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Cheong, Fiona 1961-

Cheong, Fiona 1961-

PERSONAL:

Born January 1, 1961, in Singapore, Republic of Singapore; daughter of Daniel and Doris Cheong. Education: Cornell University, B.A., 1986, M.F.A., 1987.

ADDRESSES:

Office—English Department, University of Pittsburgh, 628-K Cathedral of Learning, 4200 5th Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260-0001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, lecturer, 1986-88; Howard University, Washington, DC, teacher; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, associate professor of English.

WRITINGS:

The Scent of the Gods (novel), W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1991.

Shadow Theatre (novel), Soho (New York, NY), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies, including Charlie Chan Is Dead, edited by Jessica Hagedorn, Penguin (New York, NY), 1993.

SIDELIGHTS:

Born in Singapore, Fiona Cheong is an American-educated English professor. Her research interests include contemporary fiction, Asian American literature, creative writing pedagogies, and women's studies. At the University of Pittsburgh, Cheong founded and comentors the Asian American Writers' Forum to help graduate students and upper-level undergraduate writers. Cheong published her first novel, The Scent of the Gods, in 1991 and a second, Shadow Theatre, in 2002. Both novels are set in multiethnic Singapore and use the variety of local languages and a unique dialect of English to tell the story. In an interview with Indira Karamcheti in the Women's Review of Books, Cheong noted the difficulties she faced with the language she was using and her imagined audience. She commented: "When I think about audience now, I try to imagine an audience of readers who are interested in language, and who are interested in the ability of language to transform the physical space that you happen to be in as a reader."

In Shadow Theatre, Cheong introduces Shakilah Nair, a lesbian professor and novelist who returns to Singapore after many years in the United States. The gossip spreads as a result of Nair's pregnancy out of wedlock, but is not the only issue dealt with by the characters in the novel. Often employing a sing-song dialect like the English used in Singapore, Cheong tells many stories and many versions of the same story through a plethora of narrators. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called the book a "skillful work that should appeal to lovers of mystical literature." A critic reviewing the book in Publishers Weekly found the story "frustratingly coy and slow going," but noted that the author's "delicate layering and poetic language rescue the narrative." Michelle Reale, concluding a review in Library Journal, found Shadow Theatre "strong in intrigue and mystery and colored by the human tendency to believe what we feel rather than what the evidence presents."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Asian Week, December 6, 2002, Brian Kluepfel, "Chinese Literature Encircles the Globe."

Belles Lettres, fall, 1991, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, review of The Scent of the Gods, p. 50.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Shadow Theatre, p. 591.

Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Michelle Reale, review of Shadow Theatre, p. 192.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 18, 1993, Charles Solomon, review of The Scent of the Gods, p. 8.

New York Times Book Review, November 24, 1991, Howard Coale, review of The Scent of the Gods, p. 22.

O, The Oprah Magazine, June, 2002, Elaina Richardson, review of Shadow Theatre, p. 155.

Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1991, review of The Scent of the Gods, p. 44; June 3, 2002, review of Shadow Theatre, p. 63.

Women's Review of Books, July, 2002, Indira Karamcheti, review of Shadow Theatre, p. 22, interview with Cheong (and others), p. 24.

World Literature Today, winter, 1993, Paul Sharrad, review of The Scent of the Gods, pp. 240-241.

ONLINE

University of Pittsburgh Department of English Web site,http://www.english.pitt.edu/ (March 21, 2007), author profile.

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