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Eaton, Edith Maude, Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism and Travel Writing of Edith Maude Eaton, edited by Mary Chapman (Montreal, Quebec: McGill-Queens University Press, 2016).

When her 1912 story collection, Mrs. Spring Fragrance, was rescued from obscurity in the 1990s, scholars were quick to celebrate Sui Sin Far as a pioneering chronicler of Asian American Chinatowns. Newly discovered works, however, reveal that Edith Eaton (1865-1914) published on a wide variety of subjects - and under numerous pseudonyms - in Canada and Jamaica for a decade before she began writing Chinatown fiction signed 'Sui Sin Far' for US magazines. Born in England to a Chinese mother and a British father, and raised in Montreal, Edith Eaton is a complex transnational writer whose expanded oeuvre demands reconsideration.

Becoming Sui Sin Far collects and contextualizes seventy of Eatonís early works, most of which have not been republished since they first appeared in turn-of-the-century periodicals. These works of fiction and journalism, in diverse styles and from a variety of perspectives, document Eatonís early career as a short story writer, 'stunt-girl' journalist, ethnographer, political commentator, and travel writer. Showcasing her playful humour, savage wit, and deep sympathy, the texts included in this volume assert a significant place for Eaton in North American literary history. Mary Chapmanís introduction provides an insightful and readable overview of Eatonís transnational career. The volume also includes an expanded bibliography that lists over two hundred and sixty works attributed to Eaton, a detailed biographical timeline, and a newly discovered interview with Eaton from the year in which she first adopted the orientalist pseudonym for which she is best known.

Becoming Sui Sin Far significantly expands our understanding of the themes and topics that defined Eatonís oeuvre and will interest scholars and students of Canadian, American, Asian North American, and ethnic literatures and history.


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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