Cover of Minor Transpacific by David S. Roh
Minor Transpacific
Triangulating American, Japanese, and Korean Fictions
David S. Roh


232 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503611764
Paperback ISBN: 9781503628007
Ebook ISBN: 9781503628014

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Honorable Mention for the 2023 AAAS Best Book in Literary Studies Award, sponsored by the Association for Asian American Studies.

There is a tendency to think of Korean American literature—and Asian American literature writ large—as a field of study involving only two spaces, the United States and Korea, with the same being true in Asian studies of Korean Japanese (Zainichi) literature involving only Japan and Korea. This book posits that both fields have to account for three spaces: Korean American literature has to grapple with the legacy of Japanese imperialism in the United States, and Zainichi literature must account for American interventions in Japan. Comparing Korean American authors such as Younghill Kang, Chang-rae Lee, Ronyoung Kim, and Min Jin Lee with Zainichi authors such as Kaneshiro Kazuki, Yi Yang-ji, and Kim Masumi, Minor Transpacific uncovers their hidden dialogue and imperial concordances, revealing the trajectory and impact of both bodies of work.

Minor Transpacific bridges the fields of Asian studies and Asian American studies to unveil new connections between Zainichi and Korean American literatures. Working in Japanese and English, David S. Roh builds a theoretical framework for articulating those moments of contact between minority literatures in a third national space and proposes a new way of conceptualizing Asian American literature.

About the author

David S. Roh is Associate Professor of English at the University of Utah.

"Thoughtful and lucidly written,Minor Transpacificis a refreshing piece of scholarship that will advance important conversations surrounding transnational minor literature and Korean American cultural production. An original and welcome contribution to Asian American literary and cultural studies."

—Lisa Yoneyama, University of Toronto

"Despite its title phrase, Minor Transpacific is a major and timely intervention into the field of transpacific studies. Uncovering the labyrinthine matrix of the Korea-Japan-America triangulation, Roh writes with the lucidity and sharp wit of a seasoned literary sleuth. This book is a deep, migratory meditation powered by a palpable emotional undertow."

—Yunte Huang, author of Transpacific Imaginations

"Minor Transpacificis a major contribution to transpacific studies, not merely because it succeeds in illustrating how a transpacific framework is fruitful in analyzing literary texts but also because it is designed as a (self-)critique of extant academic disciplines. Any scholar interested in cutting across disciplinary barriers will benefit from studying the way Roh constructs his compelling arguments with apt topics and through rigorous close readings."

—Kodai Abe, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States

"[David Roh's] study of the literary relations of Korean, Zainichi, and Korean American literature invites readings that "triangulate" Japanese colonialism and racial practices and US imperialist and racial politics as specters that haunt literary texts authored by Korean Japanese and Korean Americans...[Roh] opens literary relations in Asian/American studies to its historical and ongoing "transpacific" construction. Recommended."

—J.R. Wendland, Choice

"WithMinor Transpacific: Triangulating American, Japanese, and Korean Fictions, David S. Roh amply proves the merits of a transnational approach to the study of Asian(-American) literature and history; indeed, he shows how 'Asian' and 'American' are mutually constitutive—if also unequal and unevenly constituted—terms that become legible as such only through a mediated minor transpacific."

—Christina Yi, The Journal of Japanese Studies

"Minor Transpacific is a groundbreaking study, filled with skillful close readings and cogent analysis of transpacific minoritarian cultures. Roh displays deep awareness of histories and cultural politics spanning Korea, Japan, and the US. Roh's study provides an important contribution to Asian American, Asian, and Transpacific Studies. By making the minor 'opaque and visible', his book gives form to a 'global minority diaspora' not as of yet envisioned."

—Jinah Kim, American Literary History