This essay examines the work of detail in contemporary Asian American metafiction by reconsidering Georg Lukács’s understanding of description as a mode of fiction that transforms humans into observers and objects via an excess of detail. Lukács’s work has informed views of how “exotic” details in Asian American fiction turn Asian American characters and people into objects of entertainment and edification for predominantly white readerships. Yet works of Asian American metafiction such as Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior, Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats, and Nam Le’s “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice” deploy description to unsettle detail’s objectifying effects. Their authors invent techniques of deploying racist and exotic details to reveal how the logic of liberal multiculturalism and diversity rather than the aesthetics of description transforms Asian American persons into things.

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