Website of YZ Chin
Read "Make I Here"
"Strike" and "Make I Here" - Two Short Stories by YZ Chin- author of Though I Get Home" - 2018
I first became aware of the work of YZ Chin in a recent post by Book Riot, Ten Short Story Collections About Race and Culture
I try when posting on short stories by contemporary writers, to spotlight works that can be read online or as part of a Kindle sample edition, thus making it easier for blog readers to experience the story.
"Make I Here" is a delightful story told my a woman working for a high tech company. The company is in the final development stages for an AI program designed to make jokes. The narrator, Edwina is a QA analyst, a product testerr. She has reported the program did not make her laugh. Edwina is the only woman at the final meeting and someone says she just has no sense of humour. The company seems pretty much a boy's club. I love Chin's presentation of a meeting she had with one of the managers.
" '"Log inspection suggests that AInstein detected I’m a woman, and tried to calibrate its jokes to fit that detection. Unfortunately, we have not trained AIstein on much data that would make it successful in that area, and it did not pick up on my reaction expressing disapproval. I took a look at the code. It should be a quick … ' I trail off when I see his expression.
'Why are you looking through code? That’s not your job,' he says.
'Well, this is really low-hanging fruit, and I have basic coding skills. I thought I could contribute—'
'Your job is to test things. You’re a QA analyst, not an engineer.'
'Yes, I know.' My heart sinks. I won’t be able to bring up my green card sponsorship request today – and if not now, when?
'Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that you’re Asian? Like, foreign Asian, not Asian American?' he asks.
I blink. These days, that is what I do when I sense anger rattling inside me.
He doesn’t say the word "inscrutable", but it vibrates between us like a hard disk drive whirring to life. I blink so much that the borders of my contact lenses harden and cut."
Besides working with sexist xenophobes, Edwina has a legal problem. To find out about this and more you should read this story, funny, insightful plus Edwina gets her own back. I loved the ending.
"Strike" is the lead story in her collection Though I Get Home.
"This collection won the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize for women & nonbinary writers of color for Malaysian-born YZ Chin, The political landscape of Malaysia is the backdrop for stories about censorship, culture, independence, art, and protest. The main character, a poet, is the thread between these stories which unfold after she is imprisoned for challenging the government." -from Book Riot
I live next door almost to Malaysia, in the Philippines. I have thousands of South and South Asian readers who would find this applicable to their lives. (The story can be read in the Kindle sample.) The story begins in a prison cell. The lead character is on a hunger strike. Chin takes us inside the consciousness of the woman. We see how she tries to deal with this through various mental ploys.
I greatly look forward to reading the full collection. On her website there are links to an essay about her time working as a programmer/writer as well as an account of what the decision she made to write in English means to her.
From the author's website
"Hi. My debut book of fiction Though I Get Home (Feminist Press, 2018) is the premier winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Title.
I am also the author of poetry chapbook deter (dancing girl press, 2013).
Born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia, I now live in New York, where I also work as a software engineer"