Minor Feelings Book Summary - Minor Feelings Book explained in key points
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Minor Feelings summary

Cathy Park Hong

A Reckoning on Race and the Asian Condition

3.8 (51 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is a powerful essay collection that explores Asian American identity and the complex emotions that arise from it. Through personal stories and cultural analysis, Hong exposes the racial barriers and ingrained prejudices that continue to affect Asian Americans today.

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    Minor Feelings
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Asian Americans exist in a purgatorial state, neither Black nor white; their own identity is poorly defined.

    While experiencing a depressive episode, the author, Cathy Park Hong, had to go to Wyoming to give a poetry reading. She is a poet, but these are not events she enjoys, even in happier times.

    Reading her work to the audience, she felt newly conscious of her lack of stage presence. Asians in general, she thought, just don’t make a strong enough impression for this sort of thing.

    They don’t even make a strong enough impression, in fact, to be thought of as a minority in the same way as Black people. Asian people are sometimes thought of as post-racial – but often that just means they’re ignored.

    The reading was not a success. When she finished, everyone hurried to leave, including Hong.

    The key message here is: Asian Americans exist in a purgatorial state, neither Black nor white; their own identity is poorly defined.

    On her way back to New York, Hong received a call from her therapist. Hong had sought out a Korean American, like her, and they’d had one session. She was keen to carry on.

    But she was disappointed. The therapist was cutting her off. The only explanation given? They weren’t right for each other.

    Her mind flashed back to a visit to a busy Vietnamese nail bar at an Iowa mall. She was given a pedicure by the owner’s unenthusiastic teenage son, who grimaced at her, squatted down, and scalded her feet with hot water. He dug the nippers in sharply. She told him to be softer; he dug in harder. It was agony.

    Despite their dissimilar family backgrounds and levels of privilege, Hong and the scowling pedicurist shared a sense of self-hate and shame. They were like two equal forces pushing against each other.

    Being Asian in the United States is complex. In 2017, a video went viral of David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese American, screaming in pain as he was violently forced out of an overbooked plane.

    The media portrayed Dao as an everyman, as if his Asianness were irrelevant. But what memories did the incident spark in Dao’s mind? He’d fled Saigon in 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War.

    Some people claim Asians are doing so well in America, they’re “next in line to be white.” But aren’t they more likely to disappear – to lose their sense of identity? Perhaps they really are quietly assimilating into American society. But isn’t that the same society that ripped their homelands apart and uprooted their families?

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    What is Minor Feelings about?

    Minor Feelings (2020) is poet Cathy Park Hong’s searing account of life as an Asian American. Drawing on her own experiences alongside penetrating insights, it paints a picture of the purgatorial status that Asian Americans still face.

    Minor Feelings Review

    Minor Feelings (2020) by Cathy Park Hong is a thought-provoking exploration of the Asian American experience that challenges conventional narratives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With sharp insights and personal anecdotes, it delves into the complexities of racial identity, microaggressions, and the struggle for belonging.
    • The book offers a nuanced perspective on issues like racism and class, providing a deeper understanding of the Asian American experience.
    • Cathy Park Hong's candid and compelling storytelling captivates readers, making the book a captivating read that defies stereotypes and sheds light on the often overlooked narratives of Asian Americans.

    Who should read Minor Feelings?

    • Those looking to explore what it means to be Asian in the United States today
    • Memoir lovers
    • People who want to expand their understanding of racial issues

    About the Author

    Cathy Park Hong, whose family is from Korea, has published three books of poetry and is the recipient of writing fellowships including the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

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    Minor Feelings FAQs 

    What is the main message of Minor Feelings?

    Minor Feelings explores the complexities of Asian American identity, race, and the impact of systemic racism.

    How long does it take to read Minor Feelings?

    The estimated reading time for Minor Feelings is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Minor Feelings a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Minor Feelings is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that delves into important issues. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Minor Feelings?

    Cathy Park Hong is the author of Minor Feelings.

    What to read after Minor Feelings?

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