March 1910. First edition. Disbound but complete in 7 pages (518-523). Clean and unmarked. The first appearance of Sui Sin Far's short story, predating its inclusion in her only published collection Mrs. Spring Fragrance by two years. Tackling issues of race, gender, and identity, it is among the first pieces of fiction written about Chinese people in North America and, in many ways, it drew on the author's own life as a person of mixed race. All of Far's works are scarce institutionally and in trade.
"The first Chinese woman author in the United States, Sui Sin Far was a significant if often overlooked contributor to the literature of the Pacific Northwest. Born Edith Maude Eaton to a wealthy British father and a Chinese mother," Sui's early career was spent as "a stenographer, typist, and freelance journalist...whose writing focused on the racist laws and practices that Chinese Canadians and Chinese Americans were subjected to" (Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest). Adopting the Cantonese name Sui Sin Far (Narcissus Flower), she publicly identified as Chinese American despite facing discrimination from the publishing industry. She also began writing short works of fiction; and many of these focused on "issues of acculturation and cultural conflict she faced in her own life as a Eurasian woman -- one who could have 'passed' as white had she chosen to, but instead insisted on finding her place and making her home within the Chinese American community" (Center). As a biracial woman living at a time when mixed-race marriage was illegal and violence against Asian American communities was widespread, Sui Sin Far brought a complex understanding of race, gender, and nationality to the fore. In A White Woman who Married a Chinaman, published in the Independent in 1910, she "contests the stereotype of the deviant and threatening Chinese bachelor" and the threat he allegedly poses to the purity of white femininity (Degenhardt). Unhappy in her emotionally abusive marriage to a progressive white husband, Minnie Carson finds happiness and acceptance with Liu Kanghi. In this second marriage, Minnie has a husband who values her traditionally feminine interests rather than berating her for them. Indeed "Liu Kanghi's straightforward values recognize Minnie for being the right kind of woman and draw her to him for the right reasons" and his sensitivity, tenderness, honesty, and gentility not only "are intended to illustrate his superiority over Minnie's white husband, they are also qualities that strategically characterize him as an inappropriate target of racism...The Chinese-white union constitutes a beacon of progress, offering a vision of America that transcends national boundaries...But, as the tragic murder of Liu Kanghi suggests, Sui Sin Far's America is not yet progressive enough" (Degenhardt). (Item #4290)