Pulitzer Prize winner discusses her book, ‘The Asian Mystique’

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheridan Prosso came to Sam Houston on Tuesday to discuss her book, “The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls and our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient.”

This author and one-time “Business Week” editor has spent more than 15 years learning about the Asian culture.

“Growing up, the only thing I knew about the Asian culture is what I saw on television,” said Prasso. “Once I arrived in Asia for the first time over 15 years ago, the reality of Asia is different from Western perspectives.”

Reader’s favorite parts of the book consist of the real stories and experiences from Asians found throughout the “The Asian Mystique.”

“I’m looking forward to reading the book, and I enjoyed the speech,” said student Emalie Thok, who is of Cambodian decent. “It was interesting to see how she connected Hollywood and how it contributes toward western interpretations of the Asian Mystique,” Thok added.

Prasso explained how in some movies and shows, Asian men have been labeled as passive, vulnerable or, at times, direct opposites. They have also been portrayed as deceiving and inscrutable.

Prasso pointed out that western stereotypes of Asian men could be traced back to the Gold Rush of our nation’s past. Since the Asian men were so small in stature, and there weren’t very many women on the frontier, the “big” frontiersmen viewed them as feminine.

“Asian men were subject to doing what was considered to be women’s jobs,” said Prasso.

Prasso also elaborated on how Asian women are seen as both passive and sexually obtainable geishas, or on the contrary, a dominant “dragon lady,” made famous in the classic 1934 movie “Shanghai Express” where the main character kills the man that rapes her.

If Prasso could pick one thing that she would want her readers to take away from this book, it would be to realize, “it is time to know each other better and put away stereotypes and barriers.”

Prasso added, “In an age of globalization, we should strive for better understanding and more knowledge about different cultures.”

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