In this essay, I examine Lois Ann Yamanaka's novel in regard to other recent novels about autism — Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach (2006) and Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern (2006). I consider how the characters of autistic children often function as a "narrative prosthesis," a kind of catalyst to get the plot going. I look at the themes of silence and coming into speech in Asian American literature in order to show how they overlap in texts about autistic children and their mothers. Reading Father of the Four Passages in the context of other Asian American novels, I suggest that Sonia's Asian American heritage provides her with an alternate experience of cultural alienation that leads to her acceptance of Sonny Boy and his differences. Finally, I provide a critique of standard, white, middle-class narratives of autism, which dominate the literature and which perpetuate troubling stereotypes.
The Bad (Asian American) Mother
Sonia Kurisu, the narrator of Father of the Four Passages (2001) by Lois-Ann Yamanaka, has four sons. The name of the fourth, "Sonny Boy," is the first word of the novel. Of Sonia's four sons, only Sonny Boy was born and is alive: his three brothers were all aborted by their young mother. Says Sonia early in the novel,
Sonny Boy, son of Sonia, the only one I did not kill. Three, I killed. Number One in cartilaged pieces on a surgical tray. #2, like a dead feeder fish, flushed out and down. A third, buried in a jar behind my mother's house, fetal marsupial naked pink. (Yamanaka 3)
As Father of the Four Passages unfolds, Sonia realizes that something is different about Sonny Boy; he lines up toys; he cries and cries; he bangs his head. Sonny Boy, Sonia learns, is autistic.
At the start of Father of the Four Passages, Sonia is in her twenties and living in Las Vegas where she's a lounge singer trying to finish her degree in fine arts at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. She's far from home and haunted by many ghosts. Sonia knows where home is, or where she would like it to be: in Hilo. It's the place she feels wrenched from because her father, Joseph, left when she was a child and her mother Grace, a waitress at the 19th Hole bar, sent her and her sister, Celeste, away to Honolulu. Celeste attended the prestigious Punahou School (their grandmother was a part-time janitor there) as a scholarship student while Sonia found herself in remedial reading at Sanford Dole High School in an urban district in Honolulu (where Yamanaka herself taught prior to starting to write) and "[wanting] to be a criminal" (53). Sonia's life thereafter was rife with separations, drugs, alcohol, too many lovers, and a lack of affection from most family members and friends. The narrative gradually details Sonia's three pregnancies as flashbacks, interspersed with letters from Joseph.
These terminated pregnancies represent, the novel suggests, Sonia's fear of family: her denial of it, her running away from it, her refusal to have one herself. But Sonny Boy appears to be different. And yet, Sonia addresses Sonny Boy the way she frequently addresses her unborn children who haunt her:
Sonny Boy, son of Sonia, stop your crying on this bed, your purple wail without breath. Feel the squinting of my eyes, the gritting of my teeth, the closing of my fists. Here is my hand to cover your mouth. Here are my fists to crush your skull. Do you want to die? …Your body stiffens. Fists clench. You cry without sound. A blue boy. Let me bounce you, let me slap you, let me sing to you, let me choke you, let me throw you out the window…. I blow on your face. And in one long draw, you breathe me in. I am the keeper of words. This is your word to keep: God/the/son. (1)
As they open Father of the Four Passages, these lines obviously appall: the mother of a crying infant is talking about killing him: "Here is my hand to cover your mouth," she says. "Here are my fists to crush your skull?" But the lines are also desperate — those of a mother who doesn't know what to do for her child and is contemplating extreme actions. This mother, this narrator, must be at the end of her rope if she imagines hurting, rather than comforting, him. And then, in the midst of saying she'll "slap" and "choke" him, she commences singing and blowing on him. As the infant inhales her breath, the monologue abruptly changes. Sonia describes herself as "the keeper of words" and then gives Sonny Boy the phrase "God/the/son" as his "to keep," implying that he is some sort of spiritual being to be revered.
"Sonny boy, son of Sonia" — in the first four words of Father of the Four Passages, "son" is repeated three times. Sonny Boy's given name is Solomon, though this name (which suggests a kind of preternatural wisdom) is rarely mentioned. His nickname is more than just a sign of affection, however. Sonia also gives her other children nicknames, nicknames that reflect how they died. She calls her second unborn son — -aborted and flushed down a toilet — -"Turtle Boy." The third son she calls "Jar"; he was aborted in Sonia's own bedroom and buried in a jar outside Sonia's mother Grace's house. These nicknames dehumanize the unborn children, turning them into animals or inanimate objects. The nicknaming connects Sonny boy to his would-be siblings, insinuating the possibility of a similar fate, but also a relationship between his difference and their deaths.
When Sonny Boy does not seem to be — as Sonia's father, Joseph, first points out — "normal" (88), Granny Alma and Sonia's Aunties speak of his autism diagnosis as inevitable, clucking their tongues over Sonia's long list of past misdemeanors. Sonny Boy is seen as Sonia's "payback" for her own life of bad behavior (148-149). Sonia herself wonders if Sonny Boy, the child she decided to give birth to, won't stop screaming and is so difficult to take care of because he is indeed what she "deserves" — penance for the mess she's made of her life so far. The question haunting Sonia is: is she a bad mother, even a "frigid mother," which is a term she herself uses (36)? With her troubled past and three abortions, having a child with a disability is a test. Sonia has to struggle not to feel that Sonny Boy's autism is "her fault" and could have been prevented had she lived her life differently. In this way, the guilt and regret that she experiences, not to mention the anger and the rage, closely mimic what any parent actually feels. While Sonia's behavior is extreme and reckless, she still seems typical in this respect.
At the same time, she is obviously far from typical. Having aborted three of her children and constantly threatening the fourth, she seems credibly violent and murderous. Would it even be possible for the mother of an autistic child to write about such feelings in a memoir? Consider the following passage, in which Sonia suggests that she only had Sonny Boy for the sake of her artistic ambitions:
Sonny Boy, a painter cannot paint, sculptor sculpt, photographer photograph, musician compose, not without the experience; your birth was to enhance my art. Art enhanced. Now how do I get rid of you? All evidence of you. Everything. I should kill you. Artfully I've done it before. What a requiem I should compose.
Sonny Boy, I had to birth you. I thought you were the blessing of a uterine lining, gone for what they all told me was forever. The possibility of my redemption, a miracle from God, who found me at last. (26)
Such feelings — powerful, certainly terrible — are beyond what can now be represented in nonfiction about autism; the response of people to recent cases of parents killing disabled children, such as the sad story of Katherine McCarron, who was killed by her mother, Dr. Karen McCarron, on May 13, 2006, makes that clear. Yamanaka's Sonia may be the sort of character — already broken and isolated and, in the end, fictional — that a reader can accept as harboring thoughts of killing her disabled child or physically harming him.
At first it seems that Sonia does not see Sonny Boy as actually real; he's just another imagined ghost child, like her first three children. Her words reveal that she views her abortions as artistic endeavors. Imagining Sonny Boy's death, she says, "Artfully I've done it before. What a requiem I should compose." As if contemplating killing her young child weren't sufficiently repugnant, Sonia explicitly aestheticizes her violence. And then, as in the earlier referenced passage in which she fantasizes hitting Sonny Boy and singing to him in the same breath, Sonia suddenly conceives of Sonny as "the possibility of my redemption, a miracle from God, who found me at last." Sonny Boy's purpose, Sonia suggests, is to allow her to save herself.
Yamanaka's representation of Sonia is unsparing. Like the heroine of a Greek tragedy, Sonia is a mother who kills. Or rather, she could be a mother who kills because, against tremendous odds, she does not do what the past history of her character suggests. Sonny Boy becomes her chance at a kind of redemption and the possibility of family.
The Autistic Child as Narrative Catalyst
Sonny Boy is silent for much of the narrative and the wish that he could talk and progress (Sonia constantly expresses.) Nonetheless, while he is certainly a source of worry and frustration for her, he says and does little throughout the novel and, in some ways, constitutes less of an active presence than the ghosts of his three brothers, to whom Sonia continually imagines herself speaking. Except for one moment when he spells "universal" and "dimension" on the refrigerator with magnets in a somewhat sly send-up of the notion of the "refrigerator mother," Sonny Boy speaks only in short phrases or bits of words that are not comprehensible to most.
Sonny Boy functions in the plot of Father of the Four Passages in a manner similar to autistic children in other novels about mothers raising autistic children, and not only because of his silence and developmental delays. The autistic child is nearly always a catalyst for change in someone else. On the one hand, this is not surprising: a book's protagonist is faced with difficult circumstances and responds by having to change her or himself. But, on the other, need a character be autistic for this to occur? Would the narrative be the same regardless of cognitive disability? Is the writer only using autism because a character with the diagnosis provides a deus ex machina to move the narrative forward? Because autism is associated with emotional withdrawal and silence, the presence of an autistic character can be an efficient way to reference these themes.
The autistic child as the catalyst for change in other people suggests that he is a "narrative prosthesis" for the novel's plot. "Narrative prosthesis" is a term coined by disability studies scholars David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, and it refers to how disabled characters operate as compensatory "appendages" for narrative movement (15). It is an "opportunistic metaphoric device" (15) or "interrupting force that conforms cultural truisms" (16). In Father of the Four Passages, Sonny Boy is a metaphor for Sonia herself. The struggles to communicate, anti-social and even self-destructive behavior — these describe Sonia more than her young son. Even though Sonny Boy's presence is minimal as an individual with a disability, he is the force that drives the narrative along by providing, in the words of Mitchell and Snyder, "a tangible body to textual abstractions" (16). The problems that Sonia has faced throughout her life are embodied in Sonny Boy's autism. The lack of speech and the seemingly unexplainable behaviors in Sonny Boy parallel Sonia's own inability to express herself and her predilection for doing drugs, getting pregnant and aborting multiple children.
While Sonia is a very different mother from those depicted in other recent novels of autism, Sonny Boy's function is quite similar to that of the children in these novels. Recent novels include Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach and Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern (like Yamanaka, each author is the mother of an autistic child). Like Father of the Four Passages, these novels are told from the perspective of the mother, who is raising her child on her own: Melanie's husband leaves her in Leimbach's novel; Cara in McGovern's novel is a single mother. While ultimately diverging from Father of the Four Passages, these novels, with their middle-class, white protagonists, also make use of autism as a narrative prosthesis. The plot of all three novels follows the diagnosis, progress and improvement of the children (from tantrumming, screaming, non-verbal toddlers to children who can talk a little, attend, do things). Each novel's narrative hinges on the "emergence" of the child from autism and the simultaneous "emergence" of each mother into herself.
Although Sonia is shown to care deeply for Sonny Boy and to change for his sake, she does not try anything and everything to "cure" her son and to get him to talk and be "normal." In this respect, Father of the Four Passages stands in stark contrast to Daniel Isn't Talking and Eye Contact. Both Melanie and Cara put their sons in educational therapy programs that use Applied Behavior Analysis, and they try out various experimental biomedical remedies (Melanie, especially — she gives her son goat's milk and a number of supplements familiar to parents of autistic children today). Cara likewise considers such treatments. Sonia is not uninformed — -her friend Mark, a teacher, is well aware of what can be done and talks to Sonia about it — -but her goals for Sonny Boy are not so fixed or normative. Father of the Four Passages represents the experience of raising a child on the autism spectrum not as a desperate race against time to save, recover, or treat the child. For Sonia, being the mother of a disabled child sets in motion her acceptance of, and reconciliation with, her family and herself. It makes room for all kinds of difference. But this journey is in no way conventionally sentimental, however much it might rely on a common growth mechanism. Indeed, the protagonist's ethnicity significantly complicates this familiar plot.
Take, for example, the issue of alienation. In "Autism and Exile," Lisa Jo Rudy speaks of raising an autistic child as rendering the mother an "exile": "Parent with kids on the autism spectrum…are often exiled from the ordinary pursuits that make up our secular, middle class, American community." But a mother like Sonia is already "exiled" from the "secular, middle class American community." It is this community that promotes the dominant narratives of autism. The "secular, middle class," white perspective is not acknowledged as such and believes itself to be universal, when it's much more particular to one experience. In writing about autism, there has only been this one perspective, one voice, one experience.
Sonia's voice blows open these seemingly set-in-stone narratives and shows that, by considering other possible narratives about autism, our sense of options for treatment and supporting individuals on the spectrum is much broader than it appears. Yamanaka reveals the limitations of the dominant perspective, not only because it is not everyone's experience but also because it condemns autistic children to an impossible quest. The only respectable option is to "become normal," which is defined as living a secular, middle-class life — and that's precisely what Sonia does not live, and what she does not need to live to help Sonny Boy. Indeed, Yamanaka suggests that it is precisely because Sonia neither lives, nor aspires to live, such a secular, middle-class life that she is able to accept Sonny Boy for who he is. It also enables her to understand that silence, too, is a form of speech — that there are other ways to communicate than through spoken language.
Silence in Asian American Literature
A typical narrative scheme in Asian American literature charts the protagonist's journey from silence into speech. This journey allows her to find her voice and affirm her identity as Asian, American, and Asian American. "Don't tell" are the first words in Maxine Hong Kingston's seminal work of Asian American literature, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976). Kingston's first-person narrator is instructed not to talk about a no-name aunt who, finding herself pregnant by someone not her husband, drowns herself in the family well. Kingston's memoir depicts the narrator's struggle to come to speech, to learn how to talk about difficult things and, in the process, to find herself as an Asian American woman who is never quite sure where the truth of her identity as an Asian American lies.
But how to break out of a silence imposed by race and ethnicity, by societal attitudes and stereotypes, and by economic conditions? And is silence necessarily bad? The Woman Warrior contains indelible images of the struggles of women to speak as a result of patriarchal Chinese society and American cultural norms. In Articulate Silences: Hisaye Yamamoto, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa (1993), King-Kok Cheung notes that
attitudes towards Asian and Asian American reserve have been mostly critical or patronizing. The quiet Asians are seen either as devious, timid, shrewd, and above all, 'inscrutable' — in much the same way that women are thought to be mysterious and unknowable — or as docile, submissive, and obedient, worthy of the label "model minority," just as silent women have traditionally been extolled. (2)
It is as difficult for the Chinese American Maxine to speak for herself as it was for a young woman to be trained to be a woman warrior like Fa Mu Lan, a figure from Chinese myth; in the book's second chapter, "The Legend of Fa Mu Lan," the old man and woman who train the young narrator to be a warrior carve words onto her back, as if to suggest that wounds might be spoken aloud, even though Maxine is unable to speak them. The Woman Warrior's final section, "Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe," narrates elementary school age Maxine's painful odyssey to get "beyond silence." At the start, her mother cuts the frenum of her tongue so that she would not be "tongue-tied" (190). On entering kindergarten and having to "speak English for the first time" (191), Maxine instead falls into silence that she "enjoyed"; by the first grade, she has learned that, because other Chinese girls did not talk, "the silence had to do with being a Chinese girl" (193). She is able to chant her lessons at Chinese school and to yell on the playground and — though her speech is so minimal that she is sent for an annual visit to the speech therapist — she finds "some voice, however faltering...an [invented] American-feminine speaking personality" (200). Maxine comes to hate another Chinese American girl who does not talk and, one day in the sixth grade when she was "arrogant with talk" (202), she brutally confronts the other girl in the bathroom. Maxine pinches the other girl's cheeks, pulls on her mouth, and yanks her hair to force her to talk (206). But all that the girl produces is "sobs, chokes, noises that were almost words" (207), while Maxine talks and talks, implying that there is something wrong with the girl's silence: "You are a plant. Do you know that? …If you don't talk, you can't have a personality. You'll have no personality and no hair. You've got to let people know you have a personality and a brain" (210).
Cheung's analysis of this scene in Articulate Silences highlights the "psychological trauma" of the Asian American subject who has learned to valorize speech and, even more, has absorbed the stereotypes of her own race's silence as odious. Cheung writes, "Speech in this tormenting context has a valence not unlike 'the bluest eye' in Toni Morrison's novel of that name, another work that demonstrates how "the dominant culture exercises its hegemony through the educational system" (Gibson 20). Maxine's savagery toward the "mute" girl, which pointedly takes place in an "American" school, is reminiscent of the psychological violence suffered by Pecola because of the ubiquity of white standards (89). Maxine has further learned to equate silence with a lack of personality and of "a brain," of mental functioning. The other girl is not living up to the demands placed on her by America and instead seems — Maxine all but says so — mentally retarded and less than human.
Maxine's torment of the other girl is a sign of her racial self-hatred, Cheung shows. The Woman Warrior displays the struggle to speak as Chinese and American, to reconcile "the intricate, communal Chinese 'I' with the singularly exposed American 'I'" (99). At the end of The Woman Warrior, Maxine tells stories on a par with her mother, Brave Orchid (240). Her mother's talk-story talent is key to Maxine's coming into her own voice. Such a narrative trajectory re-enacts the immigrant's experience of arriving in a new country and being viewed as strange, bizarre, and different, and as speaking what the "natives" hear as something other than meaningful language: an infantile stream of sound like the chirping and screeching of animals. The Asian American subject acquires a sense of identity by talking, by being able to express and explain herself in her new language. The sheer existence of Asian American literature is a sufficient sign of the constitution of this subject, of a body made real by breaking the silence and, as it were, coming into life.
And yet, as Cheung demonstrates, speech is over-privileged as the sign of this subjectivity. The often desperate predicament of Asian Americans (as depicted in Kingston's, and others' writing) reflects the difficulty of constructing an identity that breaks traditional Asian customs and gives in to American ones. The bathroom encounter between Maxine and the other Chinese American girl is traumatic for both. The other girl does not, will not, and cannot let go of her silence no matter how violent Maxine becomes. Terrified of silence yet not really wanting to leave it behind, Maxine spends a year at home in bed. Importantly, Asian American literature offers examples in which silence operates as a powerful linguistic tool in its own right — in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee, for instance, or Hisaye Yamamoto's short stories, such as "Seventeen Syllables." It is a triumph of the Asian American subject's integrity that she is able to maintain her silence as a form of expression in the face of a Western world that privileges speech and the speaking subject.
All of these tensions are at work in Father of the Four Passages. Sonia is a defiant, unapologetically loudmouth narrator engaged in self-destructive behavior. She speaks, and yet she is silent, as she can't really express who she is, and, as important, no one listens to her. Silent and literally unable to speak, Sonny Boy is Sonia's quiet "double," just as the other Chinese American girl is Maxine's. Autism here significantly complicates and also strangely reflects the speech-silence tug-of-war. In fact, there seems almost to be a kind of uncanny consanguinity between the predicament of Asian American women and people with autism. Sonia's speech, particularly the violent words she directs at her son, arises from a childhood made traumatic due to circumstances of race, ethnicity, and class. The experience of both mother and son suggests that speech has its limits, especially for those who are outside of the normative, secular, middle-class, white experience. Breaking out of silence is an essential strategy for articulating one's identity, but because of the conditions of being Asian American and autistic respectively, speaking through ordinary language may not be the only answer. There might be ways of productively using silence and non-verbal means of communication: in short, language that is not considered "language" by the dominant culture.
Pidgin, Stereotypes, and Silence
Sonia is not only an atypical mother of an autistic child but an atypical Asian American character, one who confutes well-known stereotypes about Asian Americans. Yamanaka's work as a whole is devoted to this project, to the extent that she has been accused, paradoxically, of confirming negative stereotypes of Asian-Americans and, in particular, of Asian-American males. Yamanaka's second novel Blu's Hanging (1998) became the center of its own controversy when the Asian American Literature Association presented the book with an award and on the same day took it back. The author was criticized for her depiction of Filipinos, as a Filipino character in the novel, Uncle Paulo, was seen to be perpetuating a stereotype of Filipino men as sexual predators. Yamanaka (1998) countered that the book was a "work of fiction" and that she does not hold the same views as her narrator. Readers could take similar offense at Sonia in Father of the Four Passages and feel aggrieved towards Yamanaka. After Sonny Boy is diagnosed with autism, Sonia, for example, gets drunk and takes a handful of pills given to her (along with some vodka) by her drug-dealing/writing-the-Great-American-Novel/(ex-) lover Drake. After one especially difficult night with Sonny Boy, she wakes up outside her apartment door in a pool of her own vomit.
Sonia clearly defies the "Model Minority" stereotype that haunts the representation of Asian Americans. The "Model Minority" myth has created expectations of a predetermined narrative of educational, social and economic "success" (Okihiro 140, 154). In particular, Asian Americanness requires that Asian Americans not only be, but act, intelligent and "brainy"; otherwise, an individual "cannot" be Asian American. Individuals who have disabilities, especially cognitive and neurological disabilities, pose a unique challenge to Asian Americans' understanding of their identity. The same can be said about individuals who speak Pidgin English, the dialect of working-class Hawaiians and what Yamanaka herself spoke growing up. Pidgin arose among the workers on Hawaii's plantations in the 19th century when laborers were brought from China, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, the Philippines and other countries and these workers needed a common language to communicate. In the early 20th century, pidgin was seen as "bad English, improper English, broken English" by educators (Da Pidgin Coup). The word "pidgin" has associations of babble and nonsense talk. It is thought to be the language of someone who is uneducated or has difficulty speaking. Hawaii Creole English appears throughout the author's oeuvre, and her regular use of it in her writing is indicative of her awareness of the power and politics of language — how a normative notion of language in Hawaii oppressed indigenous populations. Yamanaka's deployment of Pidgin English is at once a kind of silence (or refusal to speak) and a desire to speak in a way that is different from the dominant culture, from the colonizer. It has given voice to a segment of the Hawaiian population that had previously been little represented in literature.
It is precisely Yamanaka's use of pidgin that has led to criticism of her work. Even as she won acclaim for her writing, educators in Hawaii condemned her for its use of pidgin and of profanity, to the point that "[s]uddenly Yamanaka was considered a controversial writer, and teachers were urged not to use her work in classes" (Famous Authors Vol 19). Yamanaka's deployment of pidgin highlights the issue of language and silence in Asian American literature. Speaking in pidgin is understood culturally as marking a person as having lesser intellectual ability — Sonia is deemed as such when she is placed in remedial reading classes at Sanford Dole High School, the public school in her urban neighborhood. She has always been a minority within a minority. Unlike her upwardly mobile, private-school educated sister Celeste, Sonia resists making herself into what the dominant culture and its norms require. Indeed, it is her willingness to remain as she is and to speak in a different way — in Pidgin — that makes it possible for her to understand her son, to see that Sonny Boy's different language and ways of communicating are not "babble" and "nonsense," but, rather, full of meaning.
At the end of Father of the Four Passages, Sonia accepts not only Sonny Boy and his disability but also herself as different, and she lets go of the defiance that characterizes her speech and actions at the beginning of the novel. In the final chapter, "Home," Sonia seeks absolution for her past misdeeds and, with Sonny Boy, returns to her parents' home in Hilo where she unearths Jar, her third unborn son, from under her bedroom window, and builds a sacrificial pyre for him. The action of the novel ends atop Mauna Kea with Sonia, in the presence of Sonny Boy, Joseph, and Jacob, making a sort of final sacrificial offering to her three unborn sons, and with Sonny Boy calling Jacob (who might be his father) "Da." Her autistic child is the catalyst for Sonia changing her ways, and this in turn is the catalyst for the child's own coming-to-speech. It literally arises as Sonia loosens her guilt over her three unborn children. But it is not conventional speech, and the difference that is difference remains.
Race and ethnicity complicate standard autism narratives. Growing up as the troubled younger daughter of a working class Hawaiian family, Sonia experiences social, cultural, and linguistic oppression. While initially in a state of disbelief upon learning that Sonny Boy is autistic, Sonia sees this not as a life-altering event, but as one more struggle in a life of struggles. As is the case in many accounts by parents of autistic children (both fictional and non-fictional), Sonia's response to her child's autism diagnosis is to change herself in order to do her best by him. But Sonia has resources — especially in regard to speech and silence — available to her from a lifetime of struggles as an outsider to mainstream society and culture. Yamanaka's use of Pidgin English is an example of how those shut out of the dominant culture can create other means of communication and, in so doing, question the authority and validity of accepted forms. Father of the Four Passages asks readers and writers to be wary of presuming the existence of any normative account of autism. Just as autism occurs across all races and ethnicities, so too do accounts of the condition. With its different understandings of language, speech and silence, Yamanaka's novel reminds us that there is no one definitive "autism story."
- Cheung, King-Kok. "'Don't Tell': Imposed Silences in The Color Purple and The Woman Warrior. In Reading the Literatures of Asian America, ed. Shirley Geok-lin Lim & Amy Ling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992, 163-189.
- Da Pidgin Coup. "Pidgin and Education." University of Hawaii. 9 April 2009 <http://www.hawaii.edu/sls/pidgin.html>.
- "Anna Yamanaka." Famous Authors Vol. 19. 9 April 2009. <http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2041/Yamanaka-Lois-Ann-1961.html>.
- Fisher, James T. "Autism and the American Conversion Narrative." In Autism and Representation, ed. Mark Osteen. New York: Routledge (2007).
- Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. New York: Random House, 1976.
- Leimbach, Marti. Daniel Isn't Talking: A Novel. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2006. McGovern, Cammie. Eye Contact. New York: Viking, 2006.
- Mitchell, David. T. "Narrative Prosthesis and the Materiality of Metaphor." In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, ed. Sharon L. Synder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, & Rosemarie Garland Thomson. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2002.
- Okihiro, Gary Y. Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 1994.
- Rudy, Lisa Jo. "Autism and exile." Autism Blog. 19 April 2009. <http://autism.about.com/b/2009/04/19/autism-and-exile.htm>
- Wagoner, Jeff. "Sonia's Penance." New York Times.com. 9 April 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/25/reviews/ 010225.25wagoner.html>.
- Yamanaka, Lois-Ann. Blu's Hanging. New York: Harper Perennial, 1998.
- ---. Father of the Four Passages. New York: Picador, 2001.
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