About the Book
Inscrutable Belongings brings together formalist and contextual modes of critique to consider narrative strategies that emerge in queer Asian North American literature. Stephen Hong Sohn provides extended readings of fictions involving queer Asian North American storytellers, looking to texts including Russell Leong's "Camouflage," Lydia Kwa's Pulse, Alexander Chee's Edinburgh, Nina Revoyr's Wingshooters, and Noël Alumit's Letters to Montgomery Clift. Despite many antagonistic forces, these works' protagonists achieve a revolutionary form of narrative centrality through the defiant act of speaking out, recounting their "survival plots," and enduring to the very last page. These feats are made possible through their construction of alternative social structures Sohn calls "inscrutable belongings."
Collectively, the texts that Sohn examines bring to mind foundational struggles for queer Asian North Americans (and other socially marginalized groups) and confront a broad range of issues, including interracial desire, the AIDS/HIV epidemic, transnational mobility, and postcolonial trauma. In these texts, Asian North American queer people are often excluded from normative family structures and must contend with multiple histories of oppression, erasure, and physical violence, involving homophobia, racism, and social death. Sohn's work makes clear that for such writers and their imagined communities, questions of survival, kinship, and narrative development are more than representational—they are directly tied to lived experience.