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Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s award-winning yet remarkably neglected Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1993) explores female adolescence and coming of age in a rich, polyphonic collection of verse novellas. “Loving the Unlovable Body” focuses on Yamanaka’s treatment of this transition as a fully embodied, fraught, and often painful experience by explicating the uses of several tropes used to express girls’ experiences of their bodies: eating, voice, eyes, fragmentation, and marking/naming. These metaphors contribute to the development of a complex range of possibilities from devastating to hopeful, presented in juxtaposition and interplay, for girls’ relationships to their culturally denigrated bodies and the consequences to their attempts at positive sense of self.


This article was originally published in Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies, available at



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