By Ralph Beha, USCPFA-MN | contributor | September 2022
Chinese-American novelist Jamie Ford charmed his audience at an author event on the evening of Aug. 9, which featured his newly released novel “The Many Daughters of Afong Moy.”
Ford, whose Chinese forebears first came to the U.S. in the 1860s, warmed up the crowd by reading several amusing tweets and posts with student reactions to his earlier best-selling (debut) novel “House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” ˗ an “assigned reading” at many secondary schools.
“The Many Daughters of Afong Moy” has already received much acclaim; Jenna Bush Hager's book club "Read with Jenna" picked it up, and the "Indie Next" independent book store association site picked it as the "August 2022 #1 Great Read."
Ford is the great-grandson of a Nevada mining pioneer who immigrated to Tonopah, Nev., from Kaiping (Guangdong Province) in 1865. Min Chung changed his name to William Ford. Chung’s wife, Ford’s great-grandmother, was the first Chinese woman to own property in the state of Nevada. Ford’s mother is of European descent.
Ford described how his latest novel came to pass, and the process of being approached to appear on the “Today” show as a featured author. He read an excerpt from the new novel, and took questions from the audience on his writing process, navigating the publishing and book promotion world, and the role of his Chinese heritage in his work: Growing up around his father’s Cantonese restaurant, and in a Chinese-American household, he felt cut off from his roots once his father was gone. He was impelled to probe into his father’s childhood and life, his grandfather’s life story, and the Chinese-American experience as a way of connecting with his heritage and reaching a better understanding of himself as well.
After the reading, Ford graciously mingled with the attendees and personalized signed copies of his book, which were included in the price of the ticketed event.
The event, held at Grace Trinity Church in Minneapolis, was organized by Pamela Klinger-Horn of Valley Bookseller of Stillwater, with support from the Association of Sino-American Neocultural Exchange and the Minnesota Chapter of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association. Before the author presentation, guests enjoyed a social hour with chamber music performed by Mr. Ye Yu and his woodwind students, and Jarrelle Barton on the guzheng. Refreshments were generously provided by the Legendary Spice restaurant.