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Archive for the ‘winberg chai’ Category

Had a very exciting reading for Dragon Chica at the wonderful Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado.

Tattered Cover Book Store/Colfax Ave. location

I arrived early with my father when suddenly the lights went out. At first we thought it was just a blown fuse, but then everyone noticed the lights for the whole block were out…all buildings, all street lights, even the traffic lights.

Power outage!

Soon there were firetrucks racing down the street, police cars, sirens.

Waiting for the power to come back on!

The helpful staff at Tattered Cover were leading patrons around with flashlights. My father and I decided to head to the attached restaurant, Encore, where we were allowed to sit in the dark in their waiting room. The maitre d’ told us about her exciting blackout experience in New York City from a few years ago, and my father shared his exciting blackout stories from 1977 in NYC (which was immortalized in Spike Lee’s movie Summer of Sam). Ah, the looting, the gunshots, the chaos…what memories!

My father waiting out the blackout

The most excitement we witnessed through the windows tonight, however, was a brave (crazy?) man who decided to jaywalk through the intersection of eight lanes of traffic. I have to say, Denverites are very polite. I have a feeling he would have been a damp spot on the pavement in many other cities.

At last the lights came back on, and my father was even able to eat a lovely heart-healthy entrée at Encore, before it was time to head back to Tattered Cover for my reading.

At the Dragon Chica reading

I was rather afraid no one would show up because of the blackout. However, we had a lovely turnout including many family friends who had braved more than 11 blocks of traffic-light-less intersections in the dark to drive to the bookstore. Much thanks to Joe McGowan (my former boss at the Associated Press-Denver Bureau), Babette André (a former foreign correspondent who reported from Vietnam during the American-Vietnam War years), Lisa Stuart (a founding member of the J-USA club at CU-Boulder—-talk about memories!), Lynn Taylor (a Denver public schools librarian) and her charming husband, and Joe Nguyen (editor of Asian Avenue Magazine and www.asianxpress.com, which both cover the Asian American community in the Denver-metro area). Sorry I didn’t catch everyone else’s names.

Babette André and Joe McGowan, Jr.

As many of the people present had traveled to SE Asia or personally had experience with the arrival of the first generation of SE Asian refugees in America (including friends and family members), we talked about the circumstances that led to more than 100,000 Cambodian refugees being relocated to the U.S. after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), the infamous American bombing campaign in Cambodia (Operation Menu), the difficulties of diagnosing PTSD then and now across different cultures, and even the current state of politics in Cambodia as well as the positive efforts made by Cambodian Americans to form NGOs and other groups to help Cambodia…from education to entrepreneurship.

This is one of the many reasons I love the Tattered Cover Book Store. It’s truly a national treasure! For those who’ve never had the pleasure yet of going to TC, not only does the store stock amazingly diverse books (my father was able to find an academic book on China he’d been looking for), but they have amazingly helpful and knowledgeable staff, a gorgeous setting in a renovated former theater (check out those high ceilings! and red-velvet chairs). Plus they attract very knowledgeable people to their readings!

My father and me with the Taylors

Pat Walsh asked if I would put together a book club guide for Dragon Chica and so I will get working on that. Will post as soon as it’s done!

Pat Walsh of the Tattered Cover

As this is my final book tour stop until spring 2011, if you want an autographed copy of Dragon Chica, you can order one from books@tatteredcover.com. They ship worldwide.

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I was interviewed by travel guru Rick Steves for his radio show about the book CHINA A TO Z, which I co-authored with my father.

However, I just realized that I never put a link to that interview on my blog. So here it is, folks! You can listen to the hour-long radio show or click on the book icon.

The archived show is called “An American Travel Guide to China.”

Rick Steves, China A to Z, & May-lee! 🙂

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My father called me bright and very early this morning to tell me that Senator Kennedy had died.

For my father, like so many of his generation, the Kennedy family has embodied so many American dreams and nightmares. When I was a child just starting school, both my parents talked so frequently of Pres. John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the moment they learned of his death, their horrified reactions, their tears,  that I had no idea it had occurred a decade earlier. It seemed to me they were discussing a recent event, like my Ye-ye’s second heart attack, my maternal grandfather’s trip to the hospital. I assumed we must be related, the Kennedys and our family. Why else did my parents talk about them so much and so passionately?

This morning my father’s voice sounded ragged around the edges, heavy, the opposite of his usual excited manner of shouting into the phone to me. The death of Senator Kennedy meant the last link to that time of great hope and great despair that he and my mother had shared together, when the Civil Rights Movement made it possible for their interracial marriage to be recognized in all 50 states, when the Kennedy brothers campaigned on hope, when my parents prayed for the end to the terrible war in Vietnam. The deaths of JFK, MLK, RFK hurt them deeply.

I don’t think I fully understood what my parents had meant about the excitement and hope they had felt when JFK was elected president until I experienced the same emotions during President Obama’s campaign for the presidency.

My father later called me back. He’d gone searching through his files and found a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had sent to him when my father was a young poly-sci professor at the University of Redlands. My father now exclaimed excitedly, “Kennedy agreed with me about China! He wanted better relations! He knew China and the U.S. should have close ties!” (When my father is excited, all of his declarations end in exclamation points.)

He read one paragraph of the letter to me: “As your correspondence indicates, we share many views in common on the need for the United States to explore ways to improve our relations with China. I feel very strongly that it is the United States who must take the first step to end the present impasse in these relations. We should abandon our current futile policy of diplomatic, political, and economic isolation of the mainland and begin to move now toward a policy that seeks to bring China into the international community. Only through such action can we realistically hope to ensure future peace for Asia and the world.”

The letter was dated May 6, 1969. Senator Ted Kennedy was ahead of his times in his thinking, then as now.

My father then faxed the letter to me and said he was going to bring it to his class today on China to show his students.

I scanned the letter into a pdf copy because I thought it was historically interesting to read Sen. Kennedy’s prescient thinking on U.S.-China relations, views shared by my father. In 1969, many American politicians saw China as The Enemy, a Communist state that could never change, that was hellbent on spreading Communism through the world (the domino theory). History has proven such short-sightedness wrong.

To read the full text of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s letter to my father, please click here: Ltr-Senator-Ted-Kennedy-to-Prof-Winberg-Chai

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