In The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, Ann Marie Fleming creates an illustrated memoir that highlights the connections between generations of diasporic Chinese subjects. Nominally a memoir about her great-grandfather, Fleming uses the politics of vaudeville and her great-grandfather’s career as entry points into an examination of gendered Orientalism, racial exclusion, and nationalism, counterbalanced with depictions of magic, love, family, and creative resistance. The memoir uses three feminist strategies to imaginatively open out the formal and narrative conventions of Chinese diasporic history: it plays with formal timelines and genealogies as memorializing tools to deconstruct history as chronological and teleological; it invents spatial histories to make visible familial relationships; and it explores the power of collaborative memory to open the way for new diasporic forms of history. From these strategies the memoir invokes a feminist interpretation of Chinese diasporic history that emphasizes new configurations of time, space, and bodies in the production of memories for the historical archive.

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