Donald Duk

A novel by Frank Chin

February 1, 1991 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 176 pages • 978-0918273-83-3

As twelve-year-old Donald Duk burns 108 model airplanes in mid-flight to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Frank Chin torches stereotypes of Asian-Americans.

Welcome to Chinatown, Chinese New Year in San Francisco. The day of the dog. The day of the thief. Everybody’s birthday. The lantern festival of the fifteenth day. Welcome home. Crashing Cantonese opera, dancing lions, comic book heroes, and a childhood among partying pagans . . . . Little Donald Duk is a twelve-year-old kid with everything, including a name he doesn’t like and a family who doesn’t deserve him. As he completes his first turn around the Chinese zodiac’s cycle of twelve animals, the Mandate of Heaven turns; he takes flight and dreams himself a home. As this novel opens, Donald Duk would rather be Fred Astaire than the son of a Chinatown restauranteur. Through the course of this robust, vigorous work, Donald learns to see himself more clearly as he, and we, see his culture free of distortive stereotypes.

About the Author

Frank Chin is the author of a collection of stories, The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co., and two novels, Donald Duk and Gunga Din Highway. The first Chinese-American to have a play produced on a New York stage, he is known for uncompromising portrayals of Chinese-Americans as well as for incorporation of Chinese mythology into his work. Frank Chin’s plays include The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon, which was produced for PBS. He currently lives on I-5 between Los Angeles and all points north to Seattle.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“Frank Chin’s unique literary recipe—red hot chop suey laced with laughing powder and amphetamines—makes most so-called ‘modern’ writing look old-fashioned, chauvinistic and tedious.” —Tom Robbins

“Chin whips out a tale of heritage, mythology and coming-of-age at a razor-sharp pace with a sense of humor and drama that sets his story, and his readers, on their ears.” Milwaukee Journal

“A small masterpiece.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“Prose that rings like gongs and pops like a string of firecrackers.” Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Wonderfully zany coming-of-age journey that deals with the interpenetration of Chinese myth and American popular culture.” Kirkus Reviews

“Donald Duk, 12-year-old son of a Chinatown chef in San Francisco, hates his name and, even worse, hates being Chinese. In his dreams he tells his idol, Fred Astaire, about relatives so determined not to become American that they adjust the color on their televisions to make everyone look Asian.” Miami Herald

“Highly recommended for wit, style, and lack of stereotypes.” Kliatt

“Chin takes total control of whole cultures, both East and West, in working his magic.” —Michi Weglyn