Charlie Chan

The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. Norton. Aug. 2010. c.288p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-0-393-06962-4. $26.95. LIT
Huang (English, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Transpacific Imaginations) here gives us a fascinating examination of Charlie Chan that is many books in one. He begins with a study of Chang Apana (1871–1933), the real detective on whom Charlie Chan was based. Apana, who was born in Hawaii and lived in China from age three to ten, policed Honolulu's Chinatown after previous posts as a cowboy and as an officer for the Humane Society. Huang then turns to Earl Derr Biggers, a Harvard graduate and writer who created the fictitious Chinese American detective Chan. Biggers himself proves to be equally intriguing. Huang also examines the cultural phenomenon of Charlie Chan in films and other media, exploring the detective's place in America's cultural memory. Huang believes there are many layers to the meaning of Biggers's creation: Chan cannot be easily dismissed simply as a product of American racism. Huang's personal reflections are welcome interludes in this most compelling work.
VERDICT This book has broad appeal to readers interested in film history, ethnic and cultural studies, literary biography, and pop culture. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
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