A new year

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I started off 2016 eating fried chicken in Seoul with a friend named Nathan and ended it eating shrimp ceviche and fish tacos in Brooklyn with a different Nathan. Maybe this will become a new tradition, a new Nathan for every year. (just kidding, friends! I am not on the lookout for more Nathans!)

My story, A Ceiling of Sky, can now be read here!

My website is also finally up and running: www.suyeelin.com

And 2017 has some exciting things in store. Some traveling to see a good friend on the west coast, an off-site reading during AWP in DC, a family trip, and two stories coming out soon, ones I’m super excited about and in really great publications.

And now, here’s my yearly list of books I’d read. I could’ve done better in terms of quantity but man, are there some gems in here:

1. The Sympathizer- Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. The Circle- Dave Eggers
3. Onion Tears- Shubnum Khan
4. On A Moonless Night- Dai Sijie
5. Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings-Stephen O’Connor
6. The Next- Stephanie Gangi
7. Modern Romance- Aziz Ansari (NF)
8. Square Wave- Mark De Silva
9. Nimrod Flip Out- Etgar Keret
10. A Walk in the Woods- Bill Bryson (NF)
11. A Tale for the Time Being- Ruth Ozeki
12. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up- Marie Kondo (NF)
13. Kitchen Confidential- Anthony Bourdain (NF)
14. A Little Life- Hanya Yanagahira
15. The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn- Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
16. The Rum Diary- Hunter S. Thompson
17. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh- Michael Chabon
18. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours- Helen Oyeyemi
19. Gold Fame Citrus- Claire Vaye Watkins
20. Black Glass- Karen Joy Fowler
21. The Star Side of Bird Hill- Naomi Jackson
22. The Heart Goes Last- Margaret Atwood
23. The Story of My Teeth- Valeria Luiselli
24. Re Jane- Patricia Park
25. A Separation- Katie Kitamura
26. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine- Alexandra Kleeman
27. The Bad Girl- Mario Vargas Llosa
28. The Dream-Quest of Velitt Boe- Kij Johnson
29. The Face: Strangers on a Pier- Tash Aw (NF)
30. Intimations- Alexandra Kleeman
31. Map of the Invisible World- Tash Aw
32. The Throwback Special- Chris Bachelder
33. Marrow Island- Alexis Smith
34. The Regional Office is Under Attack!- Manuel Gonzalez
35. Two Serious Ladies- Jane Bowles
36. All Over Creation- Ruth Ozeki
37. Burial Rites- Hannah Kent
38. Girl in Glass- Deanna Fei (NF)
39. The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be- J.B. MacKinnon (NF)
40. Wonders of the Invisible World- Christopher Barzak

Happy 2017, everyone!

Garden Party in winter

It’s snowy and slushy here in New York for the first time this winter and I’m late with my news. I’ve got several pieces that came out/are coming out this season so here’s a quick list:

  • A poem titled “Garden Party” in Meniscus 4.2, a cool Australian lit mag. You can read the whole issue here.
  • Two micro-fiction pieces titled “Tiger in the Mountains” and “Tulou Secrets” in the latest issue of NANO Fiction, which also happens to be their 10th anniversary and last issue.
  • My story “A Ceiling of Sky” is coming out on Dec. 26th from The Forge Literary Magazine and they were amazing enough to nominate it for a Pushcart Prize! My first nomination!

Besides all the writing news, it’s been an autumn of work and reading and gymming. And today, I made a Hasselback potato gratin recipe blithely assuming it’d be like potato chips on top and potato gratin on the bottom but I was wrong. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a delicious potato gratin covered in cream and cheese but I don’t know how I fooled myself into thinking it’d be super crispy on top. Still wonderful though.

Autumn is for hauntings

Autumn is a series of dreams remembered when you wake. The first, a dream within a dream, describing to a friend’s sister the way you traverse the streets, floating, flying several feet above the ground. The city is not yours, more old world, like a combination of Paris and Providence. The friend keeps trying to tug you back down; you don’t know why he insists on staying earthbound.

The second a giant studio/bedroom for you within a building set in a forest. You can watch different animals come and go through the two large windows set on two walls. Along another wall is a door with shutters and a row of thin windows with shutters that all face out into the hallway. A head pops in and says hello—another artist—but he does this with all the windows and you tell him how disconcerting it is. The bed is high up off the ground, tilted because it partly rests on a row of overturned chairs that, when taken away, turn into bicycle parts.

In the third, you are in Italy with your family. You arrive at a restaurant where the mussels are tasteless and the pasta nothing special except for its shape like old fashioned candies, oblong and frilled on the ends. Where are we, you ask, and your older sister says, we’re in Sicily. I thought the food would be better, you say carefully. She says she’s never been to this particular restaurant before. There is something wrong with the car which has an exposed engine. And then you think, oh, we were supposed to go to Italy in March but right now, it is autumn! We shouldn’t be here! Turns out your older sister forgot to make the fall cancellation and so here you guys all are, in Italy, with another Italy trip in the spring.

***

Rainy and gloomy here in New York, a drop of 30 degrees since Wednesday. My view, the building across the street, all wide windows and patio furniture. Thinking about thinking, about capturing a feeling, an atmosphere, on paper. Thinking about how to see that New England autumn foliage again, how it shocks you with its beauty, as though you’d never seen such a thing before. Thinking about the conference I went to last weekend at Brown on media and culture, the people I met, the inspiring way others move and think in the world. Thinking about time and then wondering when the Asian American Writers Workshop will post the video for the Tash Aw and Ruth Ozeki talk because damn, was that a good talk and I want to share it with everyone.

Back to work now.

summer/fall

Just a quick post to say: Hello! I’m still alive! But I’m working on a new website which is one reason why I haven’t really been posting here.

Anyway, now it’s fall, and I haven’t even updated since summer! Summer was lovely but went by way too fast. There were trips to Long Island and one long trip to Costa Rica (again!) complete with car misadventures, iguana sightings, and many many beaches on the Pacific coast.img_20160719_135403 img_20160722_154307 img_20160722_075156 img_20160724_080730

There were bicycle rides to the beach and museum outings and readings. And at the beginning of September, a trip to the midwest for family, friends, the Minnesota State Fair, then the most wonderful one week residency a girl could ask for at Tofte Lake Center at Norm’s Fish Camp. Loons and bald eagles and the Milky Way and s’mores with new friends and kayaking on a crystal clear lake. It was truly magical. p1140985 p1160040

This autumn is turning out to be pretty packed, too, with a new job and several new pieces coming out in some literary journals I really admire. Also, hey, I’m an artist-in-residence in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program! With my own studio and everything! So I think my work goals of finishing this collection early next year is definitely doable. I’m even already thinking about my next big project…

The Center for Fiction is creating a podcast!

As you may know, I was a 2014 fellow at The Center for Fiction in NYC, an awesome organization that supports readers and writers with great free events, a beautiful bookstore and library, and writing classes. The people working there are amazing and know everyone within the literary community.

Anyway, they’re holding a kickstarter to create a podcast series with a super diverse selection of talks by authors who have done events there in the past, such as Jennifer Egan, Jhumpa Lahiri, and E.L. Doctorow. With only 5 days to go, they still have to raise another $3500! Go support them here!

A Chemical Wedding

Friends! Small Beer Press, the amazing indie press run by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link have put up their first Kickstarter! They’d love to publish beautiful editions of A Chemical Wedding, a 400 year old story John Crowley called “the first science fiction novel.” Go support it here. They’re almost halfway there and only have 8 days left!

*Edited to add*
And they made it! Woohoo!

Q-Boro Literary Crawl

I’ll be reading at the Q-Boro Literary Crawl in Forest Hills this Thursday, 4/28 at Red Pipe Café on 71-60 Austin Street! I’m on the Queens Book Festival stage and will be the first reader on the 2nd leg, starting around 8:15pm. Come and join us for a night of readings, performances, food and drink specials, and an after-party! Tickets are currently $10 and can be found here—prices go up day of. All the proceeds go towards the 2016 Queens Book Festival, happening this summer.

Back to New York

Back in New York now after a long 14 hour flight from Shanghai. I’m feeling a bit of a sense of culture shock now that I’m back—where are the crowds? And the e-bikes? There’s so much diversity here! The roads in Brooklyn are potholed something awful and the single or double family homes around Jamaica are so much different from the skyscrapers and traditional housing of Shanghai. And here, you get a “Hey, beautiful,” instead of “Why aren’t you wearing a jacket? Aren’t you cold?!” (I prefer the latter, though.) It’s pretty warm here, too, and the magnolia trees are blooming! Two springs in one year—not bad. I can’t wait to start biking around.

But leaving Shanghai was pretty surreal and happened far too quickly. About three days before I left, I went to Suzhou for the day. SK and I peered down into wells and into a shop where a mechanized press printed sheet after sheet of material (is this how it works in the U.S. too?) We stumbled upon the bird and flower market where adorable ceramic flower pots and cacti in the shape of tiny rabbits were being sold, as well as turtles, pigeons, and puppies. On Pingjiang Rd, there were ice cream cones of different colors. Then it was time for the literary festival! It was lovely meeting Don and Lieve—Lieve was such a good storyteller that I barely had to say anything but it was a pleasure to listen to her. Afterwards, I read “Westward, Ever Westward” then had dinner with SK and Lieve before rushing off to the train station. Due to the traffic, we would’ve missed the train if it hadn’t been delayed an extra 10 minutes.
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As part of the residency, all of us artists have to leave a “trace” that is then put in Swatch’s virtual museum online and may be shown in one of their galleries. I really liked the end result of my trace, titled “Smoke Signals.” Here’s what I wrote about my trace and some photos!

Using joss paper as a medium, Smoke Signals reflects and complicates the Chinese tradition of burning joss paper as money for ancestors in the afterlife. The joss paper is one that my family always uses but instead of putting it to its traditional use, I inscribe the last two lines of a poem I wrote referring to the use and significance of it upon Chinese culture. Within the center is a Chinese translation of the poem, almost invisible except in certain lights. In this way, this work comments upon the hidden messages within this tradition—paper as smoke signals and currency, the invisibility of the Chinese text—as well as reflecting the poem’s message in a physical form, using traditional materials in a non-traditional format.
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Anyway, I’m really glad I did this residency—it was definitely a productive experience. I participated in one art show and two readings, wrote at least 5 short stories and a few smaller works, and met some amazing artists of all types from around the world. I’ll really miss a lot of my fellow residents—it was pretty hard saying goodbye when those I knew for three months left and only got harder with artists I’d known for longer. I know I’ll come back to China in the future—after living in China for almost two years in the last five years, I feel as though it’s my second home—but the artists I know will be scattered around the world. I suppose that gives me more of an excuse to travel, though! See you all someday in the near future!
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The Bookworm Literary Festival!

For all those interested, I’ll be moderating the last event called “On the Wings of the Dragon” at The Bookworm Literary Festival in Suzhou this weekend. The focus is actually on Lieve Joris’ work–she’s one of Europe’s leading non-fiction writers and will be talking about her journeys between Africa and China. 6:30pm on March 26th at The Bookworm in Suzhou! Afterwards, I might do a short reading at the Festival Party. If you’re in the area, come check it out!

I only just got back from visiting relatives in other, more mountainous areas of China. It was rainy but I still managed to go hiking around a few mountains (so green and lush! Palm trees and tall grasses and along the way, fields of rapeseed flowers glowing yellow in the gloom.) I also ate tons of delicious food, from homemade dumplings to hotpot to sweet&sour fish to clam noodle soup. It was a pretty great time although I’m saving my more complicated thoughts from the trip for an essay but here are a few photos.IMG_20160322_131322~2P1140610P1140790IMG_20160321_151044~2