Interview with Ben Efsaneyim, Author of “The Legend of Fu”



1. Ben, congratulations on your new book. Finishing a book is a major accomplishment, and I think the entire Asian American blogosphere is happy for you. Can you tell us a little about your book? What is it about?

Thank you, Byron, and thank you for your interest in my book.

The Legend of Fu is a historical thriller set in the late 19th Century. The main narrative happens in the San Francisco Chinatown, but the early part of the book takes place in Mexico. The story follows the protagonist, Fu, as he survives brutal treatment aboard a coolie ship and a brief sojourn in Mexico, and finally presents the main events that take place in San Francisco.

Kayla Harrison wins second Olympic gold

I’ve been taking my lunch break just to hit refresh-refresh to check out the judo Olympic finals. I don’t have cable, so I’m unable to see it. It’s hard because this is the strongest American judo team ever. I really do wish they had an internet option where I could just pay for the Olympics, but…oh well.

Earlier this week, Travis Stevens won the silver. Serious congratulations to him. That is a tough field, and he’s finally won a medal and established himself as one of the top fighters in the world. From his interviews, Travis seems like a chill dude. I love what he had to say about judo and BJJ. Hard-fought and well-deserved, Travis.

“My body is separate from my politics,” interracial marriage, and where the environmentalists all drive Hummers

Once again, IR crept into the discussion. This time it’s the same discussion that has happened many, many times over the years. Asian American feminists and their non-Asian boyfriends are using the same argument that they’ve always used to dismiss the IR disparity: “This is my body! You have no right to question whom I date! To do so is sexist and patriarchal! How dare you! Ethan (or Biff or Whitey) is an individual, and that has nothing to do with my activism.” It’s the “my body is separate from my politics” argument. It’s an argument that has been made ad nauseum since the 1970’s. I don’t think I’ve ever had a post dedicated to the argument, so here it is.

Asian American activism, men and women

About two months ago, I was doing a podcast (which never got published and was hosted by someone else), and one of my interlocutors complained about Constance Wu, who had tweeted that she supported Asian women before anyone else (It was on Twitter and I can’t find it now). My podcast friend complained that he thought it was wrong that Constance Wu was speaking up for women before men. He told me how his black female friend also thought it was both wrong AND counterproductive. His argument was that Asian men and women go up and down together, and that it was stupid to separate the genders when it came to activism. I vehemently disagreed. I don’t know anything about Constance Wu, so I said, “What if she spoke up for Asian men and it turned out that she’s dating a White guy? Would that help or hurt Asian men?” Their answer was, “She is dating a White guy,” and “That would make it worse.” I pointed out that maybe the issue wasn’t a problem with what she said about putting Asian women first, but rather the possible discrepancy between words and actions. I said that given the trend of the Asian Female Celebrity Club, maybe it was better that she only spoke for Asian women. I said maybe it was better for ALL Asian female celebrities to only speak for Asian women.

Melania Trump’s theft is a form of White privilege

As you all know, I’ve been highly critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve called them out on their lies, their anti-cop rhetoric, their dishonesty, and their violence, and I’ve criticized them for poisoning the dialogue and for aiding and abetting the rise of Trump. I’ve called them out for supporting violent criminals (Michael Brown) over courageous police officers (Darren Wilson). Some of them have gone even further by calling for dead cops. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some serious racial issues that Black people still face in society. One of them came to light a couple of nights ago when Melania Trump plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech. Cosmopolitan has a great article from a Black female perspective here.

Real talk

The video above is long, but it’s good. It’s two young and educated black conservatives talking about the current state of black culture. One of the guys says he’s a first-year med school student. Give it a listen. Even if you don’t agree with everything, it’s interesting.

There are a lot of things that I disagreed with:

Nakamura finally beats Carlsen

After years of competing head to head, in their 31st game at classical time controls (according to Wikipedia), American #2 Hikaru Nakamura finally beat World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Hikaru has come close a few times, but yesterday was the first day where he actually pulled it off. I’ve always thought that he had some kind of mental block against Carlsen, which is unfortunate since Naka is usually a very exciting player. Hopefully his dry spell is over. See Hikaru’s interview above; see an analysis of the game below.

Is every White guy in Asia a loser?

I’ve been checking out the YouTubeiverse, mostly checking out Jvloggers in Japan. It’s pretty cool how many voices are out there. When I hear them talk about Japan, I recognize truth in lots of their remarks about cultural differences. It’s interesting stuff. It’s particularly interesting to hear from jvloggers who have spent years in Japan and have decided to live there permanently. I always wondered what life would be like if I stayed. There was no YouTube when I lived in Japan, so I didn’t get the benefit of hearing all this.

All kinds of unfortunate craziness

Let me start by saying that this used to be a discussion/current events blog. But if you look at my tagline, it says “common sense,” and as I’m sure you all know, no one is listening. These days, I don’t see the point in trying to communicate common sense. I was going to blog about the terrible killing of Alton Sterling, followed by Philando Castile, but now four cops have been murdered in retaliation. Michael Brown’s mother has aa op-ed piece about the murders in the NY Times, although I don’t know why they would give her that space. Her “good boy” Michael was killed while attempting to violently murder a police officer–quite a different situation from Alton Sterling’s. But emotions are ruling the day. Since this is a common sense blog, feel free to share your views on any of these killings below.