Gene Luen Yang's Graphic Take on Chinese History

China, 1900: bands of trained martial artists crisscross the country, conjuring gods and spirits as they do battle to rid their nation of missionaries and foreign influences. When the Boxer Rebellion ends a year later, over 100,000 are dead, suppressed by a group of Western nations including the US. Gene Luen Yang’s new graphic novel Boxers & Saints (First Second Books) looks at this little-known event through the eyes of two young people, one on each side of the conflict. I caught up with Yang, the award-winning author of American Born Chinese, at Book Court in Brooklyn.

Original airdate 09/30/13


Andrew Lam Writes the Vietnamese Diaspora

A widow whose husband’s killer becomes a customer in her restaurant, a man who discovers he can dial his old house in Vietnam simply by picking up the phone, and a father raising his young daughter alone in a California housing project after his wife dies on the boat crossing. The characters in Andrew Lam’s new book of short stories, Birds of Paradise Lost (Red Hen Press), may have left Vietnam behind, but they are unable to escape the trauma that accompanied their departure. I spoke with Lam, co-founder of New America Media and the author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, about nostalgia and memory, hatred and forgiveness, and sadness and loss.

Original airdate 04/29/13


Maxine Hong Kingston on Death and Dying

Maxine Hong Kingston is the acclaimed author of numerous books, including China Men and Woman Warrior, which at one time was reportedly the most-assigned book on American college campuses. Her honors include the National Book Award, a National Humanities Medal, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kingston's new book, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life (Knopf) is a memoir in verse, a meditation on war, death and dying. Classic characters like Tripmaster Monkey and the Woman Warrior return as she touches on relationships with aging parents, far-off relatives, and longtime loves. “I am 35 years-to-go,” writes the 70-year-old Kingston. “I have a superstition that as long as I / any writer, have things to write, I keep living.”

Captivating, thoughtful, and disarmingly forthright, she joins us for an intimate conversation. She reads from I Love a Broad Margin to My Life and reflects on her role in building a literary Asian America, the limitation of words as a form of communication, and why she's not afraid of dying. With co-producer Naureen Shah.

Original airdate 02/21/11