Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Author Meet and Greet, GIRL IN TRANSLATION by Jean Kwok
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.
Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation".
The event was FABULOUS! Nothing ever happens in Oregon but this time when something was going to happen leave to one of my blogger buddies to give me a nudge in the right direction. Thank you Marie I am so glad you did and I hope to get to the lovely copy you got me sometime this summer.
Jean was great! I got there early so I could be front and center because I had no idea how many people would show up. Before it started I wandered every book shelf and made a couple really good finds paid for my stuff including girl in translation and parked it front and center. I was not sure what to expect in the whole meet author thing. She came out and I instantly knew I was going to love her she is tiny, really petite and has the most beautiful hair ever. I recorded the whole first part of the video on the blackberry granted not the best but it so worked.
The most inspiring thing about her was the real story behind the book and her family being first generation immigrants I really felt I could relate to her story my mother in law immigrated here from Korea and her story about her brother really drew a raw nerve on me. Her bother is in the book and one of the characters is loosely based off of him. She spoke about her real brother and told about how good he was in school and how he was able to graduate high school 2 years early and be one of the youngest people ever admitted into MIT. He went on to be a top scientist and would tell people he was "a rocket scientist", sadly her brother passed away last November but before he did, he did read the book.
Another cool story she shared was about her family in real life and their escape from China, they could only get two out and their mom decided the 2 older girls but right when the moment came for them to sneak off across the bridge between China and Hong Kong the eldest one turned back. She had a love she could not leave behind, her high school sweetheart and her got married and stayed behind living out the communist rule in China and 22 years later they were able to get them out and bring them to the states.
Jean's most compelling statement is that with the book she wants people to see the reality that people who speak another language might seem unpleasant in English but in their own native tongue could be a very funny witty person. That after the read you realize that the woman who you though were unpleasant because in reality they did not know the language, could have been her mother in reality and you never would have known.