p .main-container #login input[type=text], .main-container #login input[type=password] .main-container #login input[type=text] .main-container #login input[type=password] .main-container #login div .main-container .remember-forgot .main-container .main-container .main-container #login div label .main-container button .main-container #social .main-container #social span .main-container #social span.facebook .main-container #social span.google .main-container #social span.twitter .main-container #social span.yahoo .main-container .main-container .and elsewhere, and she has been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the Hopwood Award, and a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.If the Lee family were living today, do you think they could have faced similar forms of discrimination? An early Goodreads commenter remarked that the racism in the book was unbelievable—she felt it might have been realistic “in the 1920s, maybe, but not in the 1970s.” And at one of the first readings I did, someone asked, “How did you research the racism?” The sad truth is that I didn’t need to do a lot of research on that front: with one exception, every racially-tinged encounter in the novel—from the more outright discrimination to the many microaggressions, intentional or not—is something that’s happened to me, to family, or to someone I know personally.It made them a family outside not just one culture, but outside two, and that double displacement was interesting to me.When I started to think of the characters that way, many elements of the story clicked into place, which is usually a sign that the story is on the right track.
James, on the other hand, identifies with Nath—and for him, that’s not a positive feeling.Frederick Busch, whom I met at the University of Michigan, said that he always wrote about what terrified him most, and as a man who’d been married for decades, that was divorce or losing a spouse. In my earliest conception of this story, I hadn’t really considered race; in my head, they were just .Ever since I was a child—and still, actually—the most terrifying thing I can imagine is losing someone you love. Then a mentor asked about the ethnicity of the characters, and I started to realize that many of the feelings of being an outsider made a lot of sense if the father of the family were Asian, and the family mixed.When I was reading , I felt as if the Lee family’s sorrows could easily have been my own. I’m always drawn to tragedies, because I’m fascinated by how people react. How did you decide to write about an AMWF (Asian Male, White Female) relationship?
I think many writers are drawn to write about their fears as a way of domesticating—or at least managing—them. I didn’t sit down and consciously make that decision.Someone recently asked if I’d purposely made the father Asian, as opposed to the mother, in order to avoid the “Tiger Mom” stereotype.