A night of Southeast Asian American memoir. Six years ago at the age of twenty-one, Jaed Muncharoen Coffin, a half-Thai American man, left New England to visit his mother’s native village of Panomsarakram-thus fulfilling a familial obligation. A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants (Da Capo, 2008), part armchair travel, part coming-of-age story, is Coffin’s debut that chronicles his journey. Driven to tell her family’s story after her grandmother’s death, The Latehomecomer (Coffee House Press, 2008) is Kao Kalia Yang’s tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. The Latehomecomer is an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.
Jaed Coffin holds a B.A. in philosophy from Middlebury College and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Writing Program. A boxer, sea-kayaker, and lobster fisherman, he lives in Brunswick, Maine.
Born in a Thai refugee camp in 1980, Kao Kalia Yang immigrated to Minnesota when she was six. Together with her sister, she founded Words Wanted, a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. A graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University, Yang has also recently completed a short film on the Hmong American refugee experience.
Cosponsored by Singha Beer
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