What We Leave Behind
Lucy Tan, Crystal Hana Kim & Vanessa Hua
What We Leave Behind

Join us for an event about globalizing East Asia, love, family, and what happens when we leave one home for another. We’ll hear from Crystal Hana Kim, whose debut novel If You Leave Me tells the story of a refugee of the Korean War and her forsaken love. Lucy Tan will read from What We Were Promised, her novel about the Zhen family and the upheaval that ensues when they move to new moneyed Shanghai after 20 years of living in the American burbs. They’ll be joined by Vanessa Hua, whose latest novel River of Stars tells the story of a Chinese worker pregnant with her boss’s baby who is meant to give birth at a secret maternity home in LA, but escapes instead. Don’t miss this special event about motherhood, the reverberations of history, and migration in the twenty-first century.


What happens when a Chinese-American expat family returns to their homeland to find their class position and the country itself utterly transformed? After 20 years of chasing the American dream in the suburbs, the Zhen family moves back to China to find themselves amongst the post-Maoist nouveau riche of modern Shanghai. Lucy Tan’s debut novel What We Were Promised (Little Brown, 2018) explores the weight of family legacy, tradition, and self-fulfillment in a modern Shanghainese household. Crystal Hana Kim writes, “Dramatic and deeply moving, this would be perfect Oscar material.” Lucy Tan’s fiction has been published in journals such as Asia Literary Review and Ploughshares, where she was winner of the 2015 Emerging Writer’s Contest. She received her B.A. from New York University and her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the 2016 August Derleth Prize. This fall, she will join the UW faculty as the 2018-2019 James C. McCreight Fellow in Fiction. Born and raised in the suburbs of New Jersey, she has spent the last ten years splitting her time between New York City and Shanghai.

In Crystal Hana Kim’s debut historical novel, If You Leave Me (William Morrow, 2018), a refugee of the Korean Civil War is haunted by a forbidden love, and the decisions she made to survive. The book was recently long listed for the Center for Fiction’s 2018 First Novel Prize. Nicole Y. Chung writes in The Washington Post: “[If You Leave Me] is interested in something most others aren’t: The aftermath. It focuses both on what comes after war — as a new country struggles to develop its identity — and what follows Haemi’s fateful decision, as the ramifications of her choice ripple out to affect everyone around her.” Kim is the recipient of numerous awards, including PEN America’s Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, along with fellowships and support from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Jentel Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and an MS in Education from Hunter College. She is currently the Director of Writing Instruction for Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America and a contributing editor at Apogee Journal. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

In Vanessa Hua’s latest novel, A River of Stars (Ballantine Books, 2018), a Chinese worker’s married lover arranges for her to give birth at a secret maternity center in LA to secure their child US citizenship, a plan that goes perfectly well until she decides to leave him and flee for San Francisco’s Chinatown. Celeste Ng writes, “A River of Stars splits ‘the Chinese immigrant story’ into a kaleidoscopic spectrum, putting human faces to the many groups — rich and poor, privileged and marginalized, documented and not — who come to America.” Her first novel, Deceit and Other Possibilities, was the winner of the Asian/Pacific Award for Literature and a finalist for the California Book Award and the Willow Books Literature Awards Grand Prize. Hua has received a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan literary award, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing. Her journalistic writing has been featured many publications including the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Newsweek. Her fiction has been published in The Atlantic, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica, among others. She writes a weekly column for The San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributing nonfiction editor for AAWW’s The Margins.

This event will be livestreamed on the Asian American Writers’ Facebook page.

*The space is wheelchair accessible. No stairs. Direct elevator from ground floor to 6th floor.
*We strongly encourage all participants of the space/event to be scent-free.
If you all have any other specific questions about accessibility, please email Tiffany Le at tle@aaww.org with any questions on reserving priority seating.

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What We Leave Behind

Lucy Tan, Crystal Hana Kim & Vanessa Hua
Thursday, September 20, 2018
7:00 PM
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
112 W 27th St Ste 600
New York NY 11238
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