North Korea is often represented as an unknowable space: a militarized space with few computers, no Internet, and a government mouthpiece that reports almost no news. Join us with two award-winning authors who seek to imagine and tell stories from the so-called Hermit Kingdom: Krys Lee, whose new novel is one of the most anticipated books of 2016 (The Millions) and National Book Award-nominated journalist Barbara Demick. The event will be moderated by former AAWW Open City Fellow Sukjong Hong.
In Krys Lee’s new novel How I Became a North Korean (Viking 2016), the three main characters must struggle to survive together when they find themselves in a small Chinese town just across the river from North Korea: Youngju, a student from a prominent North Korean family; Jangmi, a smuggler who’s had to fend for herself since childhood; and Danny, a Chinese American teenager from California. In the words of Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author: “Lee forges a world no other writer could create, one where the only response to longing and loss is learning to trust and hope again.” An assistant professor at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea, Krys previously read at AAWW for her short story collection Drifting House. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and a finalist for the BBC International Story Prize.
Barbara Demick is the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Spiegel & Grau/Random House 2009), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle and winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize. To research the book, Demick interviewed about a hundred defectors and honed in on the lives of six North Korean citizens in Chongjin. The book spans a fifteen year period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. As the Telegraph writes, “the stories it recounts are moving and disturbing, and it surely tells us far more about real North Korean lives than a fleeting tourist visit to the Stalinist-kitsch theme park that is Pyongyang.” The former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, she is also the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood (Andrews & McMeel, 1996).
Sukjong Hong is a researcher and reporter for The New Republic. She was a 2014 commissioned artist with the Laundromat Project, a 2014 Guardian Diversity Writers Workshop participant, and a 2012-2013 Open City Magazine creative non-fiction fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Gothamist, Triple Canopy Magazine, and Racialicious. Read her talking about Gangnam Style and income inequality in Open City--and read her other Open City pieces here.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Korean Research.
$5 suggested donation
Open to the public
RESERVE A SEAT!..
Come through for our second installment of Process Talks—a salon-style multimedia show-n-tell, where innovative poets and novelists will screen the images that have been haunting their writing and discuss their writing process. We’re featuring award-winning poets Victoria Chang and Andrew Lam (both joining us for a rare visit from out of town), and emerging poets Monica Ong Reed and Eugenia Leigh. For a sneak peak, check out Victoria and Eugenia’s poems in AAWW’s The Margins.
Victoria Chang’s third book of poems, The Boss (McSweeney 2013) won a PEN Center Literary Award and a California Book Award. Her second book, Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press 2008) took its title from a noxious weed to explore corporate greed, infidelity and desire, and historical atrocities, including the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China and the massacre of Chinese people in Nanking by Japanese troops in World War II. Her first book, Circle (Southern Illinois University Press 2005), won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition Award. She also edited an anthology, Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (University of Illinois Press 2004). She also wrote the New York Times Notable children’s picture books Is Mommy? (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster 2015), illustrated by Caldecott winner, Marla Frazee.
Andrew Lam is the author of the PEN Open Book Award-winning essay collection Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora (Heyday 2005), which Audrey Magazine said described “the full spectrum of the Vietnamese immigrant experience... from memories of idyllic childhood in Saigon to his family's painful post-war exile in America.” His second book, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres (Heyday 2010) reflects on Andrew’s “own family's escape from Vietnam in 1975, the east vs. west cultural differences in raising children, and the narrative potency of Manga” (Publishers Weekly). His short story collection Birds of Paradise Lost (Red Hen 2013)--a finalist for the California Book Award--explores the Vietnamese diaspora in San Francisco. Born in South Vietnam and leaving during the fall of Saigon, Andrew’s life story was explored in the PBS documentary My Journey Home. He is currently the web editor of New America Media and a regular contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
Eugenia Leigh is the author of Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows (Four Way Books 2015), the winner of the 2015 Debut-litzer Prize in Poetry. as well as a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Indiana Review, The Collagist, North American Review, and the Best New Poets 2010 anthology. Eugenia received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was awarded the Thomas Lux Scholarship for her dedication to teaching, demonstrated through her writing workshops with incarcerated youths and with Brooklyn High School students. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from Poets & Writers Magazine, Kundiman, The Frost Place, Rattle, and the Asian American Literary Review.
Monica Ong is the author of the debut poetry collection Silent Anatomies (Kore Press, 2015), which was selected by poet Joy Harjo as winner of the Kore Press First Book Award. Of the collection, Ms. Harjo noted: “This is one of the most unique poetry collections. It’s a kind of graphic poetry book, but that’s not exactly it either. Poetry unfurls within, outside and through images. They establish stark bridges between ancestor and descendant time and presence. This collection is highly experimental and exciting.” Created as an assemblage of poetry, archive, and medical ephemera, the book investigates cultural silences that shape the medical-emotional landscape of family diaspora, extending from China to the Philippines and North America. Ong questions the social hierarchies and gender roles of her upbringing, and uses images of X-ray scans and anatomical drawings to map identity and elegy. A Kundiman Fellow, Monica has also been exhibiting artwork for over a decade nationally and internationally.
$5 suggested donation
Open to the public
RESERVE A SEAT!
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