Words Matter is the first collection of interviews with 20th-century Asian American writers. The conversations that have been gathered here interviews with twenty writers possessing unique backgrounds, perspectives, thematic concerns, and artistic priorities effectively dispel any easy categorizations of people of Asian descent. These writers comment on their own work and speak frankly about aesthetics, politics, and the challenges they have encountered in pursuing a writing career. They address, among other issues, the expectations attached to the label Asian American, the burden of representation shouldered by ethnic artists, and the different demands of mainstream and ethnic audiences."
Essays by Jonathan Okamura and Dawn Mabalon enlarge on Angeles account of early working-class Filipinos and situate her experience in the larger history of Filipino migration to the United States."
Identifying the American as China s significant Other, Conceison introduces the complex cultural relationship between China and the United States, situating it in both the long history of Sino-Western relations and the present dynamics of post-colonialism. She then examines the emergent discourse of Occidentalism, tracing its origins and recent circulation and repositioning it as a discursive strategy to analyze appearances of Americans on the Chinese stage. Conceison maintains that Chinese staging of American characters often played by local actors made up and costumed as Americans, and more recently played by foreigners themselves reveals cultural norms and attitudes regarding the United States, reflects Sino-American political relations, articulates Chinese national and cultural identity, and signifies innovation in spoken drama as an art form."