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Tuesday, 7:00 pm March 17, 2020
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Bestselling author Lisa See and editor Kathyrn Belden offer an insider’s look into the collaborative process of researching, writing, and publishing See’s captivating story of the haenyeo, the Korean female divers of Jeju Island.
All ticket buyers are automatically eligible for a chance to win a $150 gift card to Haenyeo Restaurant in BK. Winner will be announced at the event!
Photo by Patricia Williams
Photo by Patricia Williams
Ms. See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China. Her books have been published in 39 languages. See was the recipient of the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the History Maker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.
Ms. See wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000. That same year, she also curated the exhibition On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience at the Autry Museum. Ms. See then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum, an interactive space for children and their families that focused on Lisa’s bi-racial, bi-cultural family. The installation was up for twelve years. In 2003, she curated the inaugural exhibition—a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong—for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. In addition, she designed a walking tour of L.A.’s Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s Chinatown station. As a longtime trustee on the University of California Press Foundation, she endowed the Lisa See Endowment Fund in Southern California History and Culture.
Photo courtesy of Scribner
Photo courtesy of Scribner
Kathryn Belden, Vice President and Executive Editor, joined the staff at Scribner in 2015. She is interested in the breadth of the American experience, which she pursues through fiction and nonfiction acquisitions. Her engagement with all books begins with voice. General categories in which she works include literary fiction, social and cultural history, race and gender, nature and environment, as well as memoir and biography. Some of the writers she has worked with include Roz Chast, Mitchell S. Jackson, Andrew Krivak, Gordon Lish, Lisa See, Jesmyn Ward, John Edgar Wideman, Nora Krug, Kiese Laymon, and Dr. Matthew Walker, among many others. Previously she worked at Bloomsbury, Four Walls Eight Windows, and Harmony Books/Crown Publishers.
(Hangul: 해녀; lit. sea women) restaurant is named after the legendary female divers from Jeju Island, South Korea.
Holding their breath for two to three minutes at a time while diving to depths of 30-40 feet, these tough-as-nails women free-divers bear the elements year-round to harvest seafood and seaweed. The iron spirit, precision in craft and devotion to community of these Korean matriarchs inspired us.
Haenyeo Restaurant is our homage to these remarkable women. At Haenyeo’s helm is restaurateur and chef Jenny Kwak. A true pioneer in demystifying Korean cuisine, Jenny introduced authentic Korean homecooking to downtown’s hip East Village, with Dok Suni’s (“strong women” named after her mother) and to the West Village with DoHwa.
The Island of Sea Women
By Lisa See
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger.
Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The Island of Sea Women takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.
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