Douglas Messerli

  • culture August 12, 2010

    Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang

    A flyer promoting a reading for Chinese-born scholar Yunte Huang’s 2002 book Transpacific Displacement had a map of the Pacific Rim with a silhouette of Charlie Chan peering menacingly in the direction of North America. Huang didn’t have the heart to tell the English Department secretary who made the flyer that the image would be highly offensive to most Asian Americans. He wrote his engaging new study of Charlie Chan, in part, as a way of carrying on “my imaginary dialogue with this well-meaning lady.”

    Huang recognizes that—to coin a Chan-like phrase—“reality, like a copper penny, always have