‘‘A City of Words’’
‘‘Don’t tell anyone you had an aunt. Your father does not want to hear her n
She has never been born.’’ I have believed that sex was unspeakable and wor
strong and fathers so frail that ‘‘aunt’’ would do my father mysterious harm. . .
there is more to this silence: they want me to participate in her punishment.
In the twenty years since I heard this story I have not asked for details no
my aunt’s name; I do not know it. . . . The real punishment was not the raid s
inflicted by the villagers, but the family’s deliberately forgetting her.
My aunt haunts me—her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years o
glect, I alone devote pages of paper to her.—Maxine Hong Kingston, The W
This is a city of words.
We live here. In the street the shouting is in a language we hardly know
strangest chorale. We pass by the throngs of mongers, carefully nodding and
ing the signs. Everyone sounds angry and theatrical. Completely out of time.
want you to buy something, or hawk what you have, or else shove off. The
stant cry is that you belong here, or you make yourself belong, or you must
Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker
Lelia gives each one a sticker. She uses the class list to write their names insid
sunburst-shaped badge. Everybody, she says, has been a good citizen. She wi
the name, quickly write on the sticker, and then have me press it to each of
chests as they leave. . . . Now, she calls out each one as best as she can, taking c
every last pitch and accent, and I hear her speaking a dozen lovely and nativ
guages, calling all the diﬃcult names of who we are.—Chang-rae Lee, Native Sp