new things. Will miss the protagonist.
  • Jaba
    Enjoyed this book. Never read a book that addressed queer/sexuality/bi(curiousness) until this book.
  • Susan
    Asian Americans as contemporary people - funny, interesting and a very good read.
  • Amanda
    A half-White, half-Asian man struggles with relationships and Asian American and American culture.
  • Rebekah
    I don't know how this book would stand up to a reread, but I really loved it when I was in college. "Race made racy!" said one of the blurbs on the back.
  • Leslye
    Felt shallow. So much angst and complaining.
  • Christine
    A bit explicit but I liked it. :)
  • Claire
    A novel that explores the unique Asian American experience, with a good dose of sex and cynicism.
  • Ann Chenhall
    Shawn Wong is a versatile author. I first listened to him speak of the dare he was given to write a beach book and this book resulted. He is a literature professor, poet and intellectual so he needed to research by reading other such romantic novels most often read by women while relaxing beside a pool or at the beach. I was also curious how such a book could result from a man's point of view.This story was very embedded in the tradition of Asian...