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Big Little Man

Cover of Big Little Man

Big Little Man

In Search of My Asian Self
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An award-winning writer takes a groundbreaking look at the experience and psyche of the Asian American male.

   Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless. Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height.

 His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl. Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth. It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."

 And then, a transformation. First, Tizon's growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race. Next, seismic cultural changes – from Jerry Yang's phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to actor Ken Watanabe's emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lin's meteoric NBA rise.  Finally, Tizon's deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man. 

An award-winning writer takes a groundbreaking look at the experience and psyche of the Asian American male.

   Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless. Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height.

 His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl. Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth. It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."

 And then, a transformation. First, Tizon's growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race. Next, seismic cultural changes – from Jerry Yang's phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to actor Ken Watanabe's emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lin's meteoric NBA rise.  Finally, Tizon's deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man. 
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 10, 2014
    In this investigation into Asian masculinity, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Tizon offers a well-paced, engaging combo of history, memoir, and social analysis. Beginning with a pilgrimage to Cebu in the Philippines, where the conquering European explorer Magellan was killed by the Mactanese, Tizon recounts his troubled past growing up in an America that belittled and erased the complexities of his Asian manhood, and the effect it had on his psyche and his immigrant family (“My parents’ adulation of all things white and Western... was the engine of their self-annihilation”). He interweaves stories of Asian men forgotten or ignored by history, such as Zheng He, a 15th-century Chinese admiral who sailed around the world without the bloodlust of the Europeans who came after, as well as examinations of American attitudes toward Asian men as seen in films such as Harold and Kumar. Passages on self-imposed isolation and attempts to hide or mock his Asianness are visceral and painful. Tizon’s skill as a feature reporter serves the book well, producing a narrative that moves fluidly between subjects, settings, and gazes. Agent: Paul Bresnick, Paul Bresnick Literary Agency.

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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In Search of My Asian Self
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