How My Dad Got His Cool On

Jacob Kim broadcasting on the radio 1950s

The True Story of the PTA Scene in THE KINSHIP OF SECRETS The day after my father attended a PTA meeting at my high school, a teacher stopped me in the hall. “Your father is a remarkable man,” she said. I thought my father, who rarely went to PTA meetings, […]

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Check out this interview with author and Washington Post book critic Bethanne Patrick. We chatted about lots of things having to do with books and writing. This video pilot is meant to be part of a series called “Booked.” So please dip in for tidbits about writing The Calligrapher’s Daughter […]

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“Waiting for the Book to Come Out”

Cat on book engraving

When Phillip Lopate wrote an essay of this title (found in his collection, Against Joie de Vivre), he had already published several books. As I await my second novel’s release, everything he says in the essay is fresh and true, and I dread the idea that it would be equally […]

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Orange Peels and Oz

Wizard of Oz book - photo by Suzanne Harrison

I was the youngest of six kids in a Korean immigrant family. There were eight of us in a two-bedroom house in Takoma Park, just north of Washington, DC. Outside of school and church duties, we five girls mostly spent our spare time helping my mother make kimchee, which she […]

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Music, Improvisation, and Writing

A while ago my son and I went to a DC jazz club to hear the young group, Slumgum, whose pianist, Rory Cowal, is the son of a friend. The musicians at the time on tenor sax (Jon Armstrong), piano, bass (David Tranchina) and drums (Trevor Anderies) produced a vital […]

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Five Pages by a Fruit Bowl

Learning where to begin a story I’ll never forget Colm Tóibín’s presentation almost ten years ago at the bookstore Politics & Prose, preceding his reading of the novel, BROOKLYN. He said he he’d forbidden his writing students to use flashback. This remonstration was partly what influenced him to write BROOKLYN […]

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We Have Only One Story to Tell

I have struggled with the belief, not foreign to most writers, that I only have one story to tell. It’s why it took fifteen years to write my first novel; if I only have one story to tell, I thought I’d better tell it well. I remember a lecture by […]

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