On Wednesday night I met celebrated author Xu Xi for dinner in Chicago. She’s in town for the AWP conference (Association of Writing Programs). I’ve worked with Xu Xi before, as a contributing writer for her anthology, Fifty-Fifty: New Hong Kong Writing (Haven Books, 2008) and when she helped me edit an early draft of my memoir.
But this was the first time we’d met.
The AWP is stationed at the historic Chicago Hilton, which I know well. My brother was married there, my parents held my rehearsal dinner there, and I used to belong to the gym there.
When I thought about where to take 1) a well-known author and 2) someone from Hong Kong, perhaps the best food city in the world, I knew Chinese food was definitely out!
So I chose Mercat a la Planxa, a lively tapas restaurant housed in the historic Blackstone Hotel.
After staying home all week, it was nice to get out, talk about books and Hong Kong, and finally meeting the person who gave me my first break in creative non-fiction.
Earlier that day, I read that Leap Day was also “take a writer out to dinner day.” How auspicious.
Xu Xi’s latest work is Access (Signal 8 Press, 2011), a spell-binding collection of short stories that span the globe.
And her last novel, Habit of a Foreign Sky (Haven Books, 2010) was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.