We recently published Yunya Yang’s cutting “The Warrior.”

Here, we ask her two questions about her story:

1) I love the transformation here as the character changes for kendo — there is something so powerful and so pure in it. Do you think she holds on to some of this feeling when she changes back into her dress? Or is this brief moment all she gets?

I think the feeling has always been in her, just in a dormant state. I think of the dress as a disguise, something she wears to survive out there. Her armor gives her anonymity – the Men that hides her face, and the Do that hides her body – and grants her power to be anybody she wants to be. At that moment, she thinks of being born in this country, being a man, being white, but she doesn’t really want to be those things, what she wants is the power that comes with being those things, which to me is the tragedy here. At that moment it feels empowering, but it is also sad that only when she is anonymous can she feel powerful. She doesn’t feel powerful in her own skin. This, I think, is where the anger at the end comes from, that desire to turn the tables. 

2) I want to talk about how you address this idea of being “othered” so effectively! In one sentence, you let us know everything about this character, about the space she inhabits, about this country, about this world. So I guess this is less a question and more of a compliment! How did you manage to get all that into one little sentence?

Thank you! I think she is defined more by who she is not, than who she is. By the end of the story, we still don’t really know exactly what she looks like or where she is from, but we know who she is not and what she does not have. I feel in this way, she is specific enough, but can also be a universal figure – she is anybody who is an immigrant and a woman of color. The capitalization of certain words might have helped too? I started with capitalizing only the Japanese words, but then when I got to the end, it felt right to capitalize those last couple of words too, together with the Japanese ones, almost like power tugging on two opposite ends. One is power within her, the one that supports her, and the other is power from the outside, the one that oppresses her.