Shepherd, 1 of 3: “The best debut novels by Korean American writers”

Big thanks to Shepherd, a new website that proudly states its noble intention right there next to its logo: Discover the best books. The amazing Ben Fox is the man behind the site, and here’s my contribution to their noble mission, The best debut novels by Korean American writers. As my post states, this is my first of three “best of” lists! Stay tuned for the next batch.

5/22/2021 2PM ET: In-Person Jersey City Free Public Library Event — Yes, In Person!

I almost can’t believe I’m typing these words, but folks, I’ll be at the Jersey City Free Public Library next Saturday, 5/22/2021, at 2pm. Like physically. Like I will drive and park and walk over to Hamilton Park! I will not be sitting in front of a laptop. Me, human Sung, will be at the park to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. If you are in the area, please stop by! They have a few more programs after me, so stick around. Check it out!

AAPI Heritage Month Celebration at Hamilton Park: Author Discussion with Sung J. Woo

May 22 @ 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm EDT

Sung J. Woo, author of Everything Asian (2009), Love Love (2015), and Skin Deep (2020) will talk about his experience growing up Korean American and his journey as a writer.

Join us for this event at Hamilton Park! Meet us by the gazebo (center of park) for some library fun.

Masks are required for all participants above the age of 2. Social distancing will be respected.

Hamilton Park, 25 W Hamilton Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07302, https://goo.gl/maps/jC6rMveEBM3jTxz79

[library event link]

And the Lefty for the Best Humorous Mystery Novel Goes to…

…one of six people! That’s right, folks — next Saturday, the winner will be announced the nominees will be presented. I think it’s quite likely that the Lefty Award Ceremony this year will resemble the Oscars themselves — that is, the nominees will be inside their own personal, socially-distanced rectangles and the awards will be given out equally remotely. (To be announced in April.)

I’ll be on for sure — and you can watch, if you feel like it! Here’s how.

The 411:
https://leftcoastcrime.org/2022/Awards.html

The Zoom registration link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0mHuzPVaTpymPCFj5-EHkw

Buy the books:
https://bookshop.org/lists/2021-lefty-award-nominees

Haiku and Reviews: Saga, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window

A Horn and a Wing
star-crossed lovers in wartime
trying to save their child.

I don’t read comic books often, but I think it’s about time I started to, because if they are anything like Saga, I’ve been missing out big time.  Saga is written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, and it’s been going on for years (the title of the series is very apt) — since 2012.  I just caught up to the last issue, #42, and it is a humdinger.  Even though this story takes place in another world, in space, the kind of stuff you’d expect from comic books, it is extremely accessible and very much a story for our times.  It’s got elements of Romeo and Juliet and Star Wars, and it’s just an epic, epic story.  Great characters, exciting storylines, what we love about fiction.

She drives her car as
if the road does not exist.
All for a picnic.

A single suitcase.
Pink gown, pink slippers, for night.
Then we hear the scream.

Old movies, these two.  Both by Alfred Hitchcock, and both starring Grace Kelly.  To Catch a Thief felt a bit more dated than Rear Window; it is definitely the lesser of the two films, though still quite entertaining, especially the scene where Kelly drives Cary Grant to a picnic lunch.  Even though I’d seen parts of Rear Window before, I never actually sat down to watch the whole movie from start to finish, and I must say, I think it’s my new favorite Hitchcock (Vertigo was my previous #1).  Not only are the lines hilarious (especially Thelma Ritter’s Stella but really, all the characters), the movie is really about movies — how we all are voyeurs when we watch.  The script is impeccable, the balance between humor and suspense just right.  Also, there are times when Grace Kelly here is so incredibly beautiful that I almost had to avert my eyes!  What great casting — she had to be the perfect woman, and she delivers in form and function.  This is a very difficult part for Jimmy Stewart to play, too, as he’s stuck in that wheelchair and so much of his acting is subtle expressions.  There are so many scenes where he has no one to act against, just himself with his camera or his binoculars, reacting to what he sees.  Rear Window is just a gem of a movie.  Roger Ebert, as always, does a fantastic job of reviewing this film.  Watch it, and then read him.

Interview in Slice Magazine

The lovely folks at Slice were kind enough to conduct this interview with both myself and artist Dina Brodsky.  Last fall, they published our work, Desert Places, in the magazine, and now you can read it online in addition to the interview.  Here’s their intro:

After all of the pieces for an issue of Slice have been edited, we send them over to our art director, Jennifer K. Beal Davis, who then strikes up a dialogue between art and prose. Jennifer and associate art director Matt Davis have a knack for selecting artwork that invites the reader to look at a story, an essay, or a poem in an unexpected way.

When writer Sung J. Woo mentioned that he’d written some stories that were inspired by Dina Brodsky’s paintings, we were immediately intrigued. What if we could capture an even more deliberate conversation between writer and artist?

We published “Desert Places,” which is posted below, in Issue 19 of Slice. What follows is an interview between Sung and Dina about their collaborative creative process.

Read on!

[link]

Columbia Journal: Cycling Guide to Lilliput (11-13)

Check out the latest batch of my ekphrastic endeavor in Columbia Journal, the magazine published by Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Writing program.  It’s available online, three little interrelated stories inspired by the fantastic paintings of Dina Brodsky.  FYI, the first ten of these flash fiction stories can be found in Juked.

2/6/2017: Write Out Loud @ San Diego, CA – The Things We Do for Love

Thank you, Google Alerts, for letting me know that on Monday, February 6th in San Diego, CA, Write Out Loud will be reading my short story “Paris, at Night” as part of their story concert series.  You can read more about it on BroadwayWorld San Diego.  Here’s the excerpt:

Paris at Night by Sung J. Woo – read by Walter Ritter

This futuristic story presents a couple about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. She dreams of seeing Paris at night; he ponders, “What can I do to make this happen?” A surprising examination of the power of love, and the importance of memories…

And here’s a bit about the company that’s putting it on.

Write Out Loud – an organization founded in 2007 with a commitment to inspire, challenge and entertain by reading short stories aloud for a live audience – announces THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE, the fourth production in their 10th Anniversary Season. Write Out Loud Story Concerts bring literature to life – aloud – with rehearsed readings by professional actors. Each program explores specific themes by weaving a variety of stories, poems and music together into a literary tapestry. David Fenner, Jeffrey Howard Ingman, Veronica Murphy and Walter Ritter will perform. A pre-show reception starts at 6:15pm with a 7:00pm curtain.

One of the other stories that they chose is by P.G. Wodehouse, so this is quite an honor.  I only wish I could be there to hear it performed.

[additional link – San Diego Reader]

Favorite Songs of 2016

Better late than never: Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2016; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Fronteras, by Gaby Moreno on Ilusion
Million Reasons, by Lady Gaga on Joanne
Lady Wood, by Tove Lo on Lady Wood
Move Your Body, by Sia on This Is Acting
Hold My Hand, by Jess Glynne on I Cry When I Laugh
Until the Day Dims (Heavy Hands Remix), by The Woodlands on Heavy Hands Remix
Gimmie Love, by Carly Rae Jepsen on Emotion
A Happy Place, by Katie Melua on The House
Fight Song, by Rachel Platten on Wildfire
School Friends, by Now, Now on Threads
James, by Maggie Rogers on Blood Ballet
We’ve Only Just Begun, by the Carpenters on The Essential Collection
Open, by Rhye on Woman
Hold You Tonight, by The Woodlands on Gems and Bones
Hollywood, by Grouplove on Big Mess
Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain, by Lucius on Good Grief
Still Falling for You, by Ellie Goulding on Bridget Jones’s Baby Soundtrack
Used to Love You, by Gwen Stefani on This Is What the Truth Feels Like
Mayhem, by Imelda May on Mayhem
Lone Ranger, by Rachel Platten on Wildfire
Maybe This Christmas, by Tracey Thorn on Tinsel and Lights
She’s Got You, by Rhiannon Giddens on Tomorrow Is My Turn

The highlight this year is Tove Lo’s “Lady Wood,” which has some serious sonic landscapes.  Tove Lo also wrote another song here, the Ellie-Goulding-helmed “Still Falling for You.”  Ms. Lo is at the top of her game.

Kelly Crigger’s The Comfort Station

I got an early look at Kelly Crigger‘s latest book, The Comfort Station, and I was not the only one who found an engaging, well-crafted novel:

The Japanese enslavement of Korean women during the occupation is seen through the keen eyes of Ki-Hwa Kim, our heroine who learns the true meaning of courage and perseverance. Packed with memorable descriptions and enticing characters, Kelly Crigger’s The Comfort Station is the kind of historical fiction that teaches as well as entertains.
-Sung J. Woo, author of Everything Asian

Good historical fiction doesn’t just bring us to another time and place to make us consider the lives and journey of the past – it brings us into the past and immerses us in those lives and journeys. Kelly Crigger’s The Comfort Station is such a book. Crigger writes with passion for, and knowledge of, World War II and Pacific bastion of Rabaul. More importantly though, he writes the characters that make up The Comfort Station with fullness and dimensionality. Not to be missed.
-Matt Gallagher, award winning author of Youngblood

A lyrical novel about a young girl taken captive and forced to serve as a comfort woman. The plot is fast paced and intriguing, but still takes the time to explore the people and places in a beautiful, poetic manner. It’s hard to know if I appreciated the quality of the prose or the excitement of the story more.
-Alana Terry, author of The Beloved Daughter

Now here’s a photo of my cat Mac with the book, since we all know how much the internet loves cats.  Looks like he’s already halfway into the book…