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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Asian authors read from their works

The American experience differs for everyone, yet somehow remains thoroughly universal. This was a theme presented throughout the 2005 Literary Caravan, which was held last night in the Union in front of a crowd of over 100 people.

The Caravan was brought to campus thanks to the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. The Workshop is a nonprofit literary arts organization based in New York.

The goal of the Caravan is to bring a diverse group of Asian authors to campuses across the country.

“It is a great way to bring Asian writers to a campus who wouldn’t normally get a chance to hear these kinds of authors speak,” said Brad Pribe, treasurer of Asian Communities United, one of the sponsors of the Caravan.

Other sponsors included Ethnic Cultural Arts Program, the Mid-American Review, American Culture Studies, Asian Studies, the English Department, the Creative Writing Department, Telecommunications, Chinese Club, Japanese Club and the Diversity Leadership Team.

“To me it was very important because it is the very first time that I’ve been asked to read based on my Chinese heritage,” said Brian Leung, who read from his collection of short stories, “World Famous Love Acts.”

However, one of the most interesting aspects of the Caravan is that the stories were not strictly about growing up with any particular ethnic heritage. They were just about growing up.

The biggest crowd pleaser of the night, N. Rain Noe, had more in common with Woody Allen than most short white Jewish New Yorkers could ever dream of. A self depricating neurotic from the heart of New York, Noe began by apologizing profusely to the audience.

“I want to apologize ’cause I know you guys can’t see me behind this podium, I want to apologize for wearing a sweater that comoflauges with the podium and I want to apologize for being short. Its completely my fault and its inconsiderate of me,” Noe said.

Noe, who has bounced around from a variety of jobs from ambulance driver to English teacher told universal stories about growing up in an Italian neighborhood, the struggle of not knowing what you want to do with your life and the struggle with pleasing your parents.

Leung read a short story dealing with emptiness and loss, things not exclusive to Chinese American, or even Americans. “There are feelings of lonliness and abandonment,” Leung said. “Its about the decisions we make and about what we do when someone is absent in our lives.”

Jennifer Tseng, who was reading a collection of poems and short stories said the only bad thing about her experience was a trip from sunny California to cold and windy Bowling Green. “Traveling to the area was horrendous, but the experience was so great … It was amazing to see this large room being filled with people who wanted to hear poetry and fiction.”

Tseng’s poems were about life’s tragedies and the experience of growing up. There was often a dichotomy in her work between characters that were very much alike, but also different. “I did have this experience growing up in a predominately white town with a white mother and a Chinese father,” said Tseng, “I always saw things with a mainstream eye and ear, but then I would always see things and think ‘What would my dad think about this?'”

According to many in attendence the night exceeded expectations. Competing with Yolanda King, who was speaking right across the hall in the Union, and coming off of a disappointing turnout last year due to bad weather many didn’t know what to expect.

“Last year it was mostly club members, some of the readers were boring, but this year was really good,” said, Amanda Griggs, a member of ACU.

Griggs was most impressed with Leung’s short story about an old man dealing with loss and mistakes that could not be unmade. “I can’t wait to read the rest of his book, Griggs said.

For most, it is hard to describe the trials and tribulations of life. As a character said in Leung’s chosen short story, “Its like reading a sentence and arriving at a comma with nothing after it.” However, some people can move on from the comma and fill in the blank. Through humor, poetry, of fictional story the writers of the Literary Caravan were able to describe the struggles of life not just as Asian Americans, but as Americans.

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