Firstly, my story Wonderland is in the last issue of Day One! It was inspired by a trip to an abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Beijing that I went to one fateful Thanksgiving several years ago. You can read it here.
Right before the new year began, right after taking my midterms, I took a quick jaunt down to Taroko Gorge on the eastern side of Taiwan with ijl. I’d actually been before, about 5 years ago. Beautiful, of course, with its marble gorges and that clear blue water, but I’d forgotten how short the hikes were and how they peter out. This time the Baiyang trail was closed but the Shakadang trail was fully open–we dipped our hands in the water and watched tadpoles swim in a shallow pool on top of one of the giant boulders. We used our easycards to board the 302 bus which was much less crowded than the Taroko Gorge shuttle and cheaper too. We stayed near the national park itself, in Xincheng, which doesn’t have too much going for it, but we did end up stopping by the beach just to see the Pacific Ocean from this side.
We watched the fireworks from Taipei 101 from my roof. It didn’t last long so it was nice not to have to brave the crowds for a view. In the alley below, one of the small shop owners shot up some fireworks, their whistles screeching into the air, the colors blooming directly overhead.
I didn’t read enough in 2017 but there were some gems. I just recommended Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing to my Chinese teacher actually! Here’s my list:
1. A Thread of Sky- Deanna Fei
2. Sweetbitter- Stephanie Danzer
3. The Girls- Emma Cline
4. When Watched- Leopoldine Core
5. A Chemical Wedding- Christian Rosencreutz (Small Beer Press & John Crowley’s version)
6. The Vegetarian- Han Kang
7. Do Not Say We Have Nothing- Madeleine Thien
8. Soft Split- Szilvia Molnar
9. Four Books- Yan Lianke
10. Lincoln in the Bardo- George Saunders
11. Notes from a Small Island- Bill Bryson (NF)
12. In A Sunburned Country- Bill Bryson (NF)
13. The Wangs Vs. The World- Jade Chang
14. The Blue Sword- Robin McKinley (re-read)
15. The Paper Menagerie- Ken Liu
16. Monkey Business, issue 4
17. Upright Beasts- Lincoln Michel
18. The Refugees- Viet Thanh Nguyen
19. Isadora- Amelia Gray
20. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia- Mohsin Hamid
21. The Great Passage- Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
22. Goodbye, Vitamin- Rachel Khong
23. In the Country- Mia Alvar
24. POC Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination- edited by Nisi Shawl
25. Journey to the Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne
26. Butterflies in November- Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
27. The Leavers- Lisa Ko
28. Dreaming in Chinese- Debra Fallow (NF)
29. Alternative Remedies for Loss- Joanna Cantor
30. Fast Food Fiction Delivery- edited by Noelle Q. de Jesus & Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta
31. Chemistry- Weike Wang
32. Pachinko- Min Jin Lee
33. Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century- Richard McGregor (NF)
34. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate- Peter Wohlleben (NF)
The talented artist Rita Leduc and I met a bit less than a year ago as roommates in Splake at Tofte Lake Center in Minnesota. Inspired by the amazing experience there (that water! that sky!), we collaborated on a visual art/nonfiction piece titled Boundary/Waters for Alastria Press. You can see/read it here!
Bennington Review’s 3rd issue: Threats is out now but you can read my story “A Flock, A Siege, A Murmuration” online on their website! I’m really happy the way this story turned out; it was inspired by the bird flu outbreak in China in 2013.
Also, who knew Governor’s Island was as nice as this?
Red-spotted blackbirds, dragonflies hovering over lavender, urban vegetable gardens, chickens, biking for hours, hidden hammocks, hills, awesome playgrounds, perfect breezy weather, and a lovely view—what more could you ask for?
(Okay, the food selection could be better…!)
Take a look at my story “What Futures” in the People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination special issue! It’s about future Shanghai and belonging and it’s here! Thank you to Nisi Shawl for selecting it for this issue 🙂 You can read all the other wonderful writers’ work here.
In other news, I had a reading with the Asian American Arts Alliance last Wednesday, where I actually read What Futures! Here’s the video.
So it’s summer here now, and hot. There are wild blackberries and strawberries in Central Park but a recent thunderstorm knocked down some trees. The High Line has trees with pink fronds that prove nature=art. Ducklings are hanging out in the reservoir. I baked a vanilla pound cake that made me understand just why a vanilla bean pod is such a wonderful thing (although baking in the heat is not really recommended). If you like fun and ridiculous musicals with amazing vocals, check out Bella at Playwrights Horizons. If you want to get some more art in your life, check out LMCC’s River to River Festival (free!). If you’re not in NYC, maybe get on over here to enjoy the swampy subways and red hot cultural events?
Very excited that my weird short story, An Interlude: Pig River, won third place in the Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest! Take a gander at the story here!
And read about the other winners here!
Also, I’m a featured artist at the Asian American Arts Alliance Town Hall this month! Wednesday, June 21st, 6:45-8pm at the Mertz Gilmore Foundation at 218 East 18th Street in New York City. Info and RSVP here!
From LMCC’s Open Studios, a map of China inspiration:
Thank you to the many people who came (over 600 of you!) over the two days of Open Studios. What fun it was! Thanks to those who read my work, took copies, ate blueberry cake, drank tea, talked to me about China and folktales and writing. Hard to believe it’s over and that I’m saying goodbye to my studio here. It’s been a good seven months.
My story “Art Show” is up today in the spring issue of Nashville Review! Check it out here (and the rest of the issue here!) It’s very much inspired by the international art community and scene in Shanghai.
And to celebrate (and due to waking up early because of jetlag), I bought myself some pastries from Arcade Bakery. Maybe I should make this a habit every time I get something published?
Also, as an artist-in-residence in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program, I’ll be participating in Open Studios this month! Here are the details:
Friday, April 28, 6-9pm
Saturday, April 29, 1-8pm
28 Liberty Street- 24th floor, New York, NY
Come check it out! I can tell you that this batch of artists, writers, choreographers, and performers are pretty damn talented so if you’re interested in the arts at all, make your way down at the end of this month and feel free to invite everyone! RSVP here!
And it’s out in Day One! Check out the story here!
Or get a subscription to the weekly magazine—with poetry and interviews!
Was surprised and flattered to stumble upon this podcast in which two London writers talked about my story “What Is Lost”! They first discuss Amal El-Mohtar’s Seasons of Glass and Iron before discussing my story and nostalgia around 12:42. Check it out: Storyological 2.01
Also, I have one of my favorite stories that I’d written in Shanghai earlier this year coming out from Day One tomorrow! You can pre-order (or regular order tomorrow…) or get yourself a subscription to the magazine for like $1.59/month. For a lit mag that comes out weekly, it’s a pretty great deal. My story is called “Dream Machine” and is set in a factory on the outskirts of Shanghai. I’m so excited for this one and love the cover and Kate Peterson’s poem which shares the pages of this issue with me.
I’ve just returned from AWP in DC this last weekend and had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new people, talking to literary magazines and going to panels. Helping out the Center for Fiction was surprisingly fun and I was able to say hello to Gavin at Small Beer Press and the folks at Tin House where I’m a reader. Listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (so poised, so elegant!) speak with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Emma Straub and Ann Patchett, saw Roxanne Gay just hanging out at the hotel bar— you know, just normal writing conference life. Also, ate way too many biscuits at A Baked Joint because they were SO GOOD (and spicy!) All in all, a fun and educational break.
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!