YellowBridge Chinese Language & Culture
Chinese Language Center

Famous Chinese Americans Literature and Drama

  Who What
Eileen Chang

b. 1920, Shanghai
d. 1995, Los Angeles
A writer who frequently dealt with the tensions between men and women in love. She wrote during the 1940’s, and scholars consider her work to be the best Chinese writing of the period. She wrote of Japanese occupied Shanghai. Her book, Lust, Caution, was made into a critically acclaimed movie under director Ang Lee.
Iris Chang

b. 1968, Princeton, NJ
d. 2004, Los Gatos, CA

Author of historical, non-fiction books. She is best known for the The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, a bestseller which many thought a necessary reminder of a painful event although doubters questioned its inaccuracy, She is also the author of Thread of the Silkworm, the biography of Tsien Hsue-shen, a Chinese American scientist who was a victim of McCarthy era paranoia and deported to China, where he subsequently became the father of the Chinese missile program. Her last book was The Chinese in America: A Narrative History

Frank Chin

b. 1940, Berkeley, CA

Controversial novelist, playwright, and essayist. He wrote the Chickencoop Chinaman and the Year of the Dragon, which challenged the accepted stereotypes. These plays were some of the first professionally-produced Asian American plays. His novels include Donald Duk and Gunga Din Highway. His essays include Bulletproof Buddhists and Other Essays.

Gao Xingjian

b. 1940, Ganzhou, Jiangxi

Exiled Chinese novelist and playwright who has been living in France since 1987. He was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature for "for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama". He is the first Chinese person to win this literary award. English translations of his books include Soul Mountain,   One Man's Bible, and The Other Shore. An accomplished painter, a collection of his traditional Chinese paintings have been published in Ink Paintings by Gao Xingjian

David Henry Hwang

b. 1957, Los Angeles

Playwright. His first play, F.O.B., was produced while still a student at Stanford University. Although many of his plays are based on the Chinese American experience, Hwang has also written on other subjects and even wrote the libretto for a multimedia play called 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music Drama. His most successful play and winner of the 1988 Tony Award, M Butterfly, was based on the true story of a French diplomat and his Chinese lover who turned out to be a spy and a man. More recently, he wrote a more personal play called Golden Child.

Gish Jen

b. 1956, Scarsdale, NY

Author of short stories and novels. Her first novel, Typical American, follows the story of Ralph Chang, a Chinese immigrant in search of the American dream. Its sequel, Mona in the Promised Land, continues the story with Ralph's daughter Mona, a teenager converting to Judaism. Jen also published a collection of short stories called  Who's Irish?: Stories