I’ve attended two great literary events in Chicago the past two nights. It’s like I was at a mini literary fest of authors who write about Asia.
Tonight I heard Rachel DeWoskin speak at Women and Children First Bookstore. I’ve read her three books and have wanted to meet her since first picking up Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton, 2005) years ago. So it was quite exciting to finally get that chance tonight.
We spoke about China, mostly my experience, but also how we both wished we’d known more about Chinese-Western relationships before we embarked on them. She inscribed my copy of Foreign Babes with a nice note of encouragement in regards to my writing.
This is her new novel, from which she read tonight.
And last night I attended another engaging reading by Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation (Riverhead, 2010). Jean stopped by the Book Stall in suburban Chicago while on her US tour. She now lives in Holland with her husband and two sons.
She presented a fun slide show of her family during her childhood. The Kwoks left Hong Kong when Jean was 5 to immigrate to the US. Once settled in New York, Jean and her family toiled in Chinatown sweatshops. She escaped that life by super-achieving in school and attending Harvard (and later Columbia for her MFA).
Girl in Translation is based on Jean’s (and her brother Kwan’s) childhood(s), but she wanted to write fiction so she could add a romantic touch to her story.
When I introduced myself to Jean as a Facebook friend and fan, she gave me a hug and spent the next ten minutes chatting with me about my writing, just as Rachel DeWoskin did tonight.
I can’t wait until June, when I’ll attend a few more literary readings, a couple with authors who’ve also written about Chinese culture.