Reading Midwest Asian America in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You
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How to Cite

Woodcock, N. (2023). Reading Midwest Asian America in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. American Studies, 62(3).


In this article, I contemplate the Midwest as a stage for unbelonging and out-of-placeness for the mixed race Chinese American family at the heart of Celeste Ng’s novel Everything I Never Told You. Linking Ng’s fictional “Middlewood, Ohio” with the infamous “Middletown Studies,” I discuss the significance of Asian American presence in “typical America,” which in itself defies stereotypes that suggest the Midwest is isolated from temporal progress and global forces. My analysis also draws attention to the painstaking ways Ng makes legible the national and global forces shaping the most mundane aspects of suburban daily life. In particular, Ng’s rendering showcases how their experiences of Asian racialization are “part of a wider and deeply entrenched pattern of discrimination linked to a larger project of transnational whiteness that structures the Midwest, the United States as a whole, and its global empire. In this way, Everything is significant because it represents Midwestern Asian Americans to us and to others and it also opens conversations about the conceptual boundaries we are conditioned to enact and reinforce to maintain the fiction that Asians are anomalous to this region in order to cover over the routes by which we come to be here––that is, Everything makes visible how the American Midwest is tethered to, rather than bracketed away from, the United States’s operations as a global force in the world. 

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