Last week, Kaya celebrated the work of Asian American author H. T. Tsiang, in honor of Kaya’s most recent reprint of his work, And China Has Hands, edited by Floyd Cheung. We hosted two events, both of which featured readings by authors whose work is in conversation with Tsiang’s. Both were energetic and inspiring and we hope to continue to develop community and create discussion. If you missed either one (or are feeling particularly nostalgic), here’s what happened!
This Wednesday, Kaya hosted an event at USC that celebrated the life and work of eccentric writer and actor, H.T. Tsiang. Prominent Asian American creative scholars Floyd Cheung and Hua Hsu, author of A Floating Chinaman, facilitated the discussion with around twenty students and faculty in attendance.
The event began with a short clip of the Hollywood movies that Tsiang was featured in, introducing the face of the man who was a dynamic but forgotten player in the stage of Asian American history in the early to mid 1900s. Floyd Cheung then spoke on Tsiang’s history—how he was very much part of the political/activist realm in China, and came to America because of Chiang Kai Shek’s purge on those who were against his leadership of the Nationalist Party. Cheung also asserted the importance of discovering and then recovering hidden writers like Tsiang, who wrote about what it meant to be an Asian American before even the term “Asian American” was coined. Hua Hsu continued the discourse of American fascination with China that was reflected through the enthusiastic response toward Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. Most of the writing published was about foreigners who visited China; not many people wondered: “What do the Chinese immigrants think?” H.T. Tsiang was one of the few voices that addressed this question, and challenged the popular norms through his self-published novels.
On Thursday, October 20th we celebrated the soft launch of Otros Libros, Kaya’s new shared storefront space with Tiny Splendor and Seite Books, in perhaps the most #Lit way possible. By conjuring up the spirit of H.T. Tsiang and having some of our favorite writers read in honor of his efforts in literary revolution.
Before the event we headed over to H.T. Tsiang’s grave in Evergreen Cemetery where we had a special ceremony for him complete with Russian Vodka and bags of Cheetos.
Kaya author Ed Lin (Waylaid, This Is a Bust) hosted the event for us and provided rock solid introductions for Floyd Cheung, Sesshu Foster, Iris De Anda, Kima Jones and Jen Hofer who all read excerpts from
Tsiang’s new book, And China Has Hands, before dropping some gems from their own work.
Seite Books was also there selling some of their amazing literary collection and Tiny Splendor supplied an
awe inspiring gallery of some of their greatest risograph zines.
It was fascinating learning about H.T. Tsiang’s history and accomplishments. One thing that resonated was the intention that Tsiang had in writing—he was determined to change the world and bring about revolution through his words. In a way, he did. Hopefully, readers and scholars will continue his and many others’ legacy of the telling of the immigrant story and believing in the power of words.
And China Has Hands will be available widely on November 16th, 2016.