Born Winnifred Eaton to a British father and Chinese mother, Onoto Watanna was the first novelist of Chinese descent published in the United States. Eaton "became" Watanna to escape Americans' scorn of the Chinese and to capitalize on their fascination with all things Japanese.
This volume includes nineteen of Watanna's shorter works, including thirteen short stories and six essays. "A Half Caste," the earliest essay, appeared in 1898, a year before Miss Numé: A Japanese-American Romance, the first of her bestselling novels. The last short story, “Elspeth,” appeared in 1923. Some of Watanna’s fictional characters will remind readers of the delicate but tragic Madame Butterfly, while others foreshadow types like the trickster in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey (where Watanna makes a cameo appearance). Throughout, Watanna tells stories of people very much like herself—capable, clever, and endlessly inventive.