Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Meet and Greet, GIRL IN TRANSLATION by Jean Kwok

"Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, an inspiring debut about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.

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.

footer sig


  1. Awesome psot Lizzy.. I'll have to wait till I get home to watch the video. I am glad that you had so much fun and were inspired so much by her, she is a fabulous writer with a wonderful ability at her craft. I loved her book and know that you will also. XXOO

  2. Marie, I can not wait I have it sitting on my desk as my reward read for getting through some of the others. I also started my Tudor read too i hope it is not too late. Thank you again Marie I did have so much fun.

  3. I get irritated when I hear "locals" complaining about immigrants. They have no idea how difficult it is to go to another country and be surrounded by people who speak another language and operate on a different social system. The locals feel instant assimilation is what should happen. These same locals expect everyone to speak English and behave like Americans when they travel (though they seldom go far from home). They forget that especially the first generation of almost every nationality that has come to this country has held on to their culture and language. It is usually the youth who pick up the language and american culture. The wealth of ethnic festivals and neighborhoods (especially in large cities) is a testament to this countries diverse heritage. It is part of what makes this country strong.

    The current anti-hispanic atmosphere is disturbing. We have co-opted much of their culture for our use, but are giving the people a hard time. They are coming like all the groups before them and for the same reasons. They work hard and contribute much. Yes, I would prefer they come here legally, but they should not all be treated like criminals. Most are hard workers supporting themselves and their families here and in their native country. Many are legal residents.

    The pattern keeps being repeated. The Irish were treated like dirt when they first came over, as were the Chinese, the Eastern Europeans, etc. I am looking forward to reading this book and hope many people do. They need to see what it is like on the other side. It would be even better if they could spend some time on the other side. I have and it often isn't a nice place to be. Times have changed, but in the 1960's I was refused service in NYC because I was with blacks and ignored when trying to get assistance in a store because I was with Filipinos in California (they said it happened all the time). In the Philippines I was both discriminated for and against because I was an American. Now I am a Damn Yankee living in the South. You would have thought I had learned my lesson. We need to become a more accepting country and unfortunately too many people are pulling it into the other direction.

    Sorry I ranted. It is an important topic for me.

  4. What a great post! I found it absolutely fascinating and will for sure want to read the book. Thanks for sharing this story and the video! :D

  5. No kidding Pat this is an important topic for you and me. I agree with you America is a "melting pot". None of would have been here with out some form of immigration. I believe that everyone whether it be today or a hundred years ago have the right to want a better life and if that means leaving the home country to find it then so be it.

    I too have experienced much of the anti-Hispanic atmosphere. Out here in Oregon, many come here to work in the farms. I too would prefer it to be a legal way but sometimes that just is not possible. The only issue I have is that it seems to me from my personal experiences that our government helps them more than any other ethnic group which in turn draws more attention to that group. What I do not like is that my kinder child is being taught Spanish when she should be learning her letter and numbers, I think that since it is a graduation requirement to have 2 years of language that it should be in high school and they should have the choice of what language not forced into Spanish because that is what 87% of the school speaks. I see it from both sides on the other hand immigrants are taken advantage of because people know there situation. For example out here there is a hang out place where you can hire workers for the day if you need them. A person could easily have them bust their buts for them all day and then change there mind and not pay them all the money they earned. A big one is they are targets of robbery out here a lot because normally they carry cash because they do not have bank accounts. In my mind something has to be done for the protection of everyone. It is not right that people suffer and I just know there has to be a better solution than what we have now. I say open the borders and let everyone in but have it like the Irish did on Ellis island. I know many people will not agree with me but I just think everyone deserves a chance.

    I am a white girl but my family is a mixed race family. I never noticed anything "racial" until I had my kids. People do and say weird things that I had never noticed before, shocking but so true many people play the "race" card when it benefits them. It is sad that in this modern world we live in, people still get judged by the color of their skin.

    Kay, Jean was so interesting she is incredibly smart and she really gets it in life. I too look forward to this read.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...