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1/11/2005 - "How To Write an Asian American Novel in Only 30 Years"

Reinhardt College Lecture to Feature Novelist Shawn Wong on Jan. 26, 2005

A renowned novelist, professor and pioneer of Asian American studies, Shawn Wong will travel from "sea to shining sea," from Seattle, Wash., to Waleska, Ga., to share "How To Write an Asian American Novel in Only 30 Years" with Reinhardt College guests, students, faculty, and staff on Jan. 26, 2005. The presentation will begin at 10 a.m. in the Falany Performing Arts Center Concert Hall and is open to the public free of charge.

In his lecture, Wong will give an overview of Asian American writing. He will share how he "recovered" the texts of little known Asian American writers and has helped to bring them into prominence. He will also talk about his first novel Homebase, which won both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the 15th Annual Governor's Writers Day Award of Washington. This book provides fascinating insights into the Asian American experience by telling the main character's family history through four generations, from the great grandfather who came to the U.S. to work on the railroad, to the main character, a modern-day Chinese American male.

The event is being organized by Associate Professor of English Susan S. Lester. She first learned of Wong while using an anthology he had edited. "I was using the anthology at Reinhardt's North Fulton Center for a multicultural American lit course when their director, Dr. Jessica Wood, mentioned that the editor and her husband had been freshmen roommates in college," Lester said. "I knew someday that connection might prove valuable, and when 'The Year of Asia' came along, I quickly suggested Mr. Wong be invited to speak on our campus."

Wong is a popular speaker, both nationally and internationally. His second novel, American Knees, is currently being made into a movie. Described by Publishers Weekly as "a romantic comedy about cross-cultural identities," the book's title comes for a school-yard taunt that the book's main character thought he had left behind years ago. He was featured in the 1997 PBS-TV documentary, "Shattering the Silences" and in the Bill Moyers special "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience" in 2003.

Lester expects Wong's lecture to add an exciting literary dimension to the College's yearlong programmatic emphasis on the varied countries and cultures of Asia. His experience will also help to diversify the College's literary programming.

"His appearance will be a great opportunity for our students to meet a working writer from a different culture and a different area of our country," Lester said. "While we have had several Southern female writers on our campus, Mr. Wong's insights will reflect a different experience and broaden the diversity of what we offer to our students and our community."

With an undergraduate degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, Wong is now a professor of English and director of the Honors Program at The University of Washington.

In addition to writing novels, Wong is also the co-editor and editor of six Asian American and American multicultural literary anthologies including the pioneering anthology Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers (1974), The Big Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Chinese America and Japanese America in Literature (1991) and Literary Mosaic: Asian American Literature (1995). He has written screenplays and was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Italy.

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