Winner of the 2017 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction
Finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN USA Literary Center Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize
In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses. He keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.
Following her award-winning memoir The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father, Bee Yang, the song poet--a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by America's Secret War. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. The songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a St. Paul housing project and on the factory floor, until, with the death of Bee's mother, they leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has burnished a life of poverty for his children, polishing their grim reality so that they might shine.
One of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation, Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the jargon, formulas, and polite lies that bore us all. His powerful debut, The Souls of Yellow Folk, does more than collect a decade's worth of cult-reputation essays--it corrals new American herds of pickup artists, school shooters, mandarin zombies, and immigrant strivers, and exposes them to scrutiny, empathy, and polemical force.
In his celebrated and prescient essay "The Face of Seung-Hui Cho," Yang explores the deranged logic of the Virginia Tech shooter. In his National Magazine Award-winning "Paper Tigers," he explores the intersection of Asian values and the American dream, and the inner torment of the child exposed to "tiger mother" parenting. And in his close reading of New York Magazine's popular Sex Diaries, he was among the first critics to take seriously today's Internet-mediated dating lives.
Yang catches these ugly trends early because he has felt at various times implicated in them, and he does not exempt himself from his radical honesty. His essays retain the thrill of discovery, the wary eye of the first explorer, and the rueful admission of the first exposed.
Named a notable book of the year by the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post, and one of the best books of the year by Spectator and Publishers Weekly, The Souls of Yellow Folk is the powerful debut from one of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation. Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the polite lies that bore us all.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.
Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, "qaug dab peg"--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.
Lia Lee 1982-2012
Lia Lee died on August 31, 2012. She was thirty years old and had been in a vegetative state since the age of four. Until the day of her death, her family cared for her lovingly at home.
"A captivating memoir of a courageous survivor" (Publishers Weekly) and "a window onto the panorama of modern Korean history" (St. Petersburg Times) this is a radiant and engaging story about a young American woman's discovery about the life of her Korean grandmother.Helie Lee's grandmother, Hongyong Baek, came of age in a unified but socially repressive Korea, where she was taught the roles that had been prescribed for her: obedient daughter, demure wife, efficient household manager. Ripped from her home first during the Japanese occupation and again during the bloody civil war that divided her country, Hongyong fought to save her family by drawing from her own talents and values. Over the years she proved her spirit indomitable, providing for her husband children by running a successful restaurant, building a profitable opium business, and eventually becoming adept at the healing art of ch'iryo. When she was forced to leave her country, she moved her family to California, where she reestablished her ch'iryo practice. Writing in her grandmother's voice, Helie Lee recreates an individual experience in a unique culture that is both seductively exotic and strangely familiar. With wit and verve, she claims her own Korean identity and illuminates the intricate experiences of Asian-American women in this century.
During World War II over 5,500 young Japanese Americans left the concentration camps to which they had been confined with their families in order to attend college. Storied Lives describes--often in their own words--how nisei students found schools to attend outside the West Coast exclusion zone and the efforts of white Americans to help them. The book is concerned with the deeds of white and Japanese Americans in a mutual struggle against racism, and argues that Asian American studies--indeed, race relations as a whole--will benefit from an understanding not only of racism but also of its opposition, antiracism.
To uncover this little known story, Gary Okihiro surveyed the colleges and universities the nisei attended, collected oral histories from nisei students and student relocation staff members, and examined the records of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and other materials.
The American Dream of success for many Asian Americans includes the highest levels of education. But what does it mean to live that success? In Straight A's Asian American students at Harvard reflect on their common experiences with discrimination, immigrant communities, their relationships to their Asian heritage, and their place in the university. They also explore the difficulties of living up to family expectations and the real-world effects of the "model minority" stereotype. While many of the issues they face are familiar to a wide swath of college students, their examinations of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and culture directly speak to the Asian American experience in U.S. higher education. Unique and revealing, intimate and unreserved, Straight A's furthers the conversation about immigrant histories, racial and ethnic stereotypes, and multiculturalism in contemporary American society.
In an extraordinary blend of narrative history, personal recollection, & oral testimony, the author presents a sweeping history of Asian Americans. He writes of the Chinese who laid tracks for the transcontinental railroad, of plantation laborers in the canefields of Hawaii, of "picture brides" marrying strangers in the hope of becoming part of the American dream. He tells stories of Japanese Americans behind the barbed wire of U.S. internment camps during World War II, Hmong refugees tragically unable to adjust to Wisconsin's alien climate & culture, & Asian American students stigmatized by the stereotype of the "model minority." This is a powerful & moving work that will resonate for all Americans, who together make up a nation of immigrants from other shores.