Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities (Asian American History & Cultu) (Paperback)

Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities (Asian American History & Cultu) By erin Khuê Ninh Cover Image
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In her engaging study, Passing for Perfect,erin Khuê Ninh considers the factors that drove college imposters such as Azia Kim—who pretended to be a Stanford freshman—and Jennifer Pan—who hired a hitman to kill her parents before they found out she had never received her high school diploma—to extreme lengths to appear successful. Why would someone make such an illogical choice? And how do they stage these lies so convincingly, and for so long? 

These outlier examples prompt Ninh to address the larger issue of the pressures and difficulties of striving to be model minority, where failure is too ruinous to admit. Passing for Perfect insists that being a “model minority” is not a “myth,” but coded into one’s programming as an identity—a set of convictions and aspirations, regardless of present socioeconomic status or future attainability—and that the true cost of turning children into high-achieving professionals may be higher than anyone can bear.  

Ninh’s book codifies for readers the difference between imposters who are con artists or shysters and those who don’t know how to stop passing for perfect.

About the Author

erin Khuê Ninh is an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature, which won the Literary Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2013.

Praise For…

“As an Asian American daughter of immigrants, reading Passing for Perfect, I felt my life understood. erin Khuê Ninh has explained our plight—the mad scramble for refuge, the guilt over our parents’ sacrifices, and our trust that education will save us. This book will give us strength against the attackers who blame us for what’s wrong with America. We shall overcome violence with knowledge.”—Maxine Hong Kingston

Passing for Perfect is lively, timely, and smart. It engages intriguing case studies of Asian Americans who maintained the charade of being admitted to elite colleges in order to expose the tolls surrounding racial stereotyping. Ninh conveys the significance of these impersonations without giving in to their salacious details. Rather, she seeks systemic explanations for individual behaviors while providing keen insights into the ways that racialization works as a form of psychic conditioning.”—Leslie Bow, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of English and Asian American Studies and Draheim Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Product Details
ISBN: 9781439920527
ISBN-10: 1439920524
Publisher: Temple University Press
Publication Date: July 30th, 2021
Pages: 232
Language: English
Series: Asian American History & Cultu