Eleanor Ty wins award for new book Asianfail

Photo by Luke Sarazin

Eleanor Ty, English and Film Studies professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, has been awarded the 2017-18 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature in the adult non-fiction category.

Her book, Asianfail: Narratives of Disenchantment and the Model Minority, was recognized by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), a non-profit organization whose members are devoted to community, diversity and advocacy within the framework of Asian Pacific American librarianship.

In summary, Asianfail is a book of literary criticisms that interpret a selection of films, graphic novels and literature that deal with the hardships and failures many Asian Americans and Asian Canadians face, as they are often stereotyped as “model minorities.”

“This book is comprised of stories about unhappiness and depression and why young adults are having a hard time meeting some of the goals that their parents place on them,” Ty said.

The myth about “model minorities” can have major repercussions when young people base their sense of worth and identity on academic and professional success.

“It’s very important for this generation to be aware that there are other people struggling just like them,” Ty said.

Ty was also the 2010 recipient for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Research Grant for “Second Generation Asian North American Narratives.”

“A lot of Asians feel like they have to conform to this very rigid expectation of not just getting an A, but getting an A plus in school. There is a stereotype of them that they tend to be really good at math or that they’re computer geeks, engineers and doctors.”

Ty also shed light on the fact that parents of these young adults generally migrated from foreign countries and were unable to attain the dreams and aspirations that they placed on themselves.

“A lot of these parents are immigrants who had to work extremely hard, often times not in the greatest jobs,” she said.

“They transfer their dreams to their children and place expectations on them that they will become the things they never were like engineers or doctors. This, in turn, creates a heavy burden on the kids to do what their parents didn’t do.”

The award given to Ty acknowledges publications for their literary and artistic merit, in addition to promoting Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage, according to the APALA press release.

APALA was first founded in 1980 by mostly first generation Americans of Asian descent who wanted to encourage the work of librarians of Asian Pacific ancestry and promote heterogeneity and varied identities in the community.

Ty was thrilled when she first found out she had received the award.

“It’s great to be chosen by a group of librarians,” she said.

“Since the book has been chosen, it is going to be publicized and might also be recommended to other people. It will get out to the community beyond the university library.”

Additionally, Ty has ten other published books that cover a diverse range of topics from gender to new media, life writing and parody.

Ty was also the 2010 recipient for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Research Grant for “Second Generation Asian North American Narratives.”

More recently she was selected as the University Research Professor for 2015-2016 here at Laurier.

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