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In 1967, the year after The Crying of Lot 49 appeared, a crowd variously estimated at between 50 000 and 200 000 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to protest the war in Vietnam and march to the nearby Pentagon. Norman Mailer’s account of the event, and of his involvement in it, appeared the following year as The Armies of the Night and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Mailer records that he became involved in the weekend of protests – he would be arrested and spend a night in prison – because he was unable to convince himself that his fiction writing was sufficient response to the war in Vietnam.
Hagedorn’s first novel, Dogeaters (1990), uses multiple perspectives and collage techniques to follow the stories of a number of characters in the Philippines during Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship, examining the influence of American culture upon a country whose own had already been fragmented by a history of colonial oppression. The novel was a National Book Award finalist. In her second novel, The Gangster of Love (1997), a group travels from Manila to the creative communities of San Francisco and New York.
The book combines Chinese legends, family stories, and autobiography to describe the difficulties that Chinese American women have experienced in the past and still experience in the present, in large part through the demeaning attitude toward women in traditional Chinese culture, and the racism encountered in America. China Men (1980) complements the earlier book by looking at the experiences of male Chinese immigrants, many of whom in the earlier years of the century provided the labor for building railroads, working on sugar plantations, and clearing land for farming.
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