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The compassion creation business: Jamie Ford and ‘The Many Daughters of Afong Moy’

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This week on The Write Question, Lauren sits down (in the MTPR studios!) to chat with novelist Jamie Ford about The Many Daughters of Afong Moy. As Publisher's Weekly has put it, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy “concerns seven generations of women—all fictional descendants of Afong Moy, a real 19th-century figure, believed to be the first Chinese woman to come to America, who for years was exhibited at sideshows to paying crowds. In alternating chapters, Ford follows Afong Moy’s fictional descendants—among them a nurse serving with the Flying Tigers (a group of volunteer American pilots created to fight the Japanese invasion of China) in the 1940s and a Seattle poet in 2045—while exploring themes of inherited trauma, ancestral pain, and love.”

The novel has made its way onto the New York Times bestsellers list, is an American Booksellers Association #1 IndieNext pick for August 2022, and is the Read with Jenna August pick. Jamie is currently working with Jenna and UCP (Universal Studio Group) to make The Many Daughters of Afong Moy a television series.

About Jamie:

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name Ford, thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into thirty-five languages. Having grown up in Seattle, he now lives in Montana with his wife and a one-eyed pug.

Jamie Ford recommends:

Harlen Ellison’s short stories

Lauren Korn recommends:

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang (Flatiron Books)

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Ballantine Books)

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (Riverhead Books)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf)

The Mothers and The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett (Riverhead Books)

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Knopf Publishing Group)

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Chris Moyles, co-producer and editor; and Jake Birch, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at iamthemollruss.com and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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