Badge Of Honor
I’m writing a novel now, which is a sequel to The Terribles: The Terrible Twos and Terrible Threes, which were the most unpopular books here, because while American critics were able to deal with Yellow Back and Mumbo Jumbo and the Pallbearers, they weren’t able to deal with the critique of the here and now, and The Terrible Twos begins with a critique of the Reagan Administration. So, that’s when the popular press sort of like dropped me, because I started dealing with the issues that are happening now. And in the new version — the new Terrible installment — because I spent 14 years on a book called Juice, and they hated that, because it was about the O.J. Simpson case. I got my best review in China, yeah. I wrote a book called Japanese by Spring, which got me an Asian audience of intellectuals and writers and scholars.
So, on the basis of that book, Japanese by Spring, I studied Japanese for 10 years. I think I’ve forgotten it all, I’m moving onto something else, but I was invited to Japan, and had a tour of Japan. And on the basis of Japanese by Spring — Japanese by Spring has become a national project in China. So, I went to China in last October and met a number of Chinese scholars and intellectuals, and I make the front page in China’s literary magazines. But I thought it was ironic that the best and most thorough review of Juice came from Beijing. A Chinese scholar spent — they’re doing work from — they have two books about my work in China already. They came over here — one of the scholars, Yuqing Lin came here and spent a year with us at the university here, and studied all of my work, and she got everything right.1
Now, in contrast, two of Henry Louis Gates’ employees really trashed the whole thing, because he has assigned other people to do his dirty work. I’ve been very critical of him about some things, so I was waiting for the retaliation. So, this guy named Paul Devlin, who’s one of his employees, who works for The Root, he fronts for the Washington Post, said I’d gone too far in the novel. So, I entitled a book of essays that were published in Montreal, Going Too Far. So, you don’t know how far I’ve gone. I’m all the way up here in Montreal. But I mean I’m getting my best reception from abroad now. I’m sort of like dead. My reputation is dead here in the United States. I see it as a badge of honor.