Just as the Asian American ethnic group is a political coalition, Asian American literature may be thought of as an emergent and evolving textual coalition, whose interests it is the business of a professional coalition of Asian American critics to promote.It's an elegant conception, simple to the point of brilliance, possibly the only coherent theory of how Asian American texts work together I've seen. Reading the rest of the book, I can't argue with the results.
But I'm still trying to decide whether, on some more fundamental level, I buy that basic move. It's a way around the thornier word "tradition"--acknowledging that the usual lines of influence and direct allusion that might define, say, the tradition of British or American letters simply won't suffice to hold together a diffuse and emergent canon. It's also a way to avoid a conception of Asian American literature that uses an extratextual prop--say, the (fictious) unity of "Asian American history" or "Asian American experience"--to give the category coherence.