Last night I headed out to Naperville, Illinois, a suburb 25 miles from home, to attend novelist Janice YK Lee’s reading at Anderson’s Bookshop. Her new book, The Expatriates (Viking, 2016), sounds fabulous. It’s about a group of female expats in Hong Kong. Say no more, right?
I read her first book, The Piano Teacher (Penguin, 2009), also set in Hong Kong and really enjoyed it. The Expatriates just came out this week and is next on my list.
The reading was great fun. Janice talked about her writing career and how each of her books has taken five years to write. She also spoke about her MFA program, writing residencies, and juggling writing with raising four kids. Even though I haven’t read her new book, I could resonate with the passage she read at the end. One of the characters is repatriating and so much of what Janice wrote applied to me when I left Hong Kong. You think people back home will be fascinated by your life abroad, but frankly no one cares.
After the reading, she invited a group of us out for sushi, so we continued the expat-themed discussion over dinner. We had been expats in Asia, mostly in Hong Kong. Although I didn’t live a typical expat life (if there is such a thing), I realized last night that it’s quite unusual to meet others in my area who have been expats in Hong Kong.
Before I left the bookstore, I bought a few signed copies for friends. One knows about it, but the other two don’t–yet. I hope they’ll enjoy it as much as I know I will. Check back here next week for a review!