Books by Phoebe Eng

Released: March 11, 1999

In this hybrid of inspirational creed, personal memoir, anecdotal reportage, and political pamphlet, Eng exhorts Asian-American women to face their issues—and conquer them. The author, one of the founders of A. Magazine, published for and about Asian-Americans, draws part of her inspiration here from Maxine Hong Kingston's modern classic, The Woman Warrior. While Kingston serves as the starting point for Eng in her exploration of what it means to be an Asian-American woman, she also acknowledges the influence of other prominent feminist thinkers of the late 20th century and sprinkles her book liberally with remarks from those women, as well as with others from a disparate band of philosophers, psychologists, and self-help gurus. Early on, Eng quotes from Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within: "Most writers write to say something about other people and it never lasts. Good writers write to find out about themselves—and it lasts forever." Eng interprets this statement as a license to bring her own experiences into a book that is essentially about other people. But regardless, Steinem's quote seems a grievous one to guide any writer. Eng, while divulging the details of her personal life, is very fond of reminding us that she threw off the shackles of corporate lawyerdom to become a publisher of an idealistic magazine. Yet, when stripped of its pretensions, hers is essentially a self-help title—her reportage is unsystematic, her evidence sketchy, as she advises Asian women on how to deal with issues such as physical self-image (she notes a growing trend toward plastic surgery among Asian women) to her debunking of what she calls "power myths," such as the belief that power can come from pretending to be like everyone else. Asian women who want to understand themselves in relation to language, history, and the rest of humanity would do better to reread The Woman Warrior. (Author tour) Read full book review >