115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Transnational Turn in Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. the World

Sharon Tang-Quan, Independent Scholar

My paper examines the reconfiguration of the American Dream and the transnational turn towards understanding China, Taiwan, and the US through Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. the World.


My paper is interested in the transnational turn in which Jade Chang interrogates the American Dream in The Wangs vs. the World (October 2016). After having raised his family in luxury, protagonist Charles Wang’s business investments fail and his only hope is a road trip from California to upstate New York to access his eldest child’s trust fund. He plots to return to China to claim ancestral family land; yet, the return to China is a first-time visit since Charles’s family fled China for Taiwan before he emigrated to the US. I argue how the family’s road trip eastward represents a new American Dream, one that is based less on the pursuit of economic stability and is instead based in arts and culture. The Wang children aspire to modern art exhibition, comedy, and fashion, and they have varying levels of success. The family must face multiple instances of failure, and the chapters dedicated to each character’s perspective and thoughts offer a meditation on what the family perceives to be the American Dream and what each individual sees as her American Dream. In going “back” east across America and ultimately to a family meeting in China, the Wang family interrogates Americanness and Chineseness through an undertaking of the Chinese diaspora and how overseas immigrants find belonging, security, and a homeland.