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Erotic Cookbooks and Their Long, Naughty History

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A couple of years ago, Lizzy Young, a vintage cookbook dealer based in Newport, Rhode Island, began to notice a growing market for erotic cookbooks — books that typically employ naughty visuals and heavily entendred recipes in the service of seduction through culinary prowess.

“Every time I put one up it sells really quick,” says Young. “The newer generation is interested in fun, kitschy, slapstick stuff.” These days, she adds, vintage cookbooks of this nature can go for up to $100 in her online shop, almost double what she could sell them for a few years ago. While it’s tempting to tie this current demand to the appeal of erotic cookbooks as gag gifts, that misses the role they play as cultural artifacts of changing attitudes toward sex and sexuality throughout American history.

According to Katharina Vester, a professor of history at American University, it can be hard to define what qualifies as an erotic cookbook, since literature linking food and sex dates back to ancient times. But to Vester, the author of A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities, the erotic cookbook’s modern era began in the 1950s with the launch of Playboy’s food and drinks column, which the magazine subsequently spun into a series of cookbooks. (Food & Wine, for what it’s worth, began its life in 1978 as a Playboy supplement.)

“I would argue that the erotic cookbook is an invention of the male cook,” Vester says — specifically a midcentury “playboy bachelor-type who doesn’t yet have a wife to cook for him, so he performatively shows his dominance and independence through pseudo-gourmet cooking for seduction.” As such, midcentury erotic cookbooks “were all about insinuating that if you cook for a woman, you can get her to bed,” she explains. As Thomas Mario, Playboy’s erstwhile food and drinks editor, once wrote, “The smell of burning apple wood and the crackling fire beneath the thick prime steaks makes her secretly swoon.”

Due to the era’s censorship and restrictive societal and cultural codes, cookbooks with a premise of food as a pathway to sex weren’t explicitly sexual. Where titles aimed at men framed cooking as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink way to get laid, those targeting women upheld marital bliss as the ultimate prize. According to Vester, this impulse to cast food and cooking as a “stand-in for heteronormative sexuality” dates back to the end of the 19th century, a time when there was a cultural push for unmarried women to use cooking “to find husbands, and for married women to find ways to keep their husbands.”

That said, there were some exceptions. Twelve years before she became the New York Times’ first female restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton authored The Seducer’s Cookbook, a 1963 tome containing, as she wrote, “helpful and hilarious hints for situations into which men may lure women and vice versa.” Sheraton casts women as equal-opportunity seducers, something more or less unheard of at the time. “What we are concerned with here is the delectable and subtle art of luring, tempting, enticing, leading someone into going to bed with you in the most delightful way possible,” she writes. “For if the seduction is planned artfully, it can whet your sexual appetite in the same way that a piquant hor d’oeuvre prepares your palate for the main course to come.” Sheraton treats seduction cooking as perfectly acceptable outside of marriage, and offers ideas for what to make the morning after. There are cheeky illustrations of topless women sprinkled among the recipes for strawberries chantilly, shrimp bisque, and dandelion salad. Perhaps the most notable thing about this very notable book is the fact it was published at all.

In the ’70s, as sexual freedom filtered through American culture and the modern porn industry began to boom, erotic cookbooks also enjoyed something of a renaissance: Sex Pots…And Pans (1970), Fanny Hill’s Cook Book (1971), Lewd Food: The Complete Guide to Aphrodisiac Edibles (1974), Aphrodisiac Cookbook: Meals to Pep Up Your Love Life (1975), and Food for Lovers (1977) were just a few of the many titles published that decade. Some were campy, some pornographic, and some veered toward prudish, opting for coded language about love rather than direct discussions of seduction.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Goodspeed

Lewd Food, which falls at the campy/pornographic end of the spectrum, describes itself as a book for “bawdy love games from stove to mattress” as well as for the “sex maniac’s quick weightloss lust diet.” At the more demure end is Aphrodisiac Cookery (1970), which accompanies its recipe for simmered milk with honey with a description of sweets as “proper fare for the sweetheart,” able to open the “body and soul of the receiver.” Similarly, the 1970 Lovers Dining — written by Irena Chalmers, a prolific and award-winning cookbook author — contains recipes that wouldn’t be out of place on the typical Valentine’s Day restaurant menu (clams casino, apricot parfait) but no outright sexual elements. Its intent is largely signaled by its title.

Although erotic cookbooks, with the exception of Playboy’s titles, have remained on the fringes of the cookbook publishing industry, today’s aficionados have nudged them ever so slightly toward more mainstream appreciation. You can find them on Instagram, where the account @70sdinnerparty posts vintage cookbook covers with names like Cooking in the Nude for Golf Lovers (clothes-free cooking, for the record, isn’t inherently sexual), and through cookbook sellers like Lizzy Young and Brooklyn’s Archestratus Books and Food. Meanwhile, the demand for bakeries making sex-themed treats, though not a new concept, is surging again.

The genre’s legacy has seeped into unlikely corners of popular culture. To help create the look of the titular magazine for Minx, HBO’s show about a fictional 1970s porn magazine for women, designer Elizabeth Goodspeed looked to her collection of ’70s-era romantic and erotic cookbooks, which she admires for their illustrative elements. “I’ve always been interested in collecting work that is hedonistic,” she says. “Food and sex, things that tap into base parts of being a human, in design tend to be dialed-up and kitschy more than other areas.”

Illustration was a general trend across the cookbook industry in the ’70s but one particularly well-suited to the genre, given its content and limited budgets. According to Goodspeed, the graphic design elements that distinguish the bulk of the era’s erotic cookbooks track with its corresponding trends in illustration, which was dominated by the psychedelia-tinged style of illustrators like Peter Max and Push Pin Studios. The 1979 Aphrodisia: A Guide to Sexual Food, Herbs, and Drugs, prefaces recipes intended to make readers “horny, hungry, and happy” with an illustrated cover that shows a naked man and woman sprouting from flowers that grow from a plate.

The cover of Aphrodisia: a naked man and woman rise out of flowers that sprout from a plate. Illustration.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Goodspeed

Charming as they can be, erotic cookbooks are not without their (sexist) baggage — just like many documents of our changing sexual mores. Many of them, no matter the era, are written through the male gaze, and for a cisgendered-heteronormative audience. As Vester notes, the erotic cookbooks marketed to men promote the notion of women being discardable and ingestible, not unlike a meal itself.

The problem, Emily Contois points out, isn’t confined to the erotic cookbook genre: it’s in the “dude masculinity” that fills the pages of many cookbooks aimed at men. “We tend to think of men cooking at home as egalitarian, as sharing food labor, but these ‘men’s cookbooks’ show how that sense of equal power doesn’t actually materialize,” says Contois, author of Diners, Dudes, and Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture. That failure is perfectly (if unfortunately) encapsulated by this Amazon review of The Playboy Gourmet: “My first impression of this book was, ‘Damn, where are all the naked ladies’…If you are single and like to cook and want to have sex with women you cook for then buy this book.”

That isn’t to say women haven’t exercised agency within the erotic cookbook genre. Along with Sheraton’s The Seducer’s Cookbook, titles such as the aforementioned Sex Pots…And Pans, Food For Love: What to Eat and Drink to Arouse Your Erotic Power (1968), and Dirty Dining: A Cookbook and More for Lovers (1993) attempt to position women as being in charge of their sexuality, through cooking.

But that doesn’t mean they should be used as a mirror for contemporary progressive ideas. “Some of the earlier erotic cookbooks were in some ways radical, but don’t necessarily stand the same test of time,” says Rachel Hope Cleves, a history professor who is writing a book about food and sexuality, with a section about the history of erotic cookbooks. She adds that we perhaps “ask too much of them,” to fit in today’s feminism.

Whatever their failings, erotic cookbooks — much like the broader erotica genre — can also function as an outlet for marginalized people to express themselves and find empowerment. Vester, who, like Cleves, has written about the history of the queer cookbook, points to the 1998 Lesbian Erotic Cookbook as an example: Written by and for women, it features recipes intended to nourish, along with photographs of naked female bodies that reject notions of mainstream beauty standards. Or consider The Men of Fire Island Present Hot Cookin, its pages scattered with photographs of partially nude gay men; published in 1994, amid the AIDS epidemic, it reads as a defiantly joyous celebration of body positivity. (Young, for her part, says it continues to sell well for her shop.)

Self-empowerment is similarly a focus for the new generation interested in vintage cookbooks. “Some of what our zine is trying to do is turn those tropes [of cooking to get a husband] on their heads and endorse baking for our own hedonistic pleasure, instead of thinking about it as the sort of simple thing to be offered up to a husband or as a mode of seduction,” Tanya Bush, a baker and the co-founder of the self-published Cake Zine, whose first issue is called “Sexy Cake,” told Eater.

That kind of sex positivity has found its way into the food media, too. After leaving her job at the food blog the Takeout at the start of the year, the James Beard Award-nominated writer Allison Robicelli decided to bet on herself and start what she calls “a serialized NSFW food-centric erotic soap opera, with recipes” in the form of a Substack newsletter. “It’s like Fifty Shades erotica with food,” Robicelli explains. It’s been especially cathartic for her to create content about women 40 and older, who are too often left out of horny discourse.

Now, Robicelli is working on an erotic cookbook that she hopes to sell to a publisher. “Everyone knows food can be disastrous in the bedroom, [but] I love that playfulness and silliness,” she says — it’s something, she adds, that can be missing from food publications. Robicelli imagines that the recipes in her forthcoming cookbook will diverge from the conventions of what qualifies as horny food. “It goes beyond oysters and that kind of thing,” she says of aphrodisiacs. Later, over email, she offers a case in point: “A sloppy sandwich is the sexiest food known to humankind. Seriously, eat a pastrami sandwich in bed and tell me how good it feels. (You don’t need a partner for this).”

If Robicelli succeeds, her cookbook will be one of the scant few contemporary examples of the genre; so far, the younger generation’s love of vintage titles hasn’t translated to a demand for new ones. And no matter how much erotic cookbooks may wax and wane in popularity, they will emphatically remain not for everyone. When approached for comment for this story, the owner of a lauded New York City vintage cookbook shop replied, “Thanks, for asking, but—ick!” Nevertheless, she was later kind enough to share a list of titles that might be worth exploring.

“And,” she wrote, “that’s all I have to say on the subject (gag).”

Clay Hickson is an illustrator living in Los Angeles, California. He is also the owner/operator of Caboose, a small publisher of mediocre quality.


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Ex-priest with long record of sexual abuse out on statutory release

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Eric Dejaeger was twice jailed for offences he committed against Inuit youth from 1974 to1989

A former Roman Catholic  priest convicted in 2015 on 36 counts of sexual abuse that took place in Nunavut between 1974 and 1989 has been released from prison.

Eric Dejaeger, 75, was released May 19 after serving two-thirds of a 19-year sentence he was given in 2011 for sex crimes he committed against Inuit youth and some adults between 1974 and 1982.

Dejaeger had previously served a five-year sentence starting in 1990 for sex-related crimes he committed between 1982 and 1989.

A statutory release is a legislated release and not a conditional one, otherwise known as parole, said Wendy Smith, a Parole Board of Canada spokesperson for the Nunavut and Ontario regions.

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act requires that most federal offenders who have served two-thirds of a fixed-length sentence be released from prison, under supervision in the community by the Correctional Service of Canada.

The parole board does not make statutory release decisions, but may impose special conditions deemed reasonable and necessary for the protection of society, Smith said.

Under his statutory release conditions, Dejaeger must return to an approved residence every night, have no contact with his victims, have no contact with children, and must report any friendships with women to his parole officer.

The Parole Board decision document does not identify the location the Belgium-born Dejaeger was released to, but noted he indicated an interest in volunteering for the Oblates, a Roman Catholic order associated with running schools, upon release. In 1995, he fled Canada to Belgium at the end of his first prison sentence to avoid prosecution on other charges, the decision document said.

Dejaeger was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault, including rape, buggery, indecent assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and bestiality against 25 victims.

The majority of his victims were between the ages of nine and 13, although some were younger and some were adults, according to the judge during sentencing.

“As a spiritual authority figure, you were in a position of great trust in relation to the victims, which you used to groom and silence them. You also used physical violence and caused serious physical injuries to some of the victims,” the parole board’s decision stated.

“The victims suffered devastating and ongoing emotional and psychological harm that also impacted those around them.”

The parole board’s decision also noted that while Dejaeger’s conduct while in custody was “positive” and he had no misconducts, he is still considered to be at a moderate-level risk to reoffend.

“Your offence history is very serious and demonstrates your potential for violent behaviour as it involves numerous sexual assaults that you committed over the course of approximately 15 years,” it said.


Dejaeger’s deeds

Eric Dejaeger, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest and notorious sex offender, was given statutory release from prison in May. He served two-thirds of his 19-year sentence for sex crimes he committed against boys and girls and adults while in the North.

A Parole Board of Canada decision document includes a history of the Belgian-born disgraced former cleric’s time in Canada.

Age: 75
Born: Belgium. Raised by “emotionally distant” parents. Completed school, pursued work as electrician before deciding to become a priest.
To Canada: age 26.

1974-1982 – studied to become priest, served as ordained priest; committed crimes against 25 victims during this period.

1989 – diagnosed with pedophilia during pre-sentence psychological assessment.

1990 – sentenced to five years in prison for crimes committed between 1982-89.

1991 – received concurrent sentence for two sexual assaults against young boys.

1995 – prison sentence ends; charged with more offences but “fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution.” Lived “unlawfully” in Belgium until 2011.

2011 – arrested, deported to Canada on an immigration violation; taken into pre-trial custody.

2015 – convicted of crimes committed, 1974-1982; sentenced to 19 years in prison.

2022 – given statutory release after serving two-thirds of sentence.

Ex-priest with long record of sexual abuse out on statutory release

Nicola Adams: Sport has always respected my sexuality but there is still a long way to go

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Nicola Adams writes as guest editor as part of Metro.co.uk’s Pride Takeover (Picture: Getty)

During my boxing career, I faced a lot of challenges. But thankfully, coming out and sharing my story never really affected my sporting life.

It was being female in boxing that was more offensive than anything else. My sexuality was never a big thing within the sport. Eyebrows were raised because I was a woman in boxing, not because I was a gay woman in boxing.

It was never really brought up or paid any attention to. Fighting as a woman was the biggest struggle. I had my first fight at the age of 13 as an amateur and had to wait another four years to fight again. It wasn’t easy but that wasn’t because I was gay, it was because I was a woman.

Boxing is one of those sports that is inclusive across race, colour, religion and sexuality. Anyone can go to the gym and put some gloves on. It is one of the sports where you don’t particularly need a lot of money to get involved.

Boxing at Manchester Arena

Nicola Adams fought on the biggest stages throughout her career (Picture: Getty)

When I first started, my hero was Muhammad Ali. I grew up watching reruns of him in action, winning an Olympic gold medal, turning professional and becoming a champion and one of the greatest of all time.

The things he did outside the ring were unbelievable and changed the lives of a lot of people. Boxing has always been an inclusive sport – as long as you put the work in you are accepted, there are no limitations.

I think in the past, there have been misconceptions that if you are gay, you can’t like sport. It’s ridiculous. But in boxing, it is not something that I have ever really been aware of. It has always been very inclusive.

Nicola Adams sporting achievements

  • In 2001 became the first female boxer to represent England, becoming English amateur champion two years later.
  • Became the first English female boxer to win a medal at a major boxing tournament with silver at the 2007 European Championships.
    Won World Championship silver in 2008 and 2010 before claiming European gold in 2011.
  • Represented Team GB at London 2012, beating world no1 Ren Cancan to claim the gold medal – becoming the first woman to ever win gold in the sport.
  • Won gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
  • Returned to the Olympics to defend her title in Rio 2016 with a win over Sarah Ourahmoune of France.
  • Turned professional 2017 with Frank Warren, becoming the first woman to join the British promoter’s stable of fighters.
  • After three wins, beat former world champion Isabel Millan for the WBO interim title in 2018.
  • Was elevated to full WBO champion in 2019 before defending her title against Maria Salinas in the first female fight to be held at the Royal Albert Hall.
  • Announced her retirement from boxing in 2019 after suffering eye damage against Salinas

In other sports of course, there is still a ways to go. The fact there has only been one openly gay male footballer in the UK in the last 30 years just shows how scared people are of just wanting to be themselves.

It shows there is a very long way to go for people to be who they want to be without being afraid. We are on this planet for such a short space of time. Imagine not being able to be yourself for the time you are actually here. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Thankfully in my sporting journey, I didn’t experience much discrimination, I found an accepting environment in boxing. It just wasn’t an issue for people, I was just another boxer.

I think people were there to give me support which was good, but I never really had the need to. I was happy. And I guess that’s how it should be for everybody, right?

I found peace in the gym and in the ring, it’s a home for so many people.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

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Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of Pride

This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.

MORE: Find all of Metro.co.uk’s Pride coverage right here

And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, we’ll also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights. 

During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, Metro.co.uk will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.

Nicola Adams: Boxing and sport has always respected my sexuality but there is still a long way to go

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How long can average man stay erect? These factors contribute

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Jun 01, 2022 14:43 IST

New Delhi [India], June 1 (ANI): Staying erect for long or holding an erection during times of performance pressure can certainly be a tricky time where you don’t quite know what is in store for you.
As studies have suggested that a penile erection can last from a few minutes to about half an hour, the duration for which an erection can last depends on a lot of factors, such as age, overall health, and sexual activity.
On average, men have five erections while they sleep at night, each lasting about 25 to 35 minutes.
An erection is one of the primary signs of sexual arousal for people. Being a physical response to chemical reactions in the body, holding an erection is an integral part of healthy sex life.
Erections are complex and each requires your heart, lungs, hormones, nerves, blood vessels, and mood to work together. Reactions overlooked in this chain can lead to erectile dysfunction or other problems with your sexual function.

How do erections work?
During sexual arousal, tiny blood vessels in the penis dilate, increasing the blood flow. Three tubes of spongy tissue (known as the corpus cavernosum and corpus spongiosum) fill with blood, hence an erection occurs. After ejaculation, as the extra blood drains away, the penis reverts to its flaccid size and appearance. Then your penis enters a rest or refractory period before it can get hard again.
Types of erections :
There are three different types of erections namely, Reflexive erections, Psychogenic erections and Nocturnal erections.
Psychogenic erections happen spontaneously, without thinking about sex.
Psychogenic erections occur in response to sexual stimuli, memory, or fantasy.
Nocturnal erections happen during sleep.
What affects erections?
Erections vary from time to time. Sometimes an erection can be held for an hour, sometimes for a few minutes. There isn’t any study on how thousands of men last with their erections, but there are certainly some factors that affect the duration of an erection, such as age, health problems, side effects of medications, level of sexual stimulation or arousal, sexual activity (whether you’re masturbating or having sex), and mental state (whether you are trying to become aroused or a surprise erection at work.)
How to improve erections?
If you have problems getting an erection, and you find that your erection is not as firm as you want, or it doesn’t last long enough to satisfy your partner sexually, there’s a high chance you might have erectile dysfunction or ED. But thankfully, there are some of these things that can help you fight erectile dysfunction.
You may have an erection problem as your head might not be in the right place or you are not feeling well. Stress and distraction can affect the quality of your erection to some extent. It’s always a wise option to spend more time on foreplay as it helps to slow things down and lessens further distractions around you.
Lifestyle Changes
Erections are the most effective when one’s healthy. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle by simple changes into one’s daily life such as getting regular exercise, avoiding junk food, and eating a healthy diet, might be enough to improve erectile dysfunction,
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Over-drinking and the use of tobacco products can definitely affect the quality of your erection. Smoking can also lead to blood vessel damage and erectile dysfunction. It is best to drink moderately and avoid tobacco altogether.
Being open with your partner about your sexual likes, dislikes, and fantasies can keep sex more exciting in long-term relationships. Don’t cause conflict in your bedroom-relationship issues can certainly contribute to erectile dysfunction. (ANI)


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Don Lee’s Long War on Asian American Stereotypes

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By Don Lee

Few fiction writers have worked as tirelessly to subvert stereotypes about “Orientals” as the Korean American Don Lee. The protagonists in his debut, the 2001 story collection “Yellow,” range in ethnicity (from Korean to Japanese to Chinese) and occupation (from professional elites to mad poets), suggesting the heterogeneity of contemporary Asian American life. Lee’s novels, whether about Asian spies in 1980s Japan (“Country of Origin”) or bohemian Asian artists in Cambridge, Mass. (“The Collective”), also span a broad spectrum. But the organizing conceit of all his fiction has remained consistent: Asian Americans are not monoliths.

“The Partition,” Lee’s first collection of stories since “Yellow,” represents a return to form, replaying many of the same thematic and stylistic concerns from his debut. The opening story, “Late in the Day,” follows the failed career of a once-promising indie filmmaker who now makes vanity projects for rich Californian Asians. “Confidants” lingers on the everyday romantic exploits of two Asian Americans: one a high school dropout who quickly lets us know he is “not a model minority,” and the other an alluring English professor at Johns Hopkins. In “UFOs” (an acronym for “Ugly Orientals,” with an unprintable adjective in between), a Korean American news reporter who has plastic surgery and Anglicizes her name to Victoria Crawford simultaneously dates two men: a white guy with an Asian fetish, named Richard, and an Asian doctor and purported UFO named Yung-duk Moon. The story ends with a twist, perhaps a predictable one in Lee’s hands; Victoria dumps Yung-duk in a moment of sudden cruelty, only to realize later that the true UFO might be herself.

Here we meet the same figures and tropes from “Yellow”: striving artists who sell out; slackers; lovers with internalized self-hatred that turns them violently bitter and paranoid. Many different faces fall under the loose and muddied category “yellow,” though “The Partition” is largely populated by those of East Asian descent (that is, those who have historically been put into this category); South and Southeast Asians rarely appear in his books. Still, Lee narrates from a collective perspective, his stories offering a kaleidoscopic vision of all the ways it feels to be yellow.

Most of the stories in “The Partition” feature aging characters who look back nostalgically on an earlier period in their life. “Years Later,” the shortest story in the collection, depicts a young woman’s erotic encounter, climaxing in a proleptic vision of her hitherto unknown future: “She wanted it to last forever, this feeling — youth, time, glory, everything still before her, waiting, her extraordinary life — but she felt it rolling over her and gave in to it.” Sentences like these, intended to move the reader, often tip into overwritten melodrama. Lee’s stories are often about disappointment, but his prose, too, can disappoint in deflating moments such as these.

The book concludes with an ambitious three-story cycle titled “Les Hôtels d’Alain,” which tracks the itinerant bildung of one Alain Kweon from his youth as an aspiring thespian to his lonely middle-aged years as a washed-up actor, who now runs a successful chain of artisanal boba shops. “I had had this amorphous idea that my boba tea business would be a way to affirm and celebrate my — and other Asian Americans’ — racial heritage,” Alain reflects late in the final story. “Yet boba tea wasn’t Korean or Okinawan or anything else of mine ethnically. It’d simply been another appropriation, another commodification in the guise of cultural identity. What did it amount to? … Had it all been a lie?”

These questions resonate fearfully throughout “The Partition.” In some ways, Alain is a kind of Everyman — the aimless, alienated American male overpopulating the classic short stories of John Cheever, J. D. Salinger and Richard Yates. When he’s viewed through the lens of Lee’s significant career and contributions, however, it’s hard not to read Alain also as a metaphor for the collective struggles of contemporary Asian American self-representation. And how much there is still left to do.

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