At the Korea Society


New Currents in Korean American Literature: The Origin and the Distance

Book Café with

Ed Park
Author of Personal Days

Janice Y.K. Lee
Author of The Piano Teacher

Sung J. Woo
Author of Everything Asian

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
6:00 PM-6:30 PM ♦ Registration and Reception
6:30 PM-8:00 PM ♦ Discussion and Q&A

The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(Building entrance on SW corner of
Third Avenue and 57th Street)

A growing number of Korean American authors have found both critical and commercial success in the past decade. Does this “literary wave” mean that Americans of Korean origin have successfully moved from the margins to the mainstream of American literature, writing simply as a “writers” and not as “ethnic writers?” Join us for a literary conversation with novelists Ed Park, Janice Y.K. Lee, and Sung J. Woo, as they discuss issues of acculturation, isolation, cultural alienation, race and class, in relation to their own works.

6/27: Wiimbledon 2009

Image00005Brooklyn in the morning: light, warm, and bright.  I was on my way to Barcade for Wiimbledon 2009, the third year of the tournament.  The first year, I couldn’t make it for some reason.  Last year, my niece got married, so again, no go.  But this year, I was at the bar/arcade half an hour early, a little excited, a little nervous.  I’ve been playing Wii Tennis for a good while, but mostly against the computer.  Every time I did play a human being, I won.  Which didn’t mean much, since I hadn’t played many people.

Continue reading

6/25: Generation XYZ

About the only thing that wasn’t perfect about the Generation X reading at Happy Ending was the microphone,  which kept cutting in and out.  But the five readers persevered and a great time was had by all.


Halley Feiffer was the first one up, and she performed a poet monologue — meaning she was acting as if she were a poet.  It was funny all the way until the end, when it became quite startlingly sad.  Which I’m fairly certain is exactly how it was suppose to go.  It always amazes me how much physical poise actors have.


Up next was Justin Taylor, who read a great piece from his upcoming collection.


And then it was my turn, and I read an essay that I wrote for the occasion, some Gen-X bits from my novel (the TV shows Three’s Company and Diff’rent Strokes were both in the mix), and finally, a flash fiction piece I wrote for Pindeldyboz.

After a short intermission…


Bianca Stone was up, and although she was frustrated with the projector (it washed out the lighter lines of her comics), it didn’t matter a bit to me, as I was able to see and laugh and appreciate every single one of her poems.  She can draw and she can write — as far as I’m concerned, she’s superwoman.


Here’s a picture of April Naoko Heck, who put this entire event together.  Another superwoman.


The final reader of the night was Nick Flynn, and boy, he was just dynamite.  He read from a variety of works, including a poem that he wrote while listening to Bianca, about the passing of Michael Jackson.

That was the evening, one I won’t soon forget.  Before we descended the staircase of the subway station at Delancey and Essex, we heard the song “The Way You Make Me Feel” being blasted from the open windows of a car.  A part of me wished we could stay instead of driving back to Jersey, maybe head over to Times Square, since the news of his death was still breaking and if anything significant were to happen, it would be nowhere else but here, the city of cities.

But unlike the King of Pop, we still had things to do and worry about the next day, so we went home.  In the car, we hopped from radio station to radio station, listening to Michael Jackson’s music: “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Black or White,” “Human Nature,” and about thousand other songs.  The man had more hits than Tony Soprano.

New York City Week: McGoldrick, Gen XYZ, Wiimbledon

I’m not entirely certain how this happened, but I’m going to be in the city three times next week.  Two of these are book-related events; the last one…not so much.

McGoldrick1Tuesday, June 23, 1:30pm: McGoldrick Library @ Flushing

A Book Discussion With Author Sung J. Woo
Recently published, “Everything Asian” is a tale of family, community and the struggle for understanding as a young Korean immigrant adjusts to his new American life.  Author Sung J. Woo invites you to participate in a discussion of his novel, giving you the chance to ask your questions about plot and more. Refreshments will be served.

GenXYZrevised6.25.09Thursday, June 25, 7:30pm: Gen XYZ @ Happy Ending

In high school we chugged wine coolers and taped MTV’s “120 Minutes.” Our college dorms had the first condom machines. We know someone who booked Nirvana before Nirvana was big. Winona was hot! We are Gen X. And for this literary evening, poet (and proud Gen-Xer) April Naoko Heck invites writers to share their original work, and to reflect on how Gen-X culture (art and literature of the 1980s & 1990s, when Gen-Xers came of age) changed their lives. GEN XYZ seeks to create new ties among emerging and established writers, and to spark dialogue about what exactly defines a generation. Expect delicious drinks, comedy, and above all, great writing.

I’ll be reading with Nick Flynn, Justin Taylor, Halley Feiffer, and Bianca Stone.  I’ll be reading an essay I wrote specifically for this event, and for those who have attended my readings before, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll do something that you’ve never seen me do before.

wiimbledon_logoSaturday, June 27, 10am: Wiimbledon @ Barcade [Brooklyn]

WTF is Wiimbledon?

Wiimbledon is a Wii Tennis tournament run by Brooklynites Steve Bryant and Lane Buschel.

Finally!  I’ve been waiting three years to do this.  The tournament will start with 128 players, and there can be only one winner.  Will it be me?  Who knows?  What I do know is that I better practice, because it’s been like six months since I turned the Wii on.  If you’re in the neighborhood, please come on by and cheer me on.

Slipper Room, Bootleg Books, BooksNJ

A quick update through photos.  At the Slipper Room, I read with Judy Blundell, Matthew Aaron Goodman, and Theresa Rebeck:







I guess that’s the last time I try to take indoor shots in a burlesque house with my cameraphone.  You’ll just have to take my word for it that those people in the pictures are who I say they are.

On Saturday, I did a quick interview with Jeff Rivera for Bootleg Books at Book Court in Brooklyn:

Me and Jeff Rivera

Me and Jeff Rivera

At the end of the interview, I think Jeff and I came to the mutual conclusion that my novel is a Korean Harry Potter, but without magic.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

And today was BooksNJ, where Wendy Lee and Ed Lin and I did a panel on immigrant literature:

Image00001 Image00002 Image00003
Wendy, Me, and Ed

Wendy, Me, and Ed

It was a great time — our panel was packed, we got to sign books for eager readers, and the weather was New Jersey gorgeous.

Review from Book Addiction

From Book Addiction:

The book is best described as a novel in stories.  It is definitely a concrete novel, it follows a mostly linear timeline and there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end to it.  But each chapter is absolutely a short story in and of itself.  You could read any one of the chapters, and even though you may not be intimately acquainted with the characters, you would get enough of a sense of them to fully understand and appreciate what that chapter offers.

[read more]

If my novel were a house, this reviewer figured out the blueprint.  As a writer, there’s no higher compliment than to be understood.  She made my day.

6/10: Beatrice & 6/14: BooksNJ2009

I’ll be doing two events this week:

Wednesday, June 10: The Biggest Beatrice Reading Yet


If you were at last week’s “Beatrice at the Merc” season finale, you know how awesome the combination of debut novelists and the singer/songwriters of the Bushwick Book Club can be—but if you missed it, I’ve got good news: Next Wednesday, June 10, I’m going back to the Slipper Room (167 Orchard St.) with four writers—Judy Blundell, Matthew Aaron Goodman, Theresa Rebeck, and Sung J. Woo—and five musicians—Franz Nicolay, Susan Hwang, Dibson Hoffweiler, Tom Curtin, and Phoebe Kreutz—and we’re going to put on another no cover/cash bar extravaganza. (Doors open 7 p.m.)

[read more]

Sunday, June 14: BooksNJ


BooksNJ2009 brings together writers and readers

90 authors, illustrators, and poets up close and personal
talking about their books and their craft

Crafts for kids

The event is free and open to everyone.

[read more]

I’ll be doing a panel called The Immigrant Experience with Wendy Lee and Ed Lin.

6/6: Cornell Reunion Author Signing

The last time I was back at my alma mater was 2001, and of course, what I said is what everybody says — boy, have things changed.  And now, another eight years after that witness of change, the repetition of that well-worn phrase is once again apt.  They must’ve added another dozen buildings, and parts of Cornell are almost unrecognizable.

I returned for the reunion and the author signing.  The best part of the event was seeing old friends and also meeting the spectacularly talented J. Robert Lennon.

5/30: West Coast Launch at The Hive

Pictures from the west coast launch at The Hive.

Paul Gacioch, fellow NYU workshopper, was kind enough to give me the best introduction I’ll probably ever have in my life.  You can listen to a snippet of it, plus the reading itself on YouTube.

A huge thanks to the fine folks at Debut Lit for putting me out there coast to coast!