Illusion and Danger in Don Lee’s Country of Origin
This chapter explores two types of racial playgrounds that operate through necessary themes of illusion to entertain their clients—Chinatowns and hostess bars—through an analysis of Don Lee's detective novel Country of Origin. Chinatowns, Koreatowns, and Little Tokyos are entertainment hubs that have encouraged white bourgeois forays into so-called Asian playgrounds, known for their intoxicating amalgamation of entertainment and danger and where innocent women seem to disappear. An amalgamation of both Orientalism and reality, Country of Origin introduces its readers to a contemporary Asian playground in the world of Japan's hostess clubs. This chapter considers how Orientalist imaginings as fields of play are bound up in illusions about race. It argues that the hazards of modern Asian playgrounds are manifestations of the dangerous fantasies surrounding racialization, and not inherent features of the raced characters who reside there. It shows that, in Country of Origin, the challenges of racial authentication and self-representation are both play and serious business.
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