Do your doctor’s visits remind you of the collected works of Franz Kafka? Did your blood pressure spike when you heard about the pharmaceutical CEO who raised the price of an AIDS pill from $13.50 to $750? Well, come hear memoirists Deanna Fei, Sandeep Jauhar, and Dora Wang discuss how the medical industry commodifies its patients and sacrifices the sick at the altar of profit.
In February 2014, the CEO of AOL, Tim Armstrong, cut the retirement plans of thousands of employees and blamed it on a rather unusual scapegoat. He said two “distressed” babies had racketed up exorbitant healthcare costs. Writer Deanna Fei was the mother of one of these babies and rebutted Armstrong’s almost cartoonishly evil account in a highly-publicized essay that caused a national media frenzy. Deanna’s memoir Girl In Glass (Bloomsbury 2015) tells the harrowing account of giving birth at five-and-a-half months and seeing her vulnerable child cling to life with a birth weight of one pound nine ounces. Describing this “courageous and passionate” book, Andrew Solomon wrote that Girl In Glass “takes memoir as a jumping-off point for pondering the obligations attached to scientific progress”--by asking “how much a human life is ultimately worth,” the book “becomes a deeply moving work of moral philosophy.” Deanna is the author of the novel Thread of Sky and a former AAWW Open City Fellow.
Frequent New York Times-contributor Sandeep Jauhar diagnoses the future of medicine from the doctor’s point of view in Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2014). The memoir describes the fraught culture of 21st century medicine from the point of view of an idealistic, angry physician-writer: burnt-out doctors, unhappy patients, bureaucratic hospitals, and for-profit private practices devoted to drumming up fees. As Abraham Verghese writes, “Medicine's radical transformation in recent years has brought both incredible scientific advances and an increasingly dysfunctional health care system. Doctored takes us behind the façade and allows us to see the seamy underbelly. Jauhar's gift is to observe and to beautifully tell the stories. In doing so he leads us to a visceral understanding of what has gone wrong. Doctored is a manifesto for reform.”
Author and physician Dora Wang moderates this thrilling conversation that bridges both deeply personal stories and deeply structural problems. Dora’s book Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World (Riverhead 2011) chronicles how the deregulation of medicine in the 1980s created the for-profit health care crisis. As Booklist wrote: "In a memoir that reads like a quest, psychiatrist Wang reports a decades-long mission to discover or, rather, rediscover the profession to which she once aspired and that is currently becoming more and more obscured by the burgeoning so-called health-care industry.”
Join us as four authors—Lee Herrick, Tracy O’Neill, Matthew Salesses, and Sung J. Woo—read from new books that grapple with the realities of adoption, broken families, and the journeys we take to find out where we belong. All of their protagonists are adoptees, as well as three of the authors.
Matthew Salesses’s The Hundred Year Flood (Little A 2015) was named one the year’s most anticipated debut novels by Buzzfeed, The Millions, Refinery29, and Gawker. As Roxane Gay writes: “Tee is in Prague. He is running away from memory. He is running toward myth. He is searching. In Prague, Tee meets an artist and the artist's wife. Before long, the three are drawn into a fateful series of events as Prague is laid bare by a flood that only comes every hundred years. This beautiful debut novel by Matthew Salesses is much like that flood—epic and devastating and full of natural majesty.” An editor for The Offing and The Good Men Project, Matthew spoke to us about ghosts and America in The Margins and previously wrote for us about how literature, adoption, and being a parent helped him think about the 2012 Sikh temple shooting. (Oh, and he recently played on team AAWW for a Houston fundraiser for books nonprofits!)
Lee Herrick’s Gardening Secrets of the Dead (WordTech 2012) documents his search for his birth family in South Korea. Rife with explorations of memory, history, and attempts to “contact the dead,” Lee’s poetry is a “lyric exploration of the fractured and fragmented landscape of the self, where the body is a song composed of many selves” (Brian Turner). Check out his poetry in our special adoptee poetry portfolio.
In Tracy O’Neill’s debut novel The Hopeful (Ig Publishing 2015), a fiercely independent 17 year old adoptee named Aliprovo Doyle is utterly consumed with competing in the Olympics. When a bone-breaking fall destroys her lifelong dreams, her life spirals into an addiction to amphetamines and an obsession with weight loss. As Karolina Waclawiak writes, “Though Doyle fights to keep us at arm's length with crackling comebacks, we can't help but notice, and want to protect, her tender brokenness as she struggles to break free from a body that has failed her." The book was long-listed for the 2015 Center For Fiction First Novel Prize and Tracy herself was awarded the Center for Fiction’s NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship.
Sung J. Woo's latest novel, Love Love (Soft Skull 2015), follows two radically different siblings as they deal with distant parents, failed marriages, and the realization that one of them is adopted. Koream writes, "Woo, whose 2009 debut novel, Everything Asian, was a Korean American immigrant tale that was somewhat autobiographical, has accomplished something very significant with his latest work. In the tradition of such American classics as John Steinbeck’s East of Eden or Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Love Love explores the impossibility of breaking free from patterns and the hopeless fallacy that, as our parents’ offspring, we will be able to start life with a clean slate." Check out his story “The Suitcase” in The Margins.
Poet and nonfiction writer Luis Francia muses on his most pressing preoccupations: colonial history, contemporary politics, and the arts. Moving between Salman Rushdie's first post-fatwa appearance in the United States to Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in Burma and reaching back to José Rizal’s late-19th century visits to Spain, each essay in Francia's RE: Recollections, Reviews, Reflections (University of the Philippines Press, July 2015) reflects the writer’s consciousness at a particular moment in time.
In Yayoi Kusama: Inventing the Singular (MIT Press, August 2015), Midori Yamamura employs Lisa Lowe’s theory of cultural hybridity as she traces the influences on Yayoi Kusama’s anti-conformist practice. Eschewing the common fixation on the mental health of the Japanese artist, Yamamura instead considers how life in post-World War II Japan, migration to the US, the 1960s downtown New York art scene, and women’s liberation movement shaped Kusama’s work and career.
This event is co-presented by the Asian American Writers' Workshop, Hunter College Asian American Studies Program, and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU...