Is Chinatown a ghetto, an enclave, an opportunity, an obligation? If it was home once, is it always? Jean Kwok's new novel, Mambo in Chinatown, tells the story of a young woman hitting the ballroom scene while holding onto her family and the neighborhood she knows. She celebrates its release with a reading at AAWW. Annie Ling will open with a narrated slideshow of her photographs, offering a visual portrait of the spaces of Chinatown inhabited by Kwok's characters.
Jean Kwok immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn when she was five and worked in a Chinatown clothing factory for much of her childhood. In between her MFA in fiction at Columbia and undergraduate studies at Harvard, she worked for three years as a professional ballroom dancer for Fred Astaire Studios in New York City. Her debut novel Girl in Translation, about a gifted immigrant girl who lives a double life between school and sweatshop, was a New York Times bestseller and has been assigned in universities, colleges and high schools across the world.
Born in Taipei, Annie Ling is a Canadian artist and documentary photographer currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Annie’s debut solo exhibition at the Museum of Chinese in America, A Floating Population, featured over eighty images spanning four years of work. Her work has been featured in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, GEO Magazine (Germany), Courrier International (France), Fader Magazine, and New York Magazine. She was recently awarded the New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA) fellowship for photography.
See examples of her work in The New York Times here. Image above from Annie Ling's Floating Population series.
Read our Open City interview with Jean Kwok on ballroom dancing, and check out Ashok Kondabolu's backyard hangout with Annie Ling.