Deriding the Tiger Mom with Tracy Quan

Kung hei fat choi (or Gong xi fa cai) for the year for the rabbit. But we’re not done with last year’s tiger just yet.

When I first encountered self-styled Tiger Mom Amy Chua in a television interview, I felt queasy. Not because I necessarily disagree with the general thrust of her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – my upbringing included a strong element of tiger parenting, and I hope to instill a thirst for achievement in my three year old.

Chua gave me the creeps because I felt she was blatantly exploiting her Chinese face, playing to American, or more general Western, stereotypes about Chinese people that didn’t seem to fit her actual situation. I believed Chua was doing it consciously and cynically, but I couldn’t figure out whether I’d be more or less uneasy if she wasn’t. Even as a card-carrying permanent resident of Hong Kong, which makes me sort of Chinese, it was disquieting simply to consider such issues.

Thankfully, I can leave thinking about Tiger Mom and stereotypes to the sharp mind of Tracy Quan.

I first became a Quan fan after reading her novel Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl. (Here’s my review of it, Political whores go biblical.) The book was a sequel to Quan’s 2003 best-seller Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl. Particularly on matters of gender and sex, Quan frequently treads where only the brave dare go, and it’s always worth knowing what she has to say.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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