Friday, October 29, 2010


Asian American Writers Workshop and Literary Awards

On September 17th, I read an excerpt from my novel, Picking Bones from Ash, at the Asian American Writers Workshop alongside writers Tishani Doshi, and Oliver de la Paz.

The evening was hosted by AAWW director, Ken Chen, a frustratingly accomplished person who not only graduated from Berkeley and became a lawyer (for the disenfranchised), but turned his back on a lucrative profession to become a poet, whose first collection won the Yale Series of Younger Poets awards. He's also extremely kind and unusually intelligent (with a knack for fashion) and all these things in combination make some of us feel--why bother? Did I mention that his poetry is very good too?

And then there were the readings, all of which were very strong (and by that, I mean Tishani and Oliver had strong readings. I am not going to comment on myself). And both are also beautiful. It can be a lot to live up to--reading in New York City. Tishani is a dancer and a poet, in addition to being a novelist, and of a mixed background. Naturally, this spoke to me. And Oliver is a parent, with two small children, and I was interested to see how these life experiences had become part of his work (and that he still had work to share, even after having children. It gives one hope).

Finally, a bit of nice news. The AAWW sponsors a prize every year for writers of Asian descent. Picking Bones from Ash has been named to the longlist, alongside Ha Jin, Nami Mun, Paul Yoon, Daniyal Mueenuddin, YiYun Li, and Shawna Yang Ryan. This is extraordinary company. Picking Bones from Ash has had quite a journey in the last year. One worries about publishing a novel. Will anyone care? Will anyone read it? And yet, there has been some very kind recognition from important contests. I am extremely grateful.

(And thank you, Oliver, for letting me use these photos).

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