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As a distinct area of literary study, Asian American literature now enjoys a level of critical recognition that was unimaginable when academic interest in the field began modestly some 25 years ago. Part of this recognition stems from the increasing contributions of Asian American novelists, whose works continue to capture growing levels of popular attention. By the early 1970s, anthologies of creative writing by Asian Americans began to appear, and there are now almost two dozen of them. Since then, numerous Asian American writers, such as Amy Tan, Michael Ondaatje, and Bharati Mukherjee, have gained considerable critical and commercial success.
The publication of this reference work reflects the new academic status of Asian American literature. Included are alphabetically arranged entries for 70 Asian American novelists. Since the historical and current experiences of Asians in Canada and the United States are substantially similar, the volume covers authors from both countries. While the majority of the writers profiled in the volume have East Asian backgrounds, some have South Asian or West Asian origins. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and provides a short biography, a discussion of major works and themes, a summary of the novelist's critical reception, and separate bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. The volume concludes with a selected, general bibliography.