Floating Chinaman

Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific


288 pages

English language

Published Jan. 26, 2016 by Harvard University Press.

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Who gets to speak for China? During the interwar years, when American condescension toward barbarous China yielded to a fascination with all things Chinese, a circle of writers sparked an unprecedented public conversation about American-Chinese relations. Hua Hsu tells the story of how they became ensnared in bitter rivalries over which one could claim the title of America s leading China expert.

The rapturous reception that greeted "The Good Earth" Pearl Buck s novel about a Chinese peasant family spawned a literary market for sympathetic writings about China. Stories of enterprising Americans making their way in a land with four hundred million customers, as Carl Crow said, found an eager audience as well. But on the margins in Chinatowns, on Ellis Island, and inside FBI surveillance memos a different conversation about the possibilities of a shared future was taking place.

"A Floating Chinaman" takes its title from a lost manuscript …

1 edition


  • Authors and publishers
  • China, foreign public opinion
  • United states, foreign relations, china
  • China, foreign relations, united states