AAWW Radio: New Asian American Literature

Asian American Writers' Workshop

All your favorite Asian American writers reading & in conversation with each other. AAWW Radio is the podcast of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, a national nonprofit and an alternative literary arts space working at the intersection of race, migration, and social justice. We're dedicated to the idea that Asian American stories deserve to be told. Learn more at http://aaww.org

AAWW Radio Podcast Teaser
Trailer 2 min 34 sec

All Episodes

We have a special interview with author Matthew Salesses, conducted by writer and anthropologist May Ngo back in February. Together, they dissect Matthew’s book Craft in the Real World, and have deep conversations about making writing workshops more equally accessible and how to think about one’s audience. They question the concept of agency, and how stories of lack of agency can actually feel more grounding, as well as dig into difficult questions of responsibility to our communities as writers of color and people from marginalized communities, and the complexity of wanting to represent a community but also be free from expectation. This is also the last episode produced by AAWW AV Producer Robert Ouyang Rusli.

May 12

50 min 17 sec

AAWW and indie bookstore Books Are Magic partned together to celebrate musician Michelle Zauner’s debut memoir, Crying In H Mart. Best known for her work as the musician Japanese Breakfast, Zauner’s memoir is an astonishing debut: a rich, intimate, and lyrical story about finding yourself, and the enduring power of food and family. Zauner is joined in conversation at this event by Hrishikesh Hirway, musician and host/producer of the podcasts Song Exploder, Home Cooking, and more.

May 5

1 hr

AAWW celebrates the paperback launch of C Pam Zhang’s debut novel How Much of These Hills is Gold, which was longlisted for The Booker Prize, among other accolades. Since its publication last spring, this haunting, spare, and achingly beautiful novel has been widely praised for turning its unflinching gaze on the people and legends of the American West, illuminating the voices of those who are often forgotten in the margins of history. Joining Pam in conversation to celebrate her book is writer and comedian Karen Chee. 

Apr 28

1 hr 2 min

We're featuring audio from our recent event Anti-Asian Violence and Black-Asian Solidarity Today presented by Tamara K. Nopper. This lecture examines the merging of fighting “anti-Asian violence” with the promotion of “Black-Asian solidarity” in the context of COVID-19, and considers the work these narratives are doing and if they challenge or promote carceral logic. What might these narratives reveal or conceal about Asian Americans and racial politics?How does the legacy of the 1992 LA Rebellion influence what's happening today? Tamara's lecture ultimately calls for defunding the police and for abolition. The original livestream was accompanied by images and educational slides, you can view these on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/l7MNPXHT0wM

Apr 14

1 hr 58 min

In time for the Association of Asian American Studies Conference that kicks off this week, we’re reposting an episode from the newly launched Journal of Asian American Studies podcast! We discuss a unique special issue of The Journal of Asian American Studies: #WeToo, a reader of Art, Poetry, Fiction, and Memoir, that seeks to answer the question, “What does sexual violence look like in the lives of those hailed as “model minority?” Intended as a reader for the college classroom, the #WeToo special issue contains works that make academic language and theories of sexual violence relevant and workable for our students’ understanding of their own lives and experiences. This episode is hosted by Chris Patterson and features interviews with the issue editors, erin Khuê Ninh and Shireen Roshanravan, as well as with two contributors, James McMaster, and Mashuq Mushtaq Deen. This special issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies was published in partnership with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and our digital magazine The Margins. Read a selection of pieces from #WeToo online at https://aaww.org/we-too-introduction-ninh-roshanravan/ Forthcoming episodes of the JAAS X New Books Network Podcast can be found here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/erin-khu%C3%AA-ninh-wetoo-reader-jaas-2021

Apr 7

47 min 5 sec

We're celebrating Priyanka Champaneri’s debut novel, The City of Good Death. Priyanka will be in conversation with special guest Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop. Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, The City of Good Death is an immersive family saga exploring death, rebirth, and redemption set in India’s holy city of Banaras.

Apr 1

59 min 31 sec

Acclaimed poet, novelist, and essayist Kazim Ali joins the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and Milkweed Editions to launch his new memoir, Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water. Northern Light, a sensitive and elegantly structured exploration of land and power, is told through Ali’s recollections of his childhood in Manitoba, and the relationships he built with the indigenous Pimicikamak community, his former neighbors and fierce environmental activists. Ali is joined in conversation by poet and scholar Billy-Ray Belcourt.

Mar 24

1 hr 2 min

Join the Asian American Writers’ Workshop as we celebrate award-winning writer Chang-rae Lee’s electrifying new novel, My Year Abroad. A surprising, tender, and humorous work, My Year Abroad is a story unique to Chang-rae Lee’s immense talents as a writer, and explores the division between East and West, capitalism, mental health, mentorship, and much more. Chang-rae will be joined in conversation by Bryan Washington, award-winning author of Lot and Memorial.

Mar 17

1 hr 5 min

AAWW is delighted to celebrate the launch of writer Nikesh Shukla’s new memoir, Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family, and Home. An intimate look at love, grief, and fatherhood, Shukla’s memoir “bears witness to our turbulent times” (Bernardine Evaristo) with humor, honesty, and hope. Shukla is joined in conversation by Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk.

Mar 10

59 min 17 sec

In the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism!, Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman have collected a bold group of emerging writers whose prescient and intimate writing paints an expansive portrait of the experience of being women and femmes of color. The first edition of the anthology became an instant classic in 2002, and this updated 2019 edition was a protest to the political Trump regime in our country. The experiences and intellectual insights in Colonize This! help sharpen our analysis for the struggles ahead, regardless of who is in the White House. This audio is from the launch party of Colonize This!, from August 16, 2019.

Mar 3

1 hr 47 min

Our series Radical Thinkers places radical academics directly in conversation with trailblazing writers, poets, and artists, creating and nurturing two-way dialogues that will interrogate some of the most pressing issues facing Asian and Asian diasporic communities today. Featuring an interdisciplinary lineup of scholars and creatives, these unexpected pairings will center revolutionary discourse and scholarship in an effort to demystify intellectual debates, collapse the divide between the ‘ivory tower’ and the public sphere, and ultimately envision a radical new future. The first installment of this series in 2021 features novelist Simon Han (Nights When Nothing Happened) and scholar Tahseen Shams (Here, There, and Elsewhere) in conversation on their creative and scholarly processes, and immigrant relationships to time and place. Watch the video version on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/QvhON7QvuyY

Feb 24

1 hr 46 min

We're celebrating the release of Lee Isaac Chung's critically acclaimed film Minari, a tender portrait of a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. Today’s podcast features audio from our pre-release screening talkback with director Lee Isaac Chung and novelist Min Jin Lee.

Feb 17

36 min 7 sec

Join the Asian American Writers’ Workshop for the official launch of Te-Ping Chen’s extraordinary debut short story collection, Land of Big Numbers. Assured and immersive, the stories in Land of Big Numbers move confidently between the United States and China, shifting from realism to magical realism, and forming intimate portraits that draw from Chen’s years of working as a journalist in China. For this launch event, Chen will be joined in conversation by Charles Yu, author of the National Book Award-winning Interior Chinatown.

Feb 10

1 hr 1 min

What are the radical possibilities of catalyzing cross-racial feminist solidarities, imaginations, and substantive realities? What revolutions must we create within ourselves to dismantle our prejudices, discrimination, and silences to create the world we want to see? Today’s podcast features audio from our recent event Siblings in Liberation, Black and Asian Feminist Solidarities, which celebrated the editorial collaboration between Black Women Radicals and the Asian American Feminist Collective that found a home in AAWW’s digital magazine The Margins. Black and Asian Feminist Solidarities is an ongoing monthly series of critical essays, conversations, poetry, fiction, and more. The series looks to Black and Asian American feminist histories, practices, and frameworks on care, community, and survival as the tools and strategies to build towards collective liberation. This episode features remarks and discussion with Jaimee Swift of Black Women Radicals and Tiffany Diane Tso, Senti Sojwal, Salonee Bhaman, and Rachel Kuo of the Asian American Feminist Collective; a poetry reading by Cecile Afable and Zuri Gordon; a conversation between sex work activists Kate Zen and SX Noir; and ending reflections with Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey (aka DJ MOR Love & Joy). Black and Asian Feminist Solidarities was originally live streamed on our YouTube channel last week on Thursday, January 28th.  Read more about the collaboration on The Margins.

Feb 4

1 hr 17 min

AAWW and London-based writer April Yee present a reading with two of the UK’s leading poets: Will Harris (RENDANG) and Romalyn Ante (Antiemetic for Homesickness). Following their reading, Will and Romalyn examine how Asian identity is constructed outside of the United States and discuss the ways British colonialism and capitalism continue to shape ideas of what and who belongs. Moderated by April Yee.

Jan 27

1 hr 12 min

Join the Asian American Writers’ Workshop for our first event of the new year: a joint paperback launch of Gish Jen’s The Resisters and Meng Jin’s Little Gods. These two novels, released in early 2020, sketch out a dystopian near future that takes aim at several current catastrophes, and examine history, absence, and the passage of time as filtered through the individual immigrant experience. Together, these works break new ground for the dystopian and immigrant novels, and we hope you will join us as Gish and Meng discuss their work and craft.   Live Transcript: Hi, everyone. Happy new year and thank you for joining us online for this conversation with Meng Jin and Gish Jen. My name is Lily Philpott. It is my pleasure to welcome you to our virtual space. For those that are new we are a nonprofit organization dedicated to uplifting Asian literature and story telling. You can visit aaw.org and follow us on twitter, I object Saturday gram and YouTube. The recording of this event will be posted. During the event we ask that all audience members practice nonviolence in the chat. Comments will be flagged and the person will be removed from this event. We will have time for audience Q&A at the end of the night. You can ask questions by the Q &A function at the bottom of your screen. Books are for sale. You can find a link to purchase in the chat. You can support our authorize and independent book stores in doing so. I am going briefly introduce Meng and Gish. Gish Jen is the author of 4 previous novels. Her honors cloud the literary award for fiction and the American academy of arts and sciences. She delivered the William E Macy lecture at Harvard universitity. She teaches from time to time in China and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Harvard and hunter college. "Little Gods" is her first novel. We are delighted to celebrate " Little Gods" and "The Resisters" back in paper back. Pick up those books, support our authorize and enjoy the evening. Welcome Meng Jin to read. » Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Thank you Lily for that lovely introduction. Thank to AAWW for inviting Meng Jin to do this event. I couldn't think of a more wonderful way to celebrate the paper back launch of those books. I am so honored to be here with Gish Jen who many of you might know was one of the first Chinese American authorize that I read when I started thinking about becoming a writer. Yeah, it's just kind of mind blowing that we get to be here tonight together. I am actually going to read from a photo essay that is published in the end section of the paper back. I thought about reading this because I took these photographs in 2016 in the summer of 2016 when actually I saw Gish in person for the first time. I don't know if we actually met. But Gish was doing an event with some local writers and a friend of mine invited me. So yeah, here are the -- here is the photo essay . I am going to share my screen. Images of Shanghai I spent 6 weeks in my birth city Shanghai. I was there to finish my novel "Little Gods". I left when I was a child. My memories of the city are the memories of a child fleeting, flashes of sensory knowledge, closer to the knowledge of a dream than that of a photograph. Inside these memories were images so intense and vivid I felt I could reach out and touch them. But when I did reach for them they disintegrated immediately. I hope to stabilize my memory with images of the real city outside my window the Shanghai of post cards was laid before me sharp and glittering. This was a Shanghai that had been built after my departure when the sky line was farmland . Time changed me too. We faced each other as strangers. Some days the city felt dense. It awed me with its layers of complexity. Each time you peeled one another, you found another just as teaming. The inner most layer was the one I sought between the cracks of the buildings crowding the feet of the sky line. We'ved weaved through the sit. I knew I would never find the exact Shanghai I was looking for. My childhood had been demolished. On previous visits I had searched for its remnants in vein. The closest I had gotten was confirmation of its non-existence. In a translated directory I found the name of my neighborhood with a single asterisk beside it. According to the note note it meant has been obliterated. Still I walk the streets where it should have been searching for glimmers glimmers that might bring my childhood home back to me in one unbroken piece. Some remain. In thosalies you can these allies you can see the disruption of empire, technology and nature. The architecture was pleasantly modeled colonel history the narrow allies are made narrower by frequent stacks of junk. Not a centimeter of space goes unused. Everywhere life is spilling out of the doors. Most of the time, however , the impossibility of my search was reflected back at me. Since 2005 the Shanghai municipal government has been modernizing the city through the demolition of the neighborhoods. Select areas have been preserved for historic value or rebuilt as tourist destinations. But most are marked with. Sometimes instead of Ti, I found buildings meaning they were empty. A paradox in a city that is continually over filling. I found myself photographing tis. I did not actively search. It is not photo again I can or beautiful. I continued to photograph with a vague imperative of duty to whom or what I didn't know. I still don't understand what good these images are for. They can't preserve anything. Not really . And besides most of the residents would prefer to collect their relocation checks and go. They certainly can't bring back anybody's lost home. But there is something about looking at a site you know will soon disappear that compels to you keep looking. One day I unearthed a lost photograph of my town taken in 2008 during the last visit to the neighborhood before its demolition. I noticed an unusual looking building in the background. Using street view I was able to locate the exact spot where my town would have been if it still stood. I went there. I saw that the unusual building still stood. What's being built here I asked some construction workers. A shopping mall they replied cheerfully. Now when I imagine Shanghai I long for no fixed image. Instead I see a city racing to an unknown future at near light speed in whose wake I can only blink. Thank you. » Hi. Am I on screen now? First let me say Meng that was beautiful. Just hearing your voice and images I can't even tell you how much they meant to me. My family is also from Shanghai an I also spent a lot of time looking for remnants of the past. It's so interesting that even throw my new book is very much concerned with the future, just listen to go you and that Shanghai, I am aware how much even this book is a loss. We'll be talking about that. Let me just read a few minutes from my book. My book as you know is called "The Resisters". It is a post automation state baseball testimony enist dystopia. I am going to read to you 2 sections. One is longer than the other. And then we' ll talk. So this is from the beginning of the bosk. The book is narrated by the father in this family named grant. He is talking about his daughter a gifted picture for a daughter daughter. As her parents should have known earlier, but Gwen was a preemie. That meant oxygen at first and special checkups and her early months were bumpy. She had jaun cidie. A heart murmur things that distracted us. We were focused on her health to the exclusion of all else. For us surplus the limit was one pregnancy per couple and Eleanor was just out of jail. Outside of the house she had a drone tracking her every move. The message was clear she was not getting away with anything . And we loved Gwen would never have wanted to replace her. She was delicate that she might not consume the way she needed to the way we all needed to. Charges of under consumption couldn't be fought in the courts. This was auto America after all for all the changes brought by AI and automation now rolled up with the internet into the eye burrito we called aunt Netty we still did have a constitution. If anyone could defend what was left of our rights it was Eleanor even the goose patrolled the neighborhood. The pit bulls one might say were afraid. But as Eleanor's incarceration brought home these battles had a price. In the meanwhile worrying an weighing the options distracted us from realizing other things things we might have noticed earlier had Gwen had a sibling. It is so hard for a new parent to imagine a child any different from the one he or she has. Children do have their own gravity. They are their own normal. And so it is only now we can see that there are signs. All children take what 's in their crib and throw it for example. It is universal. But Gwen through her stuffed animal straight through her bedroom doorway. They shot out never grazing the door frame and they always hit the wall or staircase at a certain spot with a force they need today bounce forward and drop clean down to the bottom of the stairwell. Was she 2 when she did this? Not even. She was already a southpaw and she seemed to have unusually long arms and long fingers or so I remember remarking one day not that he will nor and I had so many babies on which to base our comparison. Ours was just an impression. But it was a strong impression. Her fingers were long. I remember too having to round up own the landing before starting up the stairs. The stuffed hippo and tiger the stuffed turtle. I gathered them all into my arm like the story book zoo Cooper of some kingdom. It was as if I too by all rights be made plush. Of course our house was automated as all surplus houses were required to be by law. The animals could easily have been clear floated. All I had to do is say the wall they would immerse from the closet. Clear float now, aren't those animals in your way and we can roll an clear if you prefer. You have a choice. You always have a choice. The choice the new feature of the program. To balance its more cyber intimidation. If you shift it will be your own fault. Do note that your choice is on the record. Nothing is being hidden from you. Your choice is on the record. Meaning that I was losing living points every time. Living points being something like what we used to call brownie points growing up. They are more critical than money from goating a loan to getting Gwen into net u should we dream of doing that a goal that involved tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of points. But I picked the animals up myself any way as did Eleanor when it was she who came upon them her silver hair and black eyes shining all because we wanted to dump the animals into the crib and hear her laughter as she set about hurling them. Everything was a game to her a most wonderful loving endless game. Her spy eyes let up with mischief. Her cheeks the pink on the under clouds. She laughed so hard she fell grabbing the crib rails as she scam peopled back up that the whole crib shook. Was this delicate newborn we delicately tended. She wore a soft yellow blanket sleeper with hand knit extra version of a suit Eleanor remembered from her own childhood. None of the baby over Gwen's Crib. She learned to blow on her hands if she was cold and cuddle for us if she needed warmth. We all wore sweaters to avoid turning on the zone heat for which we were house scowled. Don't you find it chilly? Why not turn on the zone heat you will be more comfortable Eleanor especially. Don't you find it a bit chilly? We ignored it. This is how the auto house started with thermostats that sent to aunt Netty and videos then drone deliverers and fruit stockers and global sitters. Elder helpers and yard bots all of which report today ought netty as any spy network recording our steps, our pictures, you are relationships and when surplus had them. She in turn took what she knew and applied it prover ago long the way so will is and advice. Indeed in the earlyize day automation I myself brought up ask aunt Netty and can still remember her voice as she volunteered I 'm here and insisted I want to hear everything and reassured me of course you feel that way , how could you not. You are only human. I did laugh at you are only human. Now I am going to read a short section from later on the book. Gwen has gone on and now she and her teammates are getting ready to play in the olympics against the Russia team. The Russia team is terrifying partly because they have all been bio engineered. That mean we are all switch hitters. Perhaps all of this was fear pure and simple on the part of Gwen's teammate feeding their obsession was the sense that baseball was more than a sport. That it was a crown jewel. There were people that said it wasn't even invented in America. There were people who pointed out it was mentioned by Jane Austin long before it was ever mentioned here. But if baseball took on a hallowed meaning, it took on that meaning in our American dreams. For was this not the level playing field we envisioned, the field on which people could show what they were made of? And didn't we Americans believe above all that everyone should have a real chance at bat? Didn't we believe with the good of the team at heart something in us might just hit a ball off our shoe tops? If Gwen's teammates were playing Russia for something it was for this, for a chance to show my mother would have said that even if we all returned to the dirt and the wind and the rain like the plants and the animals, we had a bigness in us, something beyond algorithm and beyond upgrades. Something we were proud to call human or so it seemed to me. Thank you. Did I say thank you loud enough? Meng, great. So Meng, it is really a great, great pleasure to share the event of you. I was a big fan as you could tell by my review. It was a stunning debut. I am hoping that a year later the joy is still with you. How does it feel now that you have done it in hard cover but the paper back? It is quite a moment for you. Are you still aglow? » Well, it's been quite a year in between. Yeah, I think I have got a little bit of distance and perspective this year because of how nuts the world has been. I was reflecting on when the hard cover came out in January of last year and the president was getting impeached and it was very -- it was apparent because one of my interviews was -- one of my radio interviews was canceled because they were covering impeachment all day. Oh, gray great. It is almost like no time and all of the time in the year. » I have had friends come out and publish books on 9/11. » Yeah. » You will soon discover something is almost always happening in a funny kind of way it matters so much to you but the rest of the world barely notices. Since this is the writers workshop and people are so interested in process we should talk about our books. I think we should maybe -- maybe you could talk about your journey. I think a lot of people in the audience would like to be you. They are working on their first book and they are working on their first book and they have roots maybe in Asia as you and I do. Not everybody is from Shanghai, of course. But they have all made -- as you know, they are making 2 journeys. Often they are making one journey which is just from wow , I have a blank page to like wow, how do these books get written that is really long. In the beginning people go on to write like 7 books? It seems to I am probable. That is one journey which is just -- I bearly know what point of view is to a finished book. For people like you and me we have another journey. We have roots in another culture where the whole narrative thing, the whole novel tradition is not native. And we frequently -- there are probably 3 journeys. The journey often we have parents who often do not get this thing at all. Who really see this whole enterprise as May more individualistic than anything they would happen to them and their family. So this kind of has 3 things going on. Your journey was my journey at one point. I think interestingly I don't know how many years out my first book came out in '91. I have been at this for quite a while. I sat down to write in 1986 when Asian American novel did not exist. I can still remember my agent saying it is about people coming to America. It' s about -- the term immigrant novelist did not hope to mind. I wrote that book at a time when people believed Asian Americans could not write novels. Max even had meant the warrior to be a novel and forced to force it as a memoir . Asian Americans did not write novels. I wrote it at the bunting institute at Radcliff. I was asked every day aren't you writing immigrant auto biography. This was by educated people. Every day I had to say no, actually I am writing a novel. Actually I'm producing not artifact. It was another -- all of these things today happily people presumably don't say those things to you anymore. Today presumably people can accept that you are writing a novel. If you can talk about what it is like to enter this tradition or getting up the nerve to tell your parents that you were going to be a novelist, where you got this idea. We both went to Harvard, am I right? » I guess so, yes. I was actually her fighted of the English department at Harvard. It was in the most intimidating building with all of these deer heads on the wall. I don't know if you remember that. And I took like 2 English classes that were in the requirements. I studied basically everything else. I studied social studies and I did pre--med because I told my parents I have my plan B don't worry. I can always go back on my pre-med requirements » You will not be surprised to hear that I was also pre-med and pre-law. I dropped out of Stanford business school. This is very familiar too. This is part of the story. 3 of us from Harvard we were all about '77, '78. The 3 of us stood there and it was like a trifecta. I had dropped out of business school. the other one dropped out of law school and the other one dropped out of med school. And there we were. But anyway, this is a very familiar part of the story. Please say about what did it mean at the time that you were doing it. We're like the old school. » No, I think honestly everything I have said sounds familiar to me. I remember because I didn't really have a big humanities education or background I wasn't really encouraged to read when I was a kid, I remember when I decided after college I am really going to try to do this and went abou methodically making reading lists for myself Asian American reading lists. I remember discovering your work and the best short stories of the century and reading it and being like oh, my God this is not just like we are Chinese people drinking tea or we have so much tender immigrant feelings. It's funny. It's ambitious. It looks outside of just the Chinese American experience or the experience of immigration. You were really one of the writers that made me feel like okay, I don't necessarily have to, you know, produce the kind of work that people are expecting me to produce. I think I teach a little bit now . It feels like my students are not going through as much just as I am not going through as much of the you might be writing your own story. Surely you can only be expressing yourself not creating art. Surely you must be like creating testimony and not a work of art. I feel, yeah, when I started writing I felt like I did get a lot of feedback. It took me a long time in my writing workshops to get over the fact that all of my professors and most of my peers were white and that they were -- the parts of my writing that they liked were the more exotic Chinese parts. I literally had a teacher, I literally had a teacher who gave me feedback that was like do more of the Chinese stuff. It took me a while to understand how to sort of push back against that and to ignore it and to come to my own sense of what I wanted my writing to be. Because I think especially someone that doesn't come from a literary background, please, tell me what is good. A lot of writing, this book was learning to ignore what other people thought and learning to really listen to what it was inside me that wanted to create and wanted to write. » It is so interesting, I of course have the letter from the Paris review that literally the rejection letter says we prefer more exotic work. » Oh, wow. » It is right out there. Today they might hesitate to say that. But I think what you are describing and many people in the audience can also relate. I think they can see that there is a kind of salable commodity that everybody sees in you and you have to really resist. For me a lot of that meant I defined myself early as an American writer. Everybody wanted to be right about China China. I didn't want to -- I didn't want to become abdomen ambassador. There were a couple of roles for you. One is exotic. Being an ambassador of some sort. Another as things got more political and being a professional victim. I don't want to be a professional victim. I actually want to be a writer. And it is kind of this mine field when you are negotiating , negotiating. The very happy situation with you is that you made it through. I think that maybe one of the things that people might be interested to hear sounds like look you could hear I also heard myself in the end. I ignored all of those things just like you. I literally had a little ritual that I would enact before I started working where I would make a little icon of various people and various opinions in my mind a little icon. I would literally pick it up and put it in the trash. Or out in the hall. But I would basically -- there were a lot of these. They weren't all -- in other words some people who wrote opinions were not bad people. I removed the people with good opinions. John Updyke had a good opinion of me. No sooner did I realize what a good opinion he had of me did I have to put him in the hall. It was a happy thing but I am not here to write for John Updyke. I write for myself. If you are from an Asian background the business of writing for yourself this is a radical act . It doesn't come naturally to us for many, many reasons that we can discuss. As you know I have written a lot about that. It doesn't come naturally to us. So it is a fight the whole way. I have had this little ritual. I am wondering whether you had anything like that that you would be able to share with the audience? How did you find your way? This book is very striking. Very unlike any other Asian American novel. It doesn't feel like oh, she has been reading a lot Maxine Hunt Kingston. You kill the writers ahead of you. She said I heard that you wanted to kill me. Maxine is so sweet. But at some level what I really -- what really was I had to put her out in the hall. I am sure you had to put me out in the hall. You have to put everybody out in the hall.. I wonder how you did that whether you had rituals that you used, how you cleared the space for yourself so you could hear yourself so you could write this very singular book that is on one level very identifiablely Asian American around another way unlike any other Asian American or American novel. Where did you find that? How did you do that? >> I love what you said earlier. I loved hearing about you talking about you identified yourself as an American writer. I think I had a similar sorts of things that I would insist upon. One thing was always that if anyone ever said that I was writing about identity I would correct them and say I am writing about " the self". Because I felt that identity was something superficial that society imposed upon you and it is the self's way of responding to others view of us. I wanted - - I think I wanted from the start when I started writing I knew that I wanted to be able to write with the sort of freedom that I saw white guys writing with where I wasn't sort of bound to write about anything basically except for the things I wanted to write about. And I didn't -- I love your ritual. I wish I had something as cute to share. But I think mostly I just -- at a certain point my work I think started really growing and becoming itself when I realized that I hadn't read a book like the one I wanted to write and that was a good thing. And that I should be writing the book I wanted to read. So in my head I sort of -- I think there was a point in which I shifted my imaginary audience from whatever you imagine American readers or the general readership to be. I shifted that and I started writing for myself when I was younger basically. I started writing for the person who was reading and reading and trying to find the book that I craved to read and then realizing that that book didn't exist yet and I had to write it. So I think that was one of the sort of Montras that I had that you are writing the book that you want to read. That a version of yourself who basically has had the same experiences and has the same - - is interested in the same things, is delighted by the same things. Is moved by the same things, hasn't had the exact same ideas you have had. That really changed -- I think that really helped me and changed my work because I was no longer explaining myself as much as I was in my earlier work. » It's interesting. Another thing I don't know that will resonate with you. There are also books that talk about the freedom of the white male writer. There are books that are still in territory that is not out. That is not only because we are Asian America but also because we are women. So this business first of all my first book is called " typical American". How can those people be typical American. How can you be claiming to be the great American novel. How can you be doing that. Even now so many books in there is still territory that is not okay. In in case the baseball novel. Coincidentally I am not the only women. Emily did it at the same time. It is interesting. What you can sort of see is a journey I have been on, whatever, a generation and a half later you will go on the same journey. People will fill the same box. Why can't women write about baseball? With baseball being extremely important because it is the American sport. When women can't write about baseball you are there is a whole portion of America that is fenced off in some ways that is not yours. So it was kind of interesting that Emily Neamans felt this kind of restriction and also chose to write against it. Also did it as I did with the sense that boy territory and we knew -- we both had the sense you cannot get one detail wrong. It is dangerous. You understand that the audience is looking -- they are looking to find fault. They are looking to question your authority. This is a question for you. I don' t know if there is a point at which you realize that you have kind of -- there was something in the -- there was something out there that we need to get you. You realize they didn't get me. I know for me it was when I passed muster of any number of baseball biographers. When I passed muster with Jane Nolan and James Levy. They wrote and also with baseball fans. I put my book through the biggest baseball fans I could find. I know the moment -- and I passed. It almost didn' t matter what the reviews said . I knew that I had gotten in there and I actually don't know that much about baseball. I knew -- I learned a lot obviously. I did a lot of studying. I did a lot of research. Nobody said to me that's not how pictures feel or that is not how pitchers -- that's not how they act or that's not how the game goes, any of those things, nobody said any of that. Everybody said you must be a pitcher. I can't throw a ball from here across the room. » Neither can I. But I found all of the baseball so delightful. I learned so much about it. I was curious. I thought that surely you must have a deep love for baseball and that's why you wanted to write a baseball novel. But was there another reason? » I do have a -- funny, I don' t play baseball myself. I don 't know it. Neither of my children. Is Gwen your daughter? Neither of my children can catch or hit or any of those things. They don't throw. They read philosophy. They don't do any of those things. But it is true that my mother was an avid, avid Yankee fan as many immigrants are. When she first came to America this was one of the first ways she performed to be an American and learned what America was. This whole idea of the level playing field being from Shan ghai that is not an idea you grow up on. She became such an avid fan. She did die of COVID this spring. I know. » I'm so sorry. we did bury her with a Yankee's cap. She was really a fan. My brother could really pitch. Most of my siblings don't. But my brother could really throw. It was something he would not have discovered he could do. My father found a boy's club for him and turned out he had quite a little childhood formed by baseball. So I had some familiarity with it. Really it was more it was something I wanted to write about, about what I thought was happening to America as I was trying to think about how to drama ties dramatise what we could be losing and the danger to democracy and conveying that dramatically. I said of course baseball. So I have an emotional feeling about it but truly I hadn't thought about baseball in many, many years. My family are still Yankee fans. From Boston we are definitely not Yankee fans. I don't have the patience to watch all of those games and they are watching that every pitch. You know what I mean. I don't have the patience for any of that. So it really was -- » I am more interested in baseball now than when I started my book. Now that I know a little bit it it is really interesting. » You could really feel the tenderness in the way that you wrote about it. I was especially drawn to how you described the relationship between the catcher and the pitcher which I had no idea because I have not watched baseball. I am not really a baseball fan and how you use that in this brilliant character dynamic between 2 best friends. It was one of those things that made me think that you must know the sport deeply. It also made me realize that Andey was as exciting a character as Gwen » It is a little bit like the relationship between Ju wun. She is like the person that -- they are kind of related because each one is the person that wun hoped she could be. The other is the person she fears she could be. We could probably go on. I warned you, Lily, that we had a lot to talk about. We can go on very easily. We haven't scratched the surface. I can see you are here and it is time to take questions from the audience. I think the fact that -- I think honestly for somebody out there that is looking for a little paper to write there is a paper there. » Another thing that I noticed was reading your book that felt like a symbolotic relationship it is narrated from the perspective of a par parent about the child. I can 't think of another book that' s told from that point of view. That point of vow is just unbearable for me to read. Unbearably heartbreaking. I think a lot of times like my book obviously has a child looking at a parent. That's a more typical sort of gaze especially when we are talking about immigrants and the child looking backwards looking at the past and I guess it makes sense that your November Dystopian novel is looking into the future. The way a parent must feel growing up in a horrible world and want ing that child to have a bright future and wanting them to have freedom and wanting to protect them. » Well you got it. Lily is here and she is here to tell us to take questions. I will say that here you are. Your first book obviously many things -- many things to pioneer and very exciting and many new things to write. I will say that of course just the same way you write against things I write against the older writer. There is a sense you must be done because you wrote about the story being young growing up. Actually there are many, many other stories to be written. I feel so privileged to be an older writer who still has a few things to say and a few of view that is different. A point of view on the same experience. It is so familiar but oddly enough from where I sit it looks different. Anyway, Lily, I warned you we would have a lot to say. » I know. I feel like we could go on forever. I am so grateful. There is lot in the chat. I am grateful for the conversation. It is so vibrant and I am so glad to hear you speak. I think we have time for a few audience questions which I will read. If you have any questions you can put them in the Q&A box in Zoom and we will do our best. The first is from Rachel who writes Shanghai is an ever changing city. In what ways does it still feel like home? » It's funny, I think one point in your book it is all so Chinese. University like Meng I was born in America. I evenly knew about Shanghai from my mother. It really did feel like home. The things that people are pre-occupied with. I could really sense the difference between Shanghai and Beijing. Meng you have much more to say. There is a whole Shanghai way of thinking. » There definitely is. » Including what they think of other Chinese. » My family isn't old school Shanghai where my parents are migrated to Shanghai from the provinces. So Shanghai is not in our blood but maybe that means I can see it a little more. I have definitely been on the hardened of that Shanghai before on the receiving end. I haven't been back -- I haven 't been back in a really long time. I do think that there is just -- whenever I go back to Shanghai or any part of China that my family lives in, it just opens up a part of me that, you know, perhaps lives in my memory and doesn't really exhibit itself in American context. It makes me remember the language the smiles, everything that's coming in from the environment of a place that's just irreplaceable. It reminds me of a part of something that has made me. I think that's so much why I write, too, is just to capture those intangible and sort of inexpressible feelings that I always feel like I am on the verge of losing because a place is changing so quickly or because I am changing or because I am running away from it or going to a new place. Sny but Shanghai I will say that one small antidote. Back in the days in the very early days of development, many places in China if they took your credit card or they had just gotten credit card. They lanted your credit card always handed your credit card back with 2 hand. Shanghai, they were like here is your card. The shanghai attitude is back. » We're Shanghai. That's true. » They are not going to bow to you because you are an American. Excuse me. » In an apologetic way they look and appraise. Don't look I am looking at your entire outfit and I see you and I have judged you. » What is the matter with Americans ? Why do you dress like that? I mean they can't believe how we dress. If you have ever showed up in Birkenstocks in a Shanghai hotel you will know how broken we have from a fashion point of view. » Thank you both. I have a couple more questions. The next one it is which books do you consider the grandparents of your books? In other words what are the two or 3 books without which your books would not exist? » » Do you want to go first? » That is such a hard question. For me it is not 2 or 3 books. I want to say it does not have a narrative tradition that I'm sure that I would not be able to master the novel without Shakespeare. King Lear, 5 acts was foundational. I think Meng was talking about this freedom to say whatever it is you want to say. I have to say that I think I was very , very influenced by the Jewish writers and I will say that would include all of them . But especially maybe grace Paley. I think in terms of work that was both actually art but actually engaged. For me she was the mold. You could actually write stuff that was about society, very engaged and yet it ain't journalism. That is leaving out 100,000 books. » I love that. Yeah, if we had more time I would ask you about your humor and that sort of answers it a little bit. I love that and I love grace Paley too. For "Little Gods" in particular I would say there are I think 3ish books that really come to mind that very directly helped me. One of them was the neopolitan novel. I was very thrilled when you mentioned her in your review. Thank you, Gish. The way that she writes about social mobility and I think really there is not another writer who can see the nuisances of people who leave with more -- with more aquity. There is a book called "in the height of what we know" which is modeled. It is about a mathematician. Road ing that book gave me permission to 1, write in long paragraphs. And 2, write about science in a way that felt -- it gave me a model how to write about science in a way that felt beautiful not just sort of sort Bill Nye the science guy , science. The last book that influenced me was "a gesture life". The narrator in that book has such a circular way of thinking and such a sort of deflective way of thinking that I really used when I was writing the section in this book. » Thank you. I love those book recommendations. We have time for only one more unfortunately. There are so many good questions. We do need to wrap up in a moment. One last question from M who writes I would love to hear about what you are both working on next. Meng does " write the book you want to read" hold for your second book and does what you want to read change as you grow as a writer and reader? » Sure. Since there is a direct question for me I will go first. I think so. Yes, definitely what I want to read changes as I grow as a writer and a reader. I feel like I got out a lot out of my system with "Little Gods". I also feel that I put a lot into " Little Gods". Sort of what we were talking about earlier, Gish. There wasn't the expectation that I would be able to do it again. I sort of felt like it was my one shot and now I feel like it has -- because I have gotten this out of my system, I feel like I can play, I can have more fun. I am really interested in playing now more with style and with humor and with provication, with writing that is a little more out there stylisically and yeah. The next -- I'm working on a novel called "mothers and girls" which I am calling a fake memoir sort of as a tongue in cheek nod to our dear Maxine and her fake memoir and it's a book that is about building methodologies and tearing them down. » Sounds wonderful. I can't wait. So I just placed a new book so it will be out next year just about this time next February. I haven't talked about it very much. Now that is in editorial I can talk about it. It is a collection of linked stories. I am out having a great time. It is a little bit of a return. So this is a story -- it is linked as a collection of linked stories through which you can see the 50 years since the opening of China refacted through the various stories and various characters. It is called " thank you Mr. Nixon". Next February. » That's so exciting will. I hope we can celebrate both of these books. Gish, I hope we can celebrate that book in person next year. I want to thank you both for taking the time for joining us this evening.    

Jan 20

1 hr 2 min

In November 2020 we co-hosted a screening with Film Forum of the documentary AGGIE, on the life of philanthropist Agnes Gund, founder of the Art For Justice Fund. Following the screening, we co-hosted a talkback with activists and Art For Justice grantees Adnan Khan and Mahogany Browne, and producer Tanya Selvaratnam, moderated by Rachel Kuo. Today, we're thrilled to share audio of that conversation with you. This recording was originally shared on Film Forum's podcast 'Film Forum Presents' at https://filmforum.org/podcast.

Jan 13

1 hr 6 min

Author Kavita Das joins Jafreen Uddin, Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in conversation about her book, Poignant Song: The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar. Shankar, who was Grammy-nominated, was the most prominent Indian female musician in the movement that brought Indian music to the West in the late 1960’s. This event, co-presented by Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the South Asia Institute in Chicago, explores Shankar’s musical evolution and more-than-seventy-year career creating within both South and North Indian musical traditions, as well as pop and fusion, and celebrate her life, legacy, and impact on South Asian diasporic communities.

Jan 6

56 min 16 sec

We're launching a new virtual event series at AAWW. Presented quarterly, these virtual “fireside chats” will feature a renowned Asian diasporic author in conversation with our Executive Director Jafreen Uddin, sharing updates from AAWW, and discussing AAWW from a writer’s perspective. This series will kick off with a conversation led by R. O. Kwon, activist, NEA Fellow, and bestselling author of The Incendiaries.

Dec 2020

29 min 10 sec

This fall, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop is celebrating the art of the essay. Featuring longtime poets and fiction writers with debut essay collections out this year, this conversation will take an intersectional look at Asian American identity, genre, gender, race, publishing, and the way the essay form allows writers to dance, dodge, spar, and move through time and nature to tell important stories. Featuring Cathy Park Hong, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Sejal Shah, and moderated by Piyali Bhattacharya. Buy the writers' books via our local independent bookstore partner Books Are Magic: https://booksaremagic.net/racing

Dec 2020

1 hr 15 min

AAWW, Kundiman, & Kaya Press combine to bring acclaimed novelist Ed Lin together with pioneering YA author of FINDING MY VOICE and co-founder of AAWW Marie Myung-Ok Lee, in conversation to celebrate the release of Ed Lin’s YA debut, DAVID TUNG CAN’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND UNTIL HE GETS INTO AN IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE (Kaya Press, October 2020). Moderated by Ruth Minah Buchwald, Ed Lin and Marie Lee’s dialogue will orbit themes, such as: Asian American study culture; the pitfalls of the “model minority” myth and how to challenge it; multiple standards and (mis)representations of Asian Americans in literature and the media; and coming-of-age in the Asian American diaspora while navigating relationships through race, class, young love, not to mention the confusing expectations of immigrant parental pressure.   Support the writers! Buy their books via their publishers' websites: https://kaya.com/books/david-tung-cant-have-a-girlfriend-until-he-gets-into-an-ivy-league-college/ https://sohopress.com/books/finding-my-voice/ Live Transcript: Neela Banerjee: Hi everyone! My name is Neelanjana Banerjee. I'm so excited to invite you all to our event tonight! This is also the launch event for Ed's YA novel, David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College published by Kaya Press. I'm the managing editor for Kaya Press and we're so excited to publish this next month. I'm also excited to be collaborating with two other organizations on this presentation. Kundiman is dedicated to nurturing Asian-American writers and readers of all ages. Their programs include a mentorship lab, food writing workshops, and more. I've been noticing all of these organizations have pivoted gracefully during the pandemic. We're excited people have been able to tune in from across the country today. This is also part of the Brooklyn Book Festival's Bookends event. I wanted to call out the copy of David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College, which has a shiny cover. I'm really excited, please check out this book if you can on the Kaya Press website. There's links to buy this book and other books in the chat. We'll hear excerpts from Marie Myung-ok Lee and Ed Lin tonight. Then we'll have a conversation with Ruth Minah Buchwald and the authors. David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College comes out October 28th and you can preorder it today as well as get some swag. You can also order Marie's book that will be rereleased this year as well. Let me introduce our speakers tonight. Marie Myung-ok Lee was born in South Korea and was raised in South New Jersey. She lives in Brookline. She is the author of Finding My Voice, Necessary Roughness, and Saying Goodbye. Her books have won a number of awards. She has been a judge for the National Book Awards and she was one of the first American journalists welcomed into North Korea. Ed Lin is an all around stand up kind of guy. His published books include a mystery series set in Taipei and various others. I'll be back after the readings with a few more announcements, enjoy! Marie Myung-ok Lee: Hi everyone. Thanks Neela, for that great introduction. I'm so happy to be here with some of my favorite people and organizations. Thank you to all of you as well as Ruth for moderating and congratulations to Ed on his book. What's fun for me is my novel, which I'm going to be reading from -- Finding My Voice -- is actually almost as old as the Asian American Writers' Workshop. It's gone out of print, but I'll be reading a bit from my new old book. It's pretty much being republished the same way it was more than 20 years ago. It's considered to be the first contemporary Asian-set YA novel. I'm going to read a little bit from the beginning from Chapter 1 and a little bit from Chapter 2. [Reading excerpt.] ““Moooo!” It is still dark when I reach to shut off the Holstein-shaped alarm clock that my best friend, Jessie, gave me for my sixteenth birthday. To shut it off, you have to pull down on the cow’s enormous plastic udder. Mom wanted to throw it out. I told her it was just humor, Jessie-style. I step into the steamy shower and let the warmth coax me awake. I shampoo, shave my legs, and let the conditioner sit in my hair for exactly five minutes, just as it says on the bottle. After toweling off, I put on deodorant, foot powder, perfume, and then begin applying wine-colored eyeliner under my lashes. Do boys have to go through all this trouble day in and day out?? How about Tomper Sandel, the football player who appears to be naturally cute with his shaggy blond hair and cleft chin—does he worry about how he smells? I put on extra eye shadow in a semicircle around my top eyelid. According to Glamour magazine, this will give Oriental eyes a look of depth. I’ve always known that I don’t have the neat crease at the top of my lid—like my friends do— that tells you exactly where the eye shadow should stop. So every day I have to paint in that crease, but I don’t think I’m fooling anybody. “Hurry up, Ellen,” Mom calls from downstairs. I throw on my new Ocean Pacific T-shirt and jeans and run down. Mom is standing in the kitchen, quietly spreading peanut butter on whole wheat bread. She turns to look at me, and her eyebrows dip into a slight frown. “Is that what you’re wearing to school?” “Yes, Mom,” I say. We go through this scene every year. “What about all those good clothes we bought in Minneapolis?” “Those dresses are great,” I say. “But no one wears a dress on the first day of school.” “Oh,” Mom says, as if she’s not convinced. She turns to finish packing my lunch. As usual, Father has already left for the hospital so he can get an early start on patients with morning-empty, surgery-ready stomachs. “Goodbye, Myong-Ok. It’s your last year here,” she says. I look up at her upon hearing my Korean name. To me, it doesn’t sound like my name, but to Mom, I think it means something special. Sometimes I think she has so much more to say to me, but it gets lost, partly because of the gap separating Korean and English, and partly because of some other kind of gap that has always existed between me and my parents.” Here's just a little bit from chapter 2. “It is dinnertime at the Sung household, and although she’s absent, the presence of my sister still dominates. “She was very disciplined,” Father says as he begins slurping his Korean soup. “Even when she was getting all As she still studied hard because she knew that being at the top of her class in a public school like Arkin wouldn’t guarantee her getting into Harvard.” I tense my back against my chair. What good will it do for everyone to keep parading all of Michelle’s accomplishments in front of me? Today in calculus class, Mr. Carlson, the teacher, delightedly shambled over when he saw me. “How’s Michelle doing?” was the first thing that popped out of his mouth. “Boy, she was a whiz at math,” was the second. I sat there wondering if he knew what my name was. I look down at my lasagna. Its tomatoey, garlicky smell mingles with the smell of seaweed from Father’s soup. Since Mom has always cooked something Korean for Father and something American” for her, Michelle, and me, the smells are always clashing, usually ending up in weird, cloying odors. “How was school today?” Mom asks. “Okay. Not much new,” I say, although there’s so much I want to say, that I wish I could say, that I can’t. I mentally close my eyes and envision a different conversation. “A boy called me a ‘chink’ on the bus today,” I would say. Mom’s mouth would open. Father’s chopsticks would drop, sinking unnoticed into the murky depths of his soup. “You poor thing,” Mom would say. “What did you do?” “I totally ignored him,” I would answer confidently. “How terrible to have to go through that,” Father would say, and he’d take off his thick spectacles so that for once I could see the tenderness in his eyes. “With all this stress I think Ellen should worry less about grades and more about having a fun senior year and making friends,” Mom would add. “I agree,” Father would say, and he’d resume slurping his soup. Slurp, slurp.” Thank you for listening. Ed Lin: Thank you so much, Marie, for reading that. You know, I'm an east coast kind of guy. I've always lived in New York/New Jersey/the Tri-state area. The midwest has always been kind of an exotic place to me. When I went there, I felt like I had to eat like a cheese contest at every meal to fit in. I'm going to read a little bit from David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College. I don't have the really pretty, shiny copy that Neela has, I only have this ugly, uncorrected proof. One thing you should know is that there's mention of Harmony Health, which is a hospital internship that David Tung has applied to. Even though he's been told he can't have a girlfriend or date, he is forced to have to ask his mother for help in renting a tux. He's planning on going to this dance. Okay, here we go. [Reading from book.] My heart was pounding in fear when my mother picked me up as usual at the bus stop. I was full-on terrified to lay out all my plans in full, which I needed to do to even have a shot at her giving me the tux money. “How was school?” she asked. “Fine,” I said. I saw her mouth twitch. She was suspicious when she didn’t hear grades. “No tests or quizzes?” “No, nothing today.” “What about Harmony Health?” “Still nothing.” Whenever I didn’t have a clear marker of success to report to her, she liked to go fishing for a deficiency. “When are you going to hear?” “Soon, I think.” We rode in silence a little bit. I couldn’t tell if she was in a good or a bad mood, but figured I could go fishing, too. “Mom?” “Yes?” “Do you think every Saturday night is going to be busy at Tung’s Garden?” She actually laughed. “Hope so! Don’t you hope so, too, David?” “Yeah, I guess.” I couldn’t muster the courage to bring up the dance. Once we got to the restaurant, I went into work mode. Every time I thought I was going to get a break for a few minutes, another task presented itself. Soon the night was almost over. We were cleaning up. It was now or never. I’d already decided there was no way I was going to tell my mother about the dance once we got home. She’d said numerous times that when she gets home, she just wants to sleep. Plus, here at the restaurant, there was always the chance I could rally up some backup support from Auntie Zhang or my dad. At the very least, my mother would think twice before really lashing into me, if it came to that. My newly found level of social acceptance—and the potential for a real-life girlfriend—was riding on being able to go to the dance. I could be as cool at Shark Beach High as I was at the Chinese school in Chinatown! But in order for that to happen, I needed to go to Nordstrom. This week. There was no way to put it off any longer. “Mom!” I said hoarsely. She was stapling receipts near the cash register. “Yes?” “Can you help me rent a tuxedo?” “Tuxedo? What for?” “I want to go to a school dance.” She put down the stapler and curled her hands into fists. “You want to go to a dance?” My shoulders involuntarily shrugged out of fear. “A girl asked me to go, and I said yes.” “A girl!” said my mother, like a TV detective announcing she’d found the murder weapon. I heard my father moving somewhere behind me, possibly taking shelter. “Who’s this girl?” “Christina Tau.” My mother flared her nostrils. “Is she your secret girlfriend, David?” “No,” I said. “I don’t have a girlfriend much less a secret girlfriend.” “‘Tau,’ she said venomously, “It sounds like a Cantonese name.” My mother sometimes expressed distaste for Cantonese people for no explicable reason. “How many times have I told you? You’re not allowed to have a girlfriend until college! And you’d better get into an Ivy League school!” It was the end of yet another long day of work, but my mother didn’t seem tired at all. She was as mad as I’ve ever seen her. “You’ve said that enough times,” I said. I looked around for some silent show of support. Auntie Zhang’s English wasn’t great, but she could probably understand what was happening. Yet she was diligently wiping down a tabletop, her head bent. My father suddenly found that something in the kitchen required him. After a brief pause, my mother was on me again. “You’re not even number one, are you?” She pointed at my nose. “All the way down at number eight! You spend too much time thinking about girls!” That was a complete lie. It angered me into a fatal mistake: talking back to my mother while she was still fired up. “I spend too much time working at this restaurant!” I protested. “You know how long I work here? How long your father works here? You want to run around with girls while we’re spending day and night here making money so we can live?” Oh no! Don’t let her start talking about money when she’s this angry. “Okay, look,” I said, attempting to calm her down. “It’s just one dance. It’s not a big deal. Christina’s parents are Chinese, too, and they think it’s OK.” But there was no calm eye to this storm. “They’re not your parents! And that’s not my child!” “Why can’t you understand?” “No! You don’t understand!” Actually, I truly didn’t. “A lot of kids are going.” “Not you, David!” my mother thundered. “You tell this girl you don’t want a girlfriend! And you don’t want to talk to her anymore!” “I already told her I would go,” I said. “Tell her you can’t! You’re in school, and school is for learning, not for girls!” She closed her lips and wiped her front teeth with her tongue, considering something. “Give me your phone, David!” “What!” “Give me your phone! I don’t want you talking and sexting with this girl!” “I’m not sexting with her, Mom!” “Who knows what you’re doing!” I handed over my phone and half a second later it was zipped up in her purse. Nothing ever escaped from there. Not even light.   Thank you so much. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Thank you both so much. Thank you for speaking with me. I love your contributions to the canon so much. AAWW is the first place I ever interned at a few years ago. It feels extra special to represent and work with people who have been continuously kind and generous to me. Thank you to Lily, Rob, and Neela for arranging this. I'm excited to be part of the commencement event for Ed's book tour. Ed, since this is your YA debut, I wanted you to talk about the transition from writing for adults to young people, if that even was a conscious choice. Ed Lin: I never really have an audience in mind when I'm writing. I just write to me. In the course of writing about Chinatown mysteries, and then moving on to Taiwan, I was in the research of looking at the history of Chinatown, and I started to question my own family's personal history. That led to Taiwan, of course. My father is from a long line of Taiwanese settlers. There have been waves of people who have emigrated from China to Taiwan over millennia. His family came over when the Ming Dynasty collapsed. In the course of all that research and making things more personal, I thought about the YA books that were out there. I feel like none of them really spoke to the terror that I had, being in high school and being really, really scared that my grades weren't good enough, my SAT score wasn't high enough, etc. to achieve. A lot of second-generation Asian Americans are proxies for their parents, battling with other relatives and friends. They only got so far, but my kid is going to beat your kid, and he's a piano player going to Harvard, going to play for the Knicks undrafted, etc. All these books are really for me. I guess when I'm thinking about writing for a younger me, I had fewer reservations and really, really wanted to push things, because I was being squeezed so hard in this box. It wasn't like, how was your day? It was like, show me your grade, and then I'll tell you how your day was. It's about the push for a certain demographic for Asian Americans with everything reduced to a grade. It's kind of anti-learning. You think about how to get the best GPA, instead of taking something in and learning it. You're unable to think about what you enjoy learning about, and your favorite subjects. It's been said when Asian Americans hit college, they're usually a double major, or major and minor. One is for their parents, and one is for them. I was engineering and literature/writing. I was one class short of the literature/writing degree and didn't finish. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Talking about being squeezed out of a box, both of your books, David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College and Finding My Voice, the literature landscape was different. I want to know both your thoughts on the current mainstream of novels that highlight the Asian American youth stories. What are your thoughts? Marie Myung-ok Lee: I've always had librarians that say, “all the boys love your book, but they don't want a girl on the cover.” This is so welcome. As I mentioned, my book went in and out of print so many times. I grew up in a really small town in Minnesota. My town was so small, it didn't have a Nordstrom. I just grew up in a very small mining town. I never had any Asian American books. I read a lot of Judy Blume, adult books like Thomas Hardy, etc. S.E. Hinton was a favorite. But I didn't have anything to aspire to, which is what made it so difficult. I dropped out of pre-med, my parents were Korean War refugees. They couldn't conceive of wanting to be a writer. I majored in econ, and was going to work in finance. I was planning to take some writing, really cool religious studies classes, and other things I liked. When I was working at Goldman and trying to make money, I still didn't know how you get published, or how anything works. When I wrote Finding My Voice, I didn't even know it was a YA book. I would get the weirdest replies from people. My big break, the reason I majored in econ, I had a plan that I was going to live in New York. I had to have a job that paid a lot of money. Then my boyfriend, who's now my husband, worked at a publishing company. We got to go to all these publishing things for free. Judy Blume was at a gala. I showed her my book. To my utter surprise, she said yes! The world's craziest story, I sent her some of it. She really liked it. Her agent didn't like it as much, but they sent it to another agent. Even after that, it got rejected by 22 publishers. The last publisher was Houghton Mifflin. My agent said, if it's not this one, we're done. They'd already held onto it for months. My money had run out and I was freelancing for different investment things. Then I got this call. They wanted the book! That was kind of the super improbable way my career started. It was so close to having never started, that I can't forget my gratitude for everybody who helped. I had someone who sent it to all these people and academics. I'm ecstatic the book is coming out again. I'm writing YA again, which I haven't done since 1996. I'm excited. Ruth Minah Buchwald: What about you, Ed? These Asian-American young people stories? Ed Lin: It certainly seems to be a lot of it. I grew up as a punk rock kid. I'm really into subversive kinds of things. As there are more Asian Pacific-American things, it's kind of becoming mainstream, like when Hüsker Dü signed with Warner Brothers. I'm showing my age but it was a really big deal. The punk rock ethos is something you hold onto. Not making it a career and money kind of thing. The drummer actually wrote a letter to the scene about how they didn't sell out and they wanted better distribution so the fans could get it. One of the things Malcom X pointed to was the American's perceptions of its Black population being rooted in it's perception of Africa as well. You needed to unite the diaspora with the motherland in a sort of way. I have to say, when Parasite won the academy award for best film, it was like, "yes!" for us. Seeing Asians flood the stage to accept the award was awesome. I hope I answered your question. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Yeah, for sure. I have a question about channelling that time in your life, which I think every immigrant child can relate to, of basically balancing and living two lives. Growing up in a household that abides by the culture they're from and the norm in their schools. Also, in David Tung's case, another life of running away to New York and his punk rock moment. I'm just kind of wondering about balancing those things. Marie Myung-ok Lee: I think one of the things that was great about being in the Writers' Workshop, I was a co-founder but I joined really early on too, it was not only us all being ex-pre Med or ex-engineer. Actually, I think Ed was the only ex-engineer. There was a talk about what was worse, coming out or coming out as a writer. I think within the solidarity, our own appreciation of our crazy parents and the stuff they did so we could get to this point and have these different jobs or being writers -- I was the only person who had a book contract when we started the Writers' Workshop. It was all of us finding our voice. It was us trying to find our way as writers. I'll back up a little bit. Amy Tan was kind of the omnipresent writer that every White person responded to at that time. She had that dominance -- and I'm not saying she is or her writing is bad -- but we all sort of felt repressed by it. Almost all of us at some point had someone say something like "why don't you write more like Amy Tan?" We wanted to write whatever we wanted to write. Maybe even stuff without Asians in it. Frankly, it was a lot of work to get the workshop going. We're all finally published, but we probably all lost at least a book with all the work we put into the workshop. We're all still really good friends. I feel like the metaphor of trying to love your parents and honor them but also do your own thing is kind of the metaphor we had at the workshop. We fought a lot, but we laughed a lot. To a degree, like Ed was saying the pride of seeing Parasite, it's kind of the same like seeing all the YA. It doesn't have to be one person anymore, we want all of these voices. That's making me so happy. Ed Lin: Yeah, the early days of the Writers' Workshop were incredible. It was legitimately a workshop. But Curtis got that journal published, getting anything published anywhere was a leg up, considering the outlets available back then. You think there aren't a lot of BIPOC editors now? Think about back then! Marie Myung-ok Lee: There was an anthology that came out and none of us were in it! [Laughter.] There is a kind of weird punk aesthetic even though we were all nerdy. There was no Asian-American bookstore, we had what we called the largest Asian-American bookstore in the nation. We were the only one, so we were definitely the largest. Ed Lin: Do you remember the summer of '92, we went to Atlantic City? Marie Myung-ok Lee: I wasn't on that trip. The caravan? Ed Lin: Oh! We went into a casino, how do you not? On the third quarter Curtis put into the slot machine, it just paid off. Like two buckets of quarters came out! It was like wow! It filled up and he had to throw another bucket under there. It just represented the bounty coming in for paying our dues early on. [Laughter.] Curtis, by the way, is a filmmaker now. He's done incredible documentaries. The first was called Vincent Who, which is about the memory of Vincent Chin and how everything has been forgotten, even after a documentary was made. The second is called Tested. It's the one determination that you take in order to get into the special schools in the New York City system. Fantastic films. Marie Myung-ok Lee: They are. You'll laugh, actually, I'm in a new writers' group with him. It's all Asian-Americans. We do it on Zoom, we just can't help ourselves! He does have a wonderful memoir we just read and it's going to be wonderful when it comes out. Ed Lin: Awesome. He's like David Tung, his family had a restaurant. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Exactly. The book reminded me a lot of your book. I read a little of your book so I wouldn't get the two mixed up. We just read the manuscript. Ed Lin: Growing up, we didn't have a restaurant, we had a hotel. That was a 24 hour business. Someone always had to be watching the office. At a pretty early age, I must have been around 12, I would watch the office on the weekends from around 9 to about 2-3 in the morning. I got to see all of the early Saturday Night Lives and the Twilight Zone. I remember the early skits were insane and wonderful. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Were you just by yourself? No child labor laws? Ed Lin: If there were child labor laws enforced, so many Asian-American businesses would be shut down! You walk into any Asian-American mom-and-pop shop and there's always a kid there standing there with a 50 yard stare. Ruth Minah Buchwald: I love hearing all of these stories. When we were doing a tech rehearsal, I loved hearing Marie's stories. Shifting from living two lives, a big part of both of your books is about Asian-American study culture. I'm wondering now as parents and also writers reflecting on those times, college admission competition, all of the things of immigrant parent expectations, I'm wondering how that's evolved? Going back to that time and writing about the pressures of that. Marie Myung-ok Lee: I think what was different for me than Ed is we lived in an all White area. We didn't have the competition. That's what I really liked about your book, the side-eyeing competition. Then also sort of in a lot of YA books, the rich handsome person is generally the good person. But you have this universe of Asian-Americans and the cut throatness of that culture. We lived in a town where 60% of people didn't go to college. Those that did went to state schools. My dad went to the Harvard of Korea. You could bribe your way in or do different extracurriculars. Did you take the test and pass? It was a meritocracy my dad had. All of my friends would be taking typing and my dad insisted on German. That was the only language we had. My friends got to go see Jaws and I had to write a book report. You see all of that crazy dialogue, when you're younger you think your parents are crazy. I just wanted to go out and go to a party like a normal kid. As a parent, exactly. I kind of see "wow" and I feel lucky. I teach at Columbia and I see how professional all of these kids are and all the things they did to get in. I probably wouldn't get in today. My father's passed away now, but I appreciate what he did. This was going to be the way his kids were going to succeed. I know that because when my parents first came here, they were in Jim Crow Alabama. I know that affected them very deeply. They didn't let us do anything Asian, we couldn't speak or eat Korean. I know that came from a place of love and them wanting us to succeed. I have more of a loving look at it and recalling it to write about it in these novels is about how horrible it is. You're a kid and you're already different and not allowed to be like the other kids. I think that's a lot of what's at the core of Asian-American YA. It's hard. Even if it comes from a place of love, it's difficult. Ed Lin: I was born in New York City but we moved to New Jersey when I was like 3. I grew up in this friendlyish racism. A few towns we lived in had maybe 10% Asian, and there were enough people of Chinese descent to actually have a Chinese school. But the places I've lived in the longest didn't really. I went from this environment of sort of friendly-ish racism, to a really small town in Pennsylvania. That was straight-up racism. I remember I took a wrong turn once on this mountain road. I was in front of this house that had a lynched gorilla costume in the front yard. I was like, man, I've got to get out of this town. From freshman year to senior year, there was a 40-45% dropout rate. Very few people went on to 4-year colleges after that. I remember, my first days at the school in Pennsylvania, there were of course the racist kids, but there was also a local Klan chapter. So-and-so's dad is the editor of the newsletter! I went from this environment and I was like, OK. When I get to college, I'm totally going to be in this Asian American group and we'll be fighting racism. I got into Columbia. During orientation, I was like this hick coming in talking about fighting racism. All these other kids who came from very prosperous backgrounds, they had fake IDs to get into clubs and everything. I actually took a bit from that experience, and high school, for David Tung. There are now towns that are majority Asian. There's a town that's 60% Korean. Ruth Minah Buchwald: I'm from there. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Nice! Ed Lin: You can get the food so easily! But also, it's like everybody knows each other's business. The neighbor down the block probably knows what you got on your biology quiz. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Yeah, it was very much like that. For my last question, what I love about both of these novels, they're driven by the first person perspective, and written by very powerful, smart, quippy young voices. What is it like for you to reflect, coming from strong voices for your stories, back when you had something you just wrote, the Workshop, etc.? Marie Myung-ok Lee: That was a good time, writing for no reason. The best thing about the workshop, we did it for no reason. To your question, I'm so happy you asked this. I love telling the story, when I did have the agent and she was striking out everywhere, this very famous editor said, OK. I'm kind of interested in this book. But the first person present tense is very amateurish. You need to write it in third person past tense. I was like, oh my gosh, he's so famous. I tried to rewrite it in third person past tense. I majored in econ, so I didn't really understand about voice. But I did understand, I wanted this book to help the reader understand what it's like to be called chink. There was no way to do that in third person past tense. I'm not saying there's a magic formula, but at the same time, I'm saying that the book is the book I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it, despite the very strong feeling that this white editor had for how it should be. Like Ed was saying earlier, you've got to do what you're going to do. Now 20 years later, I'm so happy for this book. If I would have done that even, I don't know if I would still love it as much. But that's how I came to that voice. When I looked at it more critically, that's the voice I wanted. Thank you so much for asking that. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Of course! Ed Lin: I'm like you, Marie. I don't have an MFA. I only took some writing classes as an undergrad. I consider the Writer's Workshop to be an MFA-ish experience in a way. I remember early ‘90s, reading these books about how to write, and I was just like, wow. This is really not working! It's like picking a tabs book and trying to play the "Stairway to Heaven" solo. Writing is a unique instrument. You've got to learn to play it well. If it doesn't go to people who are higher up, that's fine. Most people don't read books. You might as well appear to them. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Thank you so much. Now we have some questions from the audience. The first one, what prompted you to write for and about Asian American youth? Thank you so much for doing so. This is so exciting, I didn't have anything like this growing up. It's amazing to hear these readings. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Go! Ed Lin: OK. Viet Nguyen has said that every war is fought twice. I'm still fighting my Asian American childhood, in a fictional kind of sense. Part of me is still stuck there, honestly. It's OK. We have different strata to our experiences. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Your book is super funny, by the way. I think humor is very underrated as a literary quality. My answer is very simple. I wanted to have an Asian American book so bad growing up, so I just had to write it. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Question 2, both of you wrote books about the Asian American experience in the U.S. I'm interested in how you came up with the titles for your novels. Marie Myung-ok Lee: David Tung is the best title! Who came up with that? Ed Lin: I came up with it. I was like, it's about this and this and this. It can't be The Long Run or something like that. There aren't a lot of Asian American titles that are like, bleh! Everyone is concerned about how they'll come off, and their appearance. Look at me. I'm a guy who's like, throw the pizza against the wall. That's it. Marie Myung-ok Lee: The title tells you what you need to know, basically. I agree. There's always that super literary book with a really long title. We should have one like that. I came up with Finding My Voice, it was originally going to be called after a postcard. But I think I wanted it to be more emotional to the heart of what the book was about. Ed Lin: Doesn't Parkin Min [sp?] sound Korean? Marie Myung-ok Lee: No. My friend Cheryl Strayed is from a town nearby. I'll just change one letter. I think I put Akin and put an R in it. Ed Lin: This is wild. I've known Hayley since the 90s as well. Shout out to Hayley! Ruth Minah Buchwald: Our next question is for Ed. We've discussed the ways that Asian Americans tend to be put in certain social boxes. In a similar way, genre fiction operates through fixed conventions. But your books work through and against such conventions. How can we "punk" genre? Thanks so much everyone for your time. I also love this question! Ed Lin: Because of the pandemic, we can no longer have conventions. I encourage everyone to ditch them. The publishing industry naturally is not going to publish a book they think will lose money. They want to reduce the odds as much as possible. By having comparable books that you can sort of glom onto, it makes a book more publishable as opposed to something being more original. But I urge everyone to not only write more original, but support work out there that's more original as well. Drive that wedge and widen it a little bit. What else can I say? Listen to more punk rock! Check out Soul Glo out of Philadelphia. They're one of the best new bands out there. They're on Bandcamp. Today's Friday, and Bandcamp has suspended taking royalties. Everything goes to the band today. Ruth Minah Buchwald: What advice would you give aspiring Asian American writers trying to break into the industry? Marie Myung-ok Lee: Write! Ruth Minah Buchwald: Great, yeah! This question, I'm curious if Ed and Marie can speak to craft challenges they found when writing their books and characters. Marie Myung-ok Lee: You should go, Ed. I already talked about my voice problem. Ed Lin: Let's see. It's true that there is a slant to YA being geared towards girls and young female protagonists and writers as well. I remember reading the Sherman Alexie YA book, Half Indian... Ruth Minah Buchwald: That title is also great. Ed Lin: For me, that was really striking, too. When you're a boy growing into your young-manhood, there's always a physicality to it. Not fighting, but banging up against people and stuff. You take your bruises. So what are you supposed to learn from David Tung? I don't know if you can learn anything apart from you're not alone and a lot of people are going through what you're going through no matter how alone and lost you feel. There's at least someone or more than someone going through exactly what you're going through. I would also like to point out that I love this alternative hip hop artist called Ohyung. Give a listen and support on Bandcamp. Ruth Minah Buchwald: Then we have a question, how long did it take each of you to get your first book published? Marie Myung-ok Lee: Mine was ten years. Ed Lin: I don't know, what's the starting point? The first day you started writing or the first day you started getting an agent or when they started sending it out? Ruth Minah Buchwald: I don't know, I guess from writing or finishing the final draft. Ed Lin: It's often said it's not the writer's first book that's the published one. That's true for me. I have a horrible book on a floppy disc somewhere. I think I reached page 70. I was like if it's this painful to write it, how hard is it going to be to read this thing? I printed out the whole thing and put it in a drawer somewhere. My cousin is somewhat like me, he grew up working in his family's hotel, he killed himself. It spurred me to look at my own early childhood growing up at the hotel. I wrote this book called Waylaid in about seven months. That book was my first published book. That was actually published by Kaya Press because I went to a workshop called How To Get Your Book Published. I showed her my book and printed it out, mailed it to her, then I get it back in the mail. I'm going through the pages and it's like bleeding. There's comments, slashes throughout, I groaned. I was feeling all the pain. I shoved it in a drawer. She called me a few weeks later and was like, "what do you think?" I was like what do I think, you hated it? She told me they loved it and wanted to publish it. Going back to the person asking about breaking into writing, have a thick skin. Don't take things personally. It might feel like someone's trying to attack you, but they're really trying to help you. Aside from that person who told you to write in the third person. People are going to try to help you. Marie Myung-ok Lee: That's a good point. I have at least two manuscripts I know will never be published. But I did have to complete them. I knew I couldn't go to the next one. With Finding My Voice I had to do anything for it, including telling an editor no. But if it's awful to write, it's going to be awful to read. I have an 800 page manuscript about this awful publisher and I thought it was so funny. I read it again and was like this is never going to make it. But that's what it's all about, learning your own taste, knowing when something's good and when something's bad. Oh, I also wrote one about the Gold Rush that was so bad. A publisher was interested in it but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. It needed editing. I was starting to write more adult fiction and I was dropping out of the YA mindset. To the person who asked about a craft thing, now that I write adult, the interesting thing is I was not allowed -- in my book about guys -- to use swear words. I was like how can I not use swear words when I'm spending time in a locker room and it's all slurs and swear words? The point was the library marketing person said if I did this, it wouldn't get into the kids hands. So I came up with a compromise which was making up my own swear words. It feels silly, but I didn't have to worry about censors and things like that. It's not really a craft thing, but there are certain genre conventions that come up against your artistic ideas. When you're going to get published, you have to decide what you'll be compromising on. I'd rather have the book in people's hands than have the swear words. It's a weird time. It is a business. They have to sell the books so they can stay in business. There has to be a semblance of sellability. They're not gatekeepers, they want to keep selling our stuff and you need them to do that. There's art and there's commerce. Ruth Minah Buchwald: The next question comes from Daisy, how do you deal with writing about things that are close to home? Daisy is writing a memoir currently. Marie Myung-ok Lee: I thought my dad would hate my book, it was kind of autobiographical. Someone said first books are always autobiographical because the writer has things they have to get off their chest. I thought my dad would hate it because it seemed like he was the cold, callous dad. He wrote me a note and was like when are you going to write another book? I've read this one three times. You might think they'll hate it but they love it. I think you need to write it and then figure out how to deal with your parents or whoever you're writing about. Ed Lin: My mother said my third book was the first one that didn't shame the family. Marie Myung-ok Lee: [Laughter.] Ouch! Okay. But they never said like stop writing or don't publish this? Ed Lin: It was more like, "don't start writing." "When you're a doctor, you can write at night." Marie Myung-ok Lee: That's what my parents said! Ed Lin: Yeah, I'll want to do this after a whole day as a doctor. Marie Myung-ok Lee: My dad gave me a list of doctors who were also writers! Ed Lin: Because he was a doctor he fell into that trap, what a hack! Ruth Minah Buchwald: This next question is from Timothy, they're asking if there are sequels being planned for your books. Ed Lin: No, this is it. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Are you going to write more YA though? Ed Lin: Uh . . . maybe. Maybe not. It depends. Marie Myung-ok Lee: But you're totally closing the door on that? Ed Lin: Well . . . I would never close the door on anything, except my foot. Marie Myung-ok Lee: I will say, there is already a sequel -- Saying Goodbye -- to Finding My Voice. So many people were asking, "what happened to Ellen, what happened to Ellen?!" I was like alright, alright. It's still in print. Ruth Minah Buchwald: I'll make sure to buy everyone's books tonight. Last question for the night, who are you reading right now and what writers do you recommend? Ed Lin: Let's see. I'm only going to talk about writers who are dead. I'm friends with so many writers, I can't name some and leave some out. I really enjoyed the books by James T. Farrell. I think I've read like eight of his books already. I find them all fantastic. He was this Irish-American guy who grew up in Chicago. He deals with race and different socioeconomic groups that is so real. Not surprisingly, he was a long-time communist. But he's not running for president or anything. _ I've also really enjoyed this book called Book of Swindles, published by Columbia University Press. It's translations of Ming Dynasty tales of people being ripped off. In Ming Dynasty China, if you were robbed or fooled by somebody, your neighbors wouldn't be coming out to help or comfort you. They'd laugh at how stupid you were. Marie Myung-ok Lee: That's lovely. I read non-fiction and fiction at the same time. Fiction, I'm reading this really great novel by a Korean-American writer, I think her name is Nancy Jooyoun Kim. That book has some of the best descriptions of food. Koreans are super into eating, I'm immensely enjoying that. My friend Justin Taylor is writing a memoir about his dad and America. It's so beautifully done and brainy, I highly recommend it. It's called Riding with the Ghost. Ed Lin: Speaking of ghosts, did you know I lived in a haunted house in the middle of Pennsylvania? My parents bought this farm house as an investment. My parents bought it and made me live there the summer before going to college. It was a huge property, it had half a mountain. It was built in the early 1800s. It had a dirt basement, the stairs were worn down and hand hewn, there was an outhouse, I had to shove coal in the heater to have hot water. Who's the guy from Flying Burrito Brothers? He had that song called We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning. I was totally doing that, otherwise you couldn't burn more coal. There was a ghost in this house. It was just me and the stuff in my room. The snoring sound would come out from the bedroom across the hallway 2-3 nights a week. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Did you ever see anything? Was it an old White farmer? Ed Lin: I never saw them. I got the feeling it was an old farmhand or something. In the morning, I would hear a rooster crow in the distance and the snoring would stop. It wasn't a mean presence or anything, it was something resting. If I had heard like, "get out!" I would have been out of there so fast. It was just snoring, catching up on sleep. Ruth Minah Buchwald: I like how it turned Halloween themed for the ending. Thank you so much! This was fun to moderate. Marie Myung-ok Lee: Thanks, Ruth! Ed Lin: Thank you, Ruth! Thank you, Neela! Neela Banerjee: Thank you guys so much. A big round of applause from all our watchers out there. Thank you all for joining in. We dropped the pre-order link in the chat a few times. David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College. We'll send you some shiny stickers as well from the Kaya website. Can you show us your shirt, Ed? A lot of people saw it and liked it. Ed Lin: It's a great shirt. Neela Banerjee: Ed will have a lot more events to promote the novel with all sorts of different writers around the country. The next one is coming October 30 with Word Out Bookstore. Follow Kaya Press on social media, and pre-order Marie's book, which is coming out December, the reissue. Is there anything new in the reissue? Marie Myung-ok Lee: I did write an afterword, because some of the language was a little antiquated. A lot of people wanted me to change it, with social media, cell phones, etc. I was like, you know what? This is a period piece. This is a historical piece of a particular time when people still said Oriental. She doesn't need to have a cell phone. Ed Lin: You can't get reception at the abandoned mine anyway! Marie Myung-ok Lee: Yeah! Neela Banerjee: Definitely check out both these books. Tell everybody to check these out. A big thank you, of course, to the Asian American Writer's Workshop. A big thank you to Kundiman. They just announced a feminist writer's workshop you can sign up for. Thank you guys so much! Marie Myung-ok Lee: Thank you for spending time with us! Bye! Ed Lin: Thank you! Oh, this is going to be on YouTube later!

Dec 2020

1 hr 17 min

We're celebrating the launch of Kazim Ali’s newest poetry collection, The Voice of Sheila Chandra. Following a reading from Ali’s innovative and musical new collection, he will be joined in conversation by Sheila Chandra and Rajiv Mohabir to discuss sound, silence, and embodied art-making practice, as they reflect on Ali’s poetry, Chandra’s music, and Mohabir’s poetry and translation.  Support the writers! Buy their books via our local independent bookstore partner Books Are Magic

Nov 2020

1 hr 9 min

We’re very excited to bring you an audio long read of “Shithole Country Clubs” an essay by Nina Sharma, recently published in The Margins. Named an Editor’s Pick at Longreads, “Shithole Country Clubs” is a hilarious and critical essay about Trump's New Jersey country club — the very golf club where he recently infected everyone with Covid-19 — and Indian weddings.  READ the original essay here in The Margins:  https://aaww.org/shithole-country-clubs/

Nov 2020

43 min 2 sec

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to celebrate the launch of Akwaeke Emezi’s new book THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI and the recent release of Elizabeth Acevedo’s CLAP WHEN YOU LAND and WRITE YOURSELF A LANTERN: A JOURNAL INSPIRED BY THE POET X. The two authors read from their new works and have a moderated conversation with writer and Berkeley Center for New Media Events Coordinator Sophia Hussain.

Nov 2020

1 hr 5 min

Tina Chang and Mira Jacob join the Asian American Writers’ Workshop to celebrate the paperback releases of their books Hybrida and Good Talk. Following a reading from their work, they will speak to the intersections of their experiences and creative practices, discussing race, motherhood, and hybrid storytelling structures.

Oct 2020

1 hr 7 min

On this episode we are excited to repost a recent episode of Asian Americana, a podcast about Asian American culture and history hosted and produced by Quincy Surasmith.  Letters for Black Lives is an ongoing crowdsourced effort to create and translate multilingual and culturally-aware resources that open a space for families and communities to have honest discussion about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness. Quincy took part in a series for publication on AAWW's online magazine The Margins that collected process notes from several translator-contributors to the Letters for Black Lives to make visible some of the complexity of this project. You can check out these translator notes now at aaww.org. In this episode of Asian Americana, Quincy follows a similar drive to explore the layers of linguistic and cultural nuance involved in this effort. Through interviews with some of the initial Letters for Black Lives organizers and translators, his conversations bring out the collective process and questions involved in navigating the urgency and sensitivity of the Letters for Black Lives. 

Oct 2020

1 hr 8 min

AAWW hosted the launch for K-Ming Chang’s debut novel, Bestiary, with a reading and conversation with K-Ming and Franny Choi. Exploring the ways writing about girlhood can reinvent our definitions of community and lineage, and the ways we can grapple with and imagine beyond threats of violence that often shape daughterhood, this conversation delves into family and queer girlhood as a generative space of resistance and reinvention, monstrousness and memory.

Oct 2020

1 hr 12 min

Welcome to our Love Letter to Chinatown Episode! We’re happy to feature Mei Lum, Diane Wong, and Huiying B. Chan, the curators of Homeward Bound: Global Intimacies in Converging Chinatowns, hosted at the Pao Arts Center in Boston. The exhibit tells the stories of displacement, migration, resilience and grassroots organizing in Chinatowns around the world through photography, found objects, oral histories, and poetry.  Writer and organizer Huiying B. Chan travelled to Chinatowns in eight different countries, as well as their ancestors’ village, documenting global stories of migration and resilience across the diaspora. That same year, artist and scholar Diane Wong and Mei Lum, the fifth generation owner of Wing on Wo and the director of the Chinatown community arts org the WOW Project, went on a West Coast Solidarity tour to connect with tenants, organizers, workers, and artists in Chinatowns in San Francisco, LA, Vancouver, and Seattle.  We talk about how the formation of Chinatowns across the world, how the pandemic is affecting Chinatowns, and make important connections between gentrification in immigrant communities across the US. Visit the exhibit virtually here: hhttps://bcnc.net/events/homeward-bound-exhibition

Aug 2020

1 hr 8 min

Today is the legendary activist Yuri Kochiyama’s birthday! We’re celebrating by revisiting one of our favorite episodes of AAWW Radio, You Don’t Say No to Yuri Kochiyama.    In 2005, scholar and activist Diane C. Fujino released the biography Heartbeat of Struggle: the Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. An in-depth examination of Kochiyama's life, the book follows her early years in a concentration camp in Arkansas during World War II, to her friendship with Malcolm X in New York City, and her years of radical political activism.    We hosted an event celebrating the release of this text in November 2005. Co-sponsored by the NYU A/P/A Institute, the event was curated by activist and musician Fred Ho. Fred Ho invited activists and political organizers Baba Herman Ferguson, Esperanza Martell, and Laura Whitehorn, all of whom had known and worked with Yuri over the years years, to discuss and celebrate her legacy. You’ll hear about how Yuri’s Harlem apartment was a social hub for activists in the 60s, the tireless work she did with the Jericho Movement to liberate political prisoners, fight for Puerto Rican independence, her prolific note taking, and more. Finally, Diane. C. Fujino will share the story of Yuri’s political awakening, and how she transformed from a budding activist to a symbol of revolutionary change.

May 2020

1 hr 19 min

One of our favorite episodes of AAWW Radio was from 2018 featuring Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice author Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in conversation with poet Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, author of SLINGSHOT. Leah reads from her work and together they discuss meaningful inclusion of disability justice, Intersectional disability, and the nuances and multitudes of the disability experiences. Watch the full event on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UpQVlT2wCQ

May 2020

1 hr 29 min

We’re bringing back one of our favorite events from 2018 called Breaking Caste, featuring Sujatha Gidla, Neel Mukherjee, and Gaiutra Bahadur. The episode features a wonderful conversation at the end about Dalit exclusion in the publishing industry, the connection between caste and women’s oppression, Dalit solidarity with Black Americans, and much more. Neel Mukherjee's novel A State of Freedom follows the lives of five characters born to different circumstances in India navigating deeply entrenched class and caste divisions. Dalit-author Sujatha Gidla wrote the debut memoir Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India. Link to the video of this event on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIgKFl8Dpf8 This event was cosponsored by Equality Labs.

May 2020

1 hr 17 min

One of our favorite episodes is this reading and conversation from 2018 with brilliant experimental Asian American writers Anelise Chen, Patty Yumi Cottrell, and Eugene Lim. They read passages from their novels So Many Olympic Exertions, Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, and Dear Cyborgs, all of which have unique perceptions on living and surviving in this difficult world. Following their readings they have an insightful and honest conversation with poet Lisa Chen about protest, immigrant narratives, and writing voice in fiction. Watch the reading on our YouTube channel

Apr 2020

1 hr 23 min

Now that we’ve published over 50 episodes of AAWW Radio, we’re selecting a few of our favorites to republish for our new listeners. One of our earliest episodes is Migrant Father Fragment from 2017 featuring authors lê thị diễm thúy, Q.M. Zhang, and moderated by Hua Hsu. It features wonderful readings of their books The Gangster We Are All Looking For and Accomplice to Memory and an incisive conversation about their writing process and putting memories to paper. Q.M. Zhang and lê thị diễm thúy, writers of fragmented, hybridic, family narratives explore themes of immigration, grief, and the father with The New Yorker’s Hua Hsu. A hybrid memoir/novel that’s part espionage, part historical documentary, Q.M. Zhang’s Accomplice to Memory tells the story of her father’s mysterious exodus from China during the country’s Civil War and WWII: all the silence and love that you’ve come to know from your Asian immigrant family, but with added subterfuge and geopolitics. Guggenheim Fellow lê thị diễm thúy, whose recent Asian American classic, The Gangster We Are All Looking For, tells the collage-like, semi-autobiographical story of a refugee family that immigrates to San Diego, leaving behind a stark past of war and liberation in Vietnam. Watch the video for Migrant Father Fragment here. 

Apr 2020

1 hr 42 min

This episode is the second episode of our podcast series diving back into our 2016 Publishing Conference, which we held at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn. The panel we’re sharing this week is titled “Breaking into Speculative Fiction”, featuring Jennifer Marie Brissett, author of the novel Elysium, and the upcoming 2020 novel Destroyer of Light, and Malka Older, author of the Centenal Cycle trilogy, which includes the novels Infomacracy, Null States, and State Tectonics. And last year Malka Older published the serial story Ninth Step Station. Their conversation on speculative fiction will be moderated by speculative fiction editor Tim O'Connell.  Remember this audio is from 2016, so some parts of the conversation are interesting to hear in retrospect, like when they talk about the “upcoming 2016 election” !  

Apr 2020

50 min 18 sec

In this episode of AAWW Radio, we’re time traveling through our archive, bringing you panel discussions from our 2016 Publishing Conference, which we held at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn. The first panel we’re sharing this week is titled “What I Wish I Knew Before I Got My MFA”, featuring Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill and who received her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop-- Karim Dimechkie, author of Lifted by the Great Nothing and who received his MFA at the Michener Center, and Kaitlyn Greenidge, who received her MFA from Hunter College and is the author of the novel We Love You Charlie Freeman. Together they speak on their MFA experiences in a conversation moderated by Brooklyn Rail Editor Joseph Salvatore, who is the author of the short story collection To Assume a Pleasing Shape. Keep in mind this audio is from 2016, but we find the conversation is still very relevant, and hopefully people on their MFA journey can find this helpful!

Apr 2020

37 min 13 sec

Since our last episode from October on poetry and disappearance in occupied Kashmir, a lot has happened. We've gotten through a long leadership transition and turned our focus inward, to care for AAWW. And earlier this year, we joyfully welcomed our new executive director, Jafreen Uddin. Our staff is currently working from home. We know that it is the strength of our communities that keeps us resilient to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic and confront this difficult time. We also understand that the backbone of AAWW’s work is creating community through our in-person events. And so we're back on AAWW Radio, ready to beam you our audio events at this surreal moment. We know it’s not the same, but we’re hoping it’ll help you through this time of isolation. Starting next week, we'll kick things off by reaching back into our archive, bringing you panel discussions from our 2016 Publishing Conference. We’ll hear from Kaitlin Greenidge, Jenny Zhang, Alice Sola Kim and a bunch of other established writers as they discuss topics like deciding on whether to do an MFA, finding your writing community, breaking into Speculative Fiction, and working in the publishing world.  Then, for those of you who are new to our podcast and haven’t listened through our past 50 episodes, we’ll be picking a few of our personal favorites to republish for listening. And beyond that, we’re brainstorming ideas for new original formats for future episodes! If you have any suggestions for us or have any feedback, feel free to reach out and email us at radio@aaww.org . We hope everyone is staying safe, social distancing to protect those at risk, and helping each other out. See you next week.

Mar 2020

2 min 2 sec

How do you simultaneously disappear people and their hope? Can you keep that hope alive through writing? On this episode of AAWW Radio, we dive into the current blackout of Indian-occupied Kashmir, the history of enforced disappearances that haunts Kashmiris, and how political writing and poetry, like the work of poet Agha Shahid Ali, connects the Kashmiri diaspora to their home. We hear from several people at the forefront of Kashmiri diasporic literature and activism: Ather Zia, Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at University of Northern Colorado Greeley and author of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women's Activism in Kashmir, as well as Hafsa Kanjwal, Professor of South Asian History at Lafayette College and an organizer with Stand With Kashmir. We also hear beautiful readings of Agha Shahid Ali's poetry by his sister Sameetah Agha, Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute.   Learn more about Kashmir's history and why the ongoing struggle for self-determination and liberation is just as critical today as it was more than 70 years ago. Stand With Kashmir has compiled resources on their website. Here's a snapshot of where to begin: Ten non-fiction and fiction books to read about Kashmir  13 films to watch on Kashmir The Kashmir Syllabus: this list of material for teaching and learning about Kashmir foregrounds voices, histories, and aspirations of people from and within Kashmir. Wande Magazine, an online magazine of longform writing run by young Kashmiris:  Ather Zia’s ethnography Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women's Activism in Kashmir (2019) which was discussed in the podcast and follows mothers and "half-widows" as they step boldly into courts, military camps, and morgues in search of their disappeared kin. Ather Zia’s and Javaid Iqbal Bhat’s A Desolation Called Peace: Voices from Kashmir (2019) about the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir and the change in their perceptions since Independence. Kashmir Lit, an online journal of Kashmiri & Diasporic Writing   For more of Agha Shahid Ali's poetry: Agha Shahid Ali’s collection Rooms are Never Finished (2001), a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, excavates the devastation wrought upon Kashmir and the personal devastation of losing his mother Agha Shahid Ali’s The Country without a Post office, which takes its impetus from the 1990 Kashmiri uprising against India, which led to political violence and closed all the country’s post offices for seven months    How can you help? Here is how you can help stand in solidarity with Kashmiris at this critical juncture:  https://www.standwithkashmir.org/stand-in-solidarity  

Oct 2019

55 min 14 sec

Today marks the 18th anniversary of 9/11. We're bringing back our episode from April 9th, 2018 called Remixing Guantanamo Bay where former AAWW Executive Director Ken Chen interviews experimental poet Philip Metres. Philip Metres is the author of Sand Opera, the poetry collection that uses redacted texts from Department of Defense manuals for torture sites like Guantanamo Bay to create an aria for the victims of the War on Terror. Solmaz Sharif writes, “Philip Metres’s poetry collection Sand Opera is complex, an untamable polyvocal array of clipped narratives in post-9/11 (if we are to believe such historical markers) America.”  It’s a great conversation diving deep into Metres’ research of the confined and tortured people at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and the influence of these documents in response to violence as a poet.   Also: Sorry for the delay on regular episodes, we're working on a couple of other things at the moment (including an original podcast episode!) Hope you are all well and thank you for listening. - R.O.R., AAWW AV Producer

Sep 2019

29 min 35 sec

Listen to writers Sahar Muradi, T Kira Madden, and Tina Chang  read works about mothers and motherhood. Sahar Muradi shares poems about mental health during pregnancy, T Kira Madden reads a scene from her memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, in which her mother tends to her daughter’s lice-infested head, and Tina Chang read from her latest collection Hybrida. AAWW Margins Fellows Pik-Shuen Fung and Jen Lue moderate a Q&A with the writers, who speak about their literary mothers, motherhood and multiplicity, and intergenerational healing. This reading is in collaboration with the W.O.W. Project at Wing on Wo, where Pik-Shuen and Jen curate and host their Womxn Writers Series. Learn more about Wing on Wo's W.O.W. Project here.

Aug 2019

1 hr 22 min

AAWW’s online magazine Open City documents metropolitan Asian America on the streets of New York City. Every year we grant two fellowships, the Neighborhoods fellowship and the Muslim Communities fellowship, to six writers to cover Asian American & Muslim American communities in New York City. We celebrated the end of our last cohort of Open City Fellows last month with a reading.  Writers Mohamad Saleh, Maryam Mir, Syma Mohammed, Hannah Bae, Astha Rajvanshi, and Nora Salem read from pieces that you can find on Open City: on racial tensions in Bay Ridge, a Syrian baker in Brooklyn passionate for baking Baklava; a personal essay on childhood trauma and foster care as an Asian American, and much more. Afterwards, former Open City fellow Humera Afridi held a Q&A with the fellows on translation in reporting, how writing about immigrant communities has shaped their ideas of home, and how sharing your work in community with others improves your writing craft. Sweet Refuge Video: https://youtu.be/6YKiwx6U2HU

Jul 2019

1 hr 26 min

Is language adequate to describe the harsh reality of incarceration? Which words are used too often, too lazily, not often enough? We’ll hear from four people who are writers, journalists, and professors, approaching these subjects surrounding incarceration from different angles; Sarah Wang, Aviva Stahl, Nicole R. Fleetwood, Madhu Kaza. They read and talk with AAWW's Prisons Editor Daniel A. Gross about the evolving language of 2019 and the way it shapes lives, going in-depth on subjects such as how bureaucratic prison language invalidates and harms trans people, the stigma of a murder conviction, how to use alternative language to subvert carceral language, and much more. Watch the whole event (especially if you're curious about Nicole Fleetwood's slideshow) on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9IhmEa46TQ

Jun 2019

1 hr 29 min

We hosted a reading and conversation with novelist Esmé Weijun Wang, author of the New York Times-bestselling new essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias. She was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and has won a Whiting Award. The Collected Schizophrenias, which won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, is, as NPR writes, “riveting, honest, and courageously allows for complexities in the reality of what living with illness is like.” After reading from her work, Esmé has a conversation with Larissa Pham, writer and author of the novella Fantasian. Together they discuss how to write vulnerably while maintaining boundaries, little things we can do for each other when our friends and family are going through difficult times, and much more.

Jun 2019

1 hr

For Asian American poets, what is the relationship between bearing witness to history and giving voice to marginalized communities? At the 2019 AWP Conference and Bookfair held in Portland in March, AAWW hosted a panel titled Poets vs. Community vs. History, moderated by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello with E.J. Koh, Yanyi, Emily Jungmin Yoon, & Monica Sok. These multidisciplinary writers talk about how their work as poets, editors, translators, and scholars allows them to uncover intimacies among seemingly disparate colonial histories, and contextualize narratives of intergenerational trauma. They draw on their varied practices to explore how the individual pursuits of poets can build empathy and community.   E.J. Koh is the author of A Lesser Love, awarded the Pleiades Editors Prize, and her memoir The Magical Language of Others. Koh has accepted fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell Colony, and elsewhere. Yanyi is a poet and critic. The recipient of fellowships from Poets House and Asian American Writers' Workshop, his debut collection The Year of Blue Water was recently released in March. He serves as associate editor at Foundry. Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species and Ordinary Misfortunes, winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize. A PhD student at the University of Chicago, she is the poetry editor for the Asian American Writers' Workshop. Monica Sok is the author of Year Zero. Her work has been recognized with a 2018 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, and NEA among others. She is a 2018–2020 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox, winner of the Donald Hall Poetry Prize and a Florida Book Award Bronze Medal. She has received fellowships from Kundiman and the American Literary Translators Association, and serves as a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair.

May 2019

1 hr 12 min

In March, we co-presented a series of conversations with DVAN, the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network. For this podcast we’ll be listening to an introduction by DVAN founder and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer Viet Than Nguyen. Following this is a conversation around the concept of Vietnamese ghost stories moderated by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis and featuring authors Violet Kupersmith, Thanhha Lai, & Vu Tran. The order they’re listed here is the same order they answer the first question. Together, they dissect the concept of the ghost story, as a metaphor for the immigrant, a reflection of the self and one’s deepest fears and insecurities, and then broaden the conversation to talk about community and what a Vietnamese diasporic literary community looks like to them. Violet Kupersmith is the author of The Frangipani Hotel, a collection of supernatural short stories about the legacy of the Vietnam War. She is writing a forthcoming novel about ghosts and American expats in modern-day Saigon. Thanhha Lai is the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Inside Out & Back Again and the novel Listen, Slowly.  Her third novel, Butterfly Yellow, will be published this fall. Vu Tran is the author of Dragonfish, which was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and an NEA Fellowship. Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis is curator of Asian Pacific American Studies at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. He is also founding Director of the Washington, DC-based arts nonprofit The Asian American Literary Review. Co-sponsored by the APA Institute at NYU.

May 2019

33 min 50 sec

We're featuring audio from a 2017 event collaboration with the Tenement Museum. We celebrated the launch of author Min Jin Lee’s second novel Pachinko, which was a New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and National Book Award Finalist. Pachinko follows one Korean family through generations. The story begins in Korea in the early 1900s and then moves to Japan. The family endures harsh discrimination, catastrophe, and poverty. They also encounter joy as they rise to meet the challenges their new home presents. Through desperate struggle and hard-won triumph, they are bound together by deep roots that are set as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity. Min Jin Lee reads from her novel and then is interviewed by Ken Chen, the executive director of the Asian American Writers Workshop. They discuss her extensive research and interview process, how growing up in Queens, New York helped her write Pachinko, and much more. Watch the full event on our YouTube channel, as well as our other past events.

Mar 2019

1 hr 16 min

Gina Apostol’s latest work of fiction, Insurrecto, is a tour de force about about the Philippines’ past and present told through rivaling scripts from an American filmmaker and her Filipino translator. The book was one of the New York Times’ Editor’s Choices for 2018 and won comparisons to Nabokov and Borges for its kaleidoscopic structure. With her trademark wit, uncommon humor, layering of forgotten histories and dueling narratives, Gina tells the story of the atrocities that faced Filipinos who rose up against their colonizers during the Philippine-American war at the turn of the 20th century. Gina Apostol reads from Insurrecto and then is joined by Filipina-Australian writer Sabina Murray, author of the novel Valiant Gentlemen. Together they discuss weaving together nonlinear narratives, the uselessness of white guilt, Duterte reprising the role of the American colonizer in the Philippines through violence, and much more. Featuring the songs Ang Lupa ang Dahilan & Agit Speech by Material Support, a Filipina-fronted agit punk band from New York City, agitated by state repression, government corruption, and patriarchy. Watch the event on our YouTube Channel!

Feb 2019

1 hr 26 min

In 2017, we hosted novelists Kamila Shamsie and Hirsh Sawhney, both writers who released new novels about South Asian families fractured in the diaspora. Kamila Shamsie’s novel Home Fire takes Sophocles’s classic tragedy Antigone as the starting point for her novel about political tensions in the War on Terror and the way it impacts Muslim families in the West. Hirsh Sawhney’s debut novel South Haven illustrates how grief complicates and splinters intimacy in an Indian-American family. The two authors read from their work, and talk with journalist Rozina Ali about power structures, American Empire in literature, the collective grief following Partition in 1947, the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, as well as speak to America’s complicity in the formation of ISIS, and debunk myths on the War on Terror. The authors also do a deep dive on craft, and discuss authenticity and the responsible imagination; as well as how to control (and not control) when your audience misreads your writing.

Feb 2019

1 hr 13 min

We're featuring writers Rahul Mehta and SJ Sindu who read from debut novels No Other World and Marriage of a Thousand Lies featuring complex queer South Asian characters. They have a conversation with writer and Shoreline Review editor Sreshtha Sen about writing transnational narratives, how cultural trauma affects what we write, and resisting the common coming out story. How do you come out to family members whose language you don’t speak?

Jan 2019

1 hr 15 min

We’re reaching back over a decade into our archives to 2005, when Diane C. Fujino released Yuri Kochiyama's biography Heartbeat of Struggle. To celebrate the book's release, activist and saxophonist Fred Ho invited Yuri's friends & contemporaries Baba Herman Ferguson, Esperanza Martell, & Laura Whitehorn to our space to speak on Yuri Kochiyama's legacy as a radical Asian American political activist. Afterwards Diane C. Fujino talks about Yuri Kochiyama's political awakening from her early years in a concentration camp in Arkansas during World War II, to her friendship with Malcolm X in New York City, and her years after as a tireless advocate for political prisoners and countless struggles around the world. Cosponsored by the NYU A/P/A/ Institute

Jan 2019

1 hr 20 min

How is resistance possible when reality itself is obscured? In an era of "fake news" and more facts than anyone could hope to grasp, authoritarians rely on this uncertainty to consolidate their hold on power. This episode we're featuring audio from our 2017 event Speaking Truth to Power. Legendary journalist Raissa Robles joins us from the Philippines to share her work, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, which reappraises the era of Marcos and applies it lessons to what is unfolding today. Former AAWW Open City Fellow and journalist Raad Rahman will share her research on state repression in Bangladesh, from the Rohingya refugees fleeing attacks in Myanmar to the persecution of LGBTQ Bangladeshis, and writer and translator Tenzin Dickie will discuss writing and translating work about Tibetans navigating the ongoing Chinese occupation. Following the readings will be a Q&A moderated by Jeremy Tiang, acclaimed translator and author of State of Emergency, the award winning novel that traces leftist movements throughout Singapore’s history. Together they discuss the rise in authoritarianism as a symmetrical reaction to colonialism, and the importance of remembering the past -- with help from a few key books and resources.

Dec 2018

1 hr 26 min