When we printed Kim Liao’s nonfiction short short, “How to Be a Good Chinese-Jewish Hapa” — her first creative publication – we knew she’d go on to verb our world. Now a Fulbright Research Fellow working on a book about her grandfather’s role in the Taiwanese independence movement, Kim talked with us about the piece reprinted this week and her research for her book Girl Meets Formosa.
What inspired this story?
So, it’s funny, but Fringe’s call for submissions to the ETHNOS issue actually inspired this piece! I had been working on a few different essays about the difficulty of establishing a multiracial identity, in school, relationships, and as a writer, so all of these themes were in the forefront of my mind. I had also just begun to commit time and energy to working on a family memoir about my father’s Chinese-Taiwanese family, and the long-lost stories that neither he nor I had ever known about. So this was the content.
For the form, I really wanted to try to write something targeted for Fringe, and then shop it around to other places if your magazine didn’t like it! And I knew that Fringe was best represented by sharp, shorter, punchy pieces that would read well online.... more »more »
Matthew Haynes’s vintage nonfiction piece “Some Kind of Nigger” first appeared in Issue 13 as part of Fringe’s Ethnos Issue. Editor-in-chief Lizzie Stark corresponded with Matthew about what it was like to see this piece in print again, three years later.
Looking back at your piece now, about three years after it was published, what do you notice?
I notice how I would like to change some phrasings, tighten some bolts. While I still like the short succinctness of the piece, there might be some places to expand.
This story takes place in a bunch of different physical locations. Did you move around a lot when you were a kid?
No. I was born late enough in the chain that we stayed in Butte for the most part. There was a small stint in Wyoming, and then a few years in Hawai’i. Before me, my mother was married to an Air Force man, so many of my brothers and sisters moved around.
In this piece, you’re confronting what it means to be half, half Hawaiian, half white, and from the story, claimed by neither race. Do you still feel this way? How has your relationship with your racial identity changed over time?
I’ve discovered that in... more »more »