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Kate Gavino’s ABCs of Being an Asian American Writer

From Ann M. Martin’s Claudia Kishi to intersectionality, SPAM, and The Woman Warrior

By Kate Gavino

In 2013, writer and illustrator Kate Gavino began attending book launches and literary events around New York City and illustrating authors alongside her favorite quote from the night, like this one from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen when he read at AAWW in 2015.

Viet Nguyen Last Nights Reading

Her series of illustrations, called Last Night’s Reading, is now a book. Last month, we invited Kate to choose some of her favorite women of color who are writing on the internet to read at AAWW. After, she she showed us her alphabet for being an Asian American Writer.



One of the reasons behind starting Last Night’s Reading was to get over my fear of sharing my work online. The Internet is full of trolls and soul-crushing comment sections, but I often found that I was the one who censored myself the most. As a kid, I used to write nightly in journals, and the words would flow out from page to page, to the point where by the age of 18, I had filled over 50 notebooks. Now I can’t imagine doing that—I use the delete key over and over again to polish my thoughts. But drawing is different. I reach natural stopping points where I can’t go back and polish things. Reaching this edge can be terrifying, but it’s pushed me to stop chasing perfection and share what I have.

My own self doubt has been shaped by a number of factors, many of which I’ve presented in this visual alphabet. But I contrast this doubt with a strength that’s fueled by authors I admire, positive experiences, and miscellaneous ideas, also presented below. It’s this combination of strength and self-doubt that shapes my work, and I continue to try to find a balance between the two. It’s an ongoing process.

—Kate Gavino