The Department of Asian American Studies produces more scholars for the field of Asian American studies than any other university in the country. We also house the largest Asian American studies teaching program nationwide, which annually offers more than 70 courses and enrolls more than 2,000 students.
These tremendous achievements could not have been made without the continuing support and encouragement of our alumni and friends, which enable us to maintain UCLA's standing as a national leader in our field.
Congratulations to Asian American Studies alumnus Jennifer Tseng on her new novel, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness.
Forty-one years old, disenchanted wife and dutiful mother, Mayumi is a librarian on an island off the coast of New England. Her most erotic pleasure is in reading. That is, until the day she issues a library card to a shy seventeen-year-old boy who captivates her in a way that no one else ever has. She is hesitant at first, conscious of their age difference, the power differential, and the questionable morality (and legality) of acting on her feelings. But her attraction soon turns to obsession, and after a season of overlong glances and nervous conversation in the library, Mayumi quietly propositions the boy, who reciprocates. They quietly begin a passionate affair that changes the way Mayumi sees her entire life—and herself.
Exquisitely written and compulsively readable, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness is equal parts wry confession and serious meditation. At its most anxious it’s a book about time; at its most ecstatic it’s a deeply human story about passion and pleasure, book love and physical infatuation.
Jennifer’s first book The Man With My Face won the 2005 Asian American Writers’ Workshop National Poetry Manuscript Competition and a 2006 PEN American Center Open Book Award. Her second book Red Flower, White Flower, winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize, features Chinese translations by Mengying Han and Aaron Crippen. Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness is her debut novel. She is the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Congratulations to Asian American Studies alumnus Tad Nakamura on winning the Audience Award for his film, "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings", at the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards ceremony!
"Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings" is a compelling portrayal of an inspiring and innovative Japanese American musician, whose virtuoso skills on the ukulele have transformed all previous notions of the instrument’s potential. Through intimate conversations with Shimabukuro (she-ma-BOO-koo-row), "Life on Four Strings" reveals the cultural and personal influences that have shaped the man and the artist. Covering tours from Los Angeles through New York to Japan, the film captures the musician's solitary life on the road: the exhilaration of his performance, the wonder of his newfound fame, the loneliness of his separation from home and family.
A few years ago, the Los Angeles-based filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura was named one of CNN’s “Young People Who Rock” for being the youngest filmmaker at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as well as one of the “30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30” by the popular website Angry Asian Man. Now at 33 years old, the fourth-generation Japanese American has completed his first full-length documentary – on internationally acclaimed ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro – which was broadcasted nationally on PBS in May, 2013.
Nakamura’s trilogy of documentary films on the Japanese American experience, "Yellow Brotherhood" (2003), "Pilgrimage" (2007), and "A Song for Ourselves" (2009) have garnered over 20 awards at film festivals around the world with "Pilgrimage" being one of 83 short films selected out of 7,500 submissions for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival competition. Film scholar B. Ruby Rich remarked, “Nakamura takes the joy of activism and makes it downright contagious!”
For information on Tad's film, "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings", please click here.