Saturday, 10:30 am EDT - 3:00 pm EDT May 20, 2023
I.S. 220 in Sunset Park
The Center for Fiction and the Chinese-American Planning Council present a family day for readers of all ages at I.S. 220 in Sunset Park, as part of our programming for the NEA Big Read of Interior Chinatown and AAPI Heritage Month!
- 10:30am: Doors open at I.S. 220 Sunset Park.
- 11am–12pm: Grace Lin will read from her picture book, A Big Mooncake for Little Star, interspersed with musical performances by Annie Chen of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. This program is designed for young readers and their families.
- 12–1pm: Grace Lin will present her wonderful middle grade novel, The Year of the Dog, followed by a draw-along activity. Attendees will have opportunities to ask Grace questions. This program is designed for middle grade readers and their families.
- 1–2pm: Book signing and lunch break.
- 2–3pm: Ava Chin, author of Mott Street, will discuss her work with Wayne Ho, President and CEO of Chinese-American Planning Council. This program is designed for teen and adult readers.
Throughout the day, we will be giving away free copies of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, along with a reading guide and discussion questions!
Please Note: Access to this venue requires the use of stairs.
Presented with Chinese-American Planning Council and Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. This Big Read initiative was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and support from Hachette Book Group and Penguin Random House.
Annie Chen is a vocalist, composer, and bandleader from Beijing, based in New York since 2013. Her distinctive style draws on a rich continuum of musical traditions from Asia, Europe, and the Americas. As a bandleader, Chen has performed extensively in prestigious New York City venues including the Blue Note, Cornelia St. Cafe, Flushing Town Hall, and Club Bonafide. In China, she has performed at festivals including Shanghai International Jazz Festival and Beijing Nine-Gates Jazz Festival, as well as venues such as Blue Note Beijing, Guangzhou Xinghai Concert Hall, JZ Shanghai, and JZ Hangzhou, where she has been featured as artist-in-residence in 2015, 2016, and 2018. Her 2018 octet recording Secret Treetop was praised by Downbeat as “[a] clear-eyed fusion of East and West with an avant-garde twist,” and was nominated for a CMIC Best Vocal Jazz Album award in China, analogous to a Grammy in the U.S. The album is a follow-up to 2014’s Pisces the Dreamer, which a features a deft traversal of Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Eastern European, and Afro-American musical landscapes.
Chen studied classical piano beginning at age four at China’s Central Conservatory of Music, graduating in 2008. In 2015 she earned a Masters in Jazz Performance from Queens College, studying with Charenée Wade, Antonio Hart, David Berkman, and Michael Philip Mossman.
Ava Chin is the author of Eating Wildly, winner of the Les Dames d’Escoffier International M.F.K. Fisher Book Prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, and Saveur. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Institute for the Humanities, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She is an associate professor of creative nonfiction at the City University of New York.
Photo Credit: Tommy Kha
Wayne Ho is the President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), the nation’s largest Asian American social services agency. With a mission to promote the social and economic empowerment of Chinese American, immigrant, and low-income communities, CPC serves over 60,000 community members in the areas of education, family support, and community and economic empowerment at 35 locations throughout New York City. Since the pandemic started, CPC has led a recovery platform for Asian American neighborhoods, spoken out against the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, advocated for hazard pay and PPE for essential workers in the human services sector, distributed over $1.25 million and nearly 100,000 meals to community members, and been quoted in over 150 news stories. Previously, Wayne served as Chief Strategy and Program Officer for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), an association of 200 community and faith-based member agencies aiming to promote upward mobility of underserved New Yorkers, from 2013-2017, and was the Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), the nation’s only pan-Asian children’s advocacy organization, from 2004-2013. Wayne has been recognized by City and State in the inaugural Asian Power 100 in 2020, in the inaugural Nonprofit Power 50 in 2018, and as a 40 Under 40 New York City Rising Star in 2014. He was one of 10 leaders invited to meet with President Obama during the White House’s Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration in 2011. Wayne serves on numerous boards, including Coro New York Leadership Center and NYC Employment & Training Coalition, and is appointed to several New York City and State advisory boards. Wayne received his Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley and his Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Before Grace Lin was an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of picturebooks, early readers and middle grade novels, she was the only Asian girl (except for her sisters) going to her elementary school in Upstate New York. That experience, good and bad, has influenced her books—including her Newbery Honor Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, her Geisel Honor Ling & Ting, her National Book Finalist When the Sea Turned Silver and her Caldecott Honor A Big Mooncake for Little Star. But, it also causes Grace to persevere for diversity as an occasional New England Public Radio commentator and when she gave her TEDx talk “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf,” as well as her PBSNewHour video essay “What to do when you realize classic books from your childhood are racist?.” She continued this mission with a hundred episodes of the podcast kidlitwomen* and now currently hosts two other podcasts: Book Friends Forever and Kids Ask Authors. In 2016, Grace’s art was displayed at the White House and Grace, herself, was recognized by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling. In 2022, Grace was awarded the Children’s Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association.
Photo Credit: Danielle Tait
Charles Yu is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Le Prix Médicis étranger, and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including the New Yorker, the New York Times magazine, the Atlantic, Wired, Time and Ploughshares.
Together with TaiwaneseAmerican.org, he has also sponsored the Betty L. and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes for Students. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.
Photo Credit: Tina Chiou
By Charles Yu
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?
After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.
A Big Mooncake for Little Star
By Grace Lin
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?
In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon..
The Year of the Dog
By Grace Lin
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
When Pacy’s mom tells her that this is a good year for friends, family, and “finding herself,” Pacy begins searching right away. As the year goes on, she struggles to find her talent, deals with disappointment, makes a new best friend, and discovers just why the Year of the Dog is a lucky one for her after all.
This funny and profound book is a wonderful debut novel by award-winning and bestselling author and illustrator Grace Lin, and young readers will be sure to love and treasure it for years to come.
Mott Street: A Chinese American Family's Story of Exclusion and Homecoming
By Ava Chin
Published by Penguin
As the only child of a single mother in Queens, Ava Chin found her family’s origins to be shrouded in mystery. She had never met her father, and her grandparents’ stories didn’t match the history she read at school. Mott Street traces Chin’s quest to understand her Chinese American family’s story. Over decades of painstaking research, she finds not only her father but also the building that provided a refuge for them all.
Breaking the silence surrounding her family’s past meant confronting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882—the first federal law to restrict immigration by race and nationality, barring Chinese immigrants from citizenship for six decades. Chin traces the story of the pioneering family members who emigrated from the Pearl River Delta, crossing an ocean to make their way in the American West of the mid-nineteenth century. She tells of their backbreaking work on the transcontinental railroad and of the brutal racism of frontier towns, then follows their paths to New York City.
In New York’s Chinatown she discovers a single building on Mott Street where so many of her ancestors would live, begin families, and craft new identities. She follows the men and women who became merchants, “paper son” refugees, activists, and heads of the Chinese tong, piecing together how they bore and resisted the weight of the Exclusion laws. She soon realizes that exclusion is not simply a political condition but also a personal one.
Gorgeously written, deeply researched, and tremendously resonant, Mott Street uncovers a legacy of exclusion and resilience that speaks to the American experience, past and present..
About this series
NEA Big Read 2023
The Center for Fiction’s 2023 Big Read initiative focuses on Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, winner of the National Book Award. Our free multidisciplinary public programming includes discussion groups and public events with authors, musicians, and scholars. The Center also connected with younger readers and writers through our signature KidsRead / KidsWrite programming, hosting a teen storyteller contest and offering programs featuring books suitable for younger readers that engage with similar themes.
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