The Asian American Cultural Center recently organized its first-ever book club to familiarize Yale students with the literature and lives of Asian American authors.
In late January, the AACC opened sign-ups for the club, which they advertised as a way to engage with the works of Asian American authors. The club will alternate between discussing a book one week and hosting the book’s author on campus the following week. Each writer will host a public talk followed by a private dinner for club members. AACC Center historian pod staffer Cathy Duong ’22 said that student responses were overwhelmingly positive.
“We had 55 people sign up but were only able to accept around 14 people per author,” said Duong.
The club will welcome two authors — Sally Wen Mao and Leah Silvieus — to campus this semester, and 28 Yalies total will be able to partake in the book discussions and private dinners. She noted that funding contributed to the space limitations, as the AACC will provide the members the relevant books. In order to receive a book, each member had to guarantee that they would attend the internal book discussion the week before the author meet-up, which is also mandatory.
Duong stated that the AACC book club does not meet regularly as a traditional club would.
“We have two books where we’ll have a peer discussion, then [a] book talk for the public, and finally a private casual dinner with the author,” Duong said.
Although space limitations restrict the number of people who can attend peer discussion and the private dinners, both book talks will be open to the public at the AACC.
Mao and Cathy Park Hong were the two authors the book club initially advertised, but Duong revealed that Hong’s last-minute conflicts resulted in Silvieus being the second Asian American author the club will consider.
Despite this slight bump in the road, club members as well as the broader Yale community interviewed by the News said they look forward to meeting the authors.
Cam Do ’21 signed up for the book club, but she was unable to gain a spot on either list of 14. Still, she plans to attend the talks of each author, as there is no cap on these events.
“I love the idea of meeting and listening to inspirational and accomplished Asian American women,” Do said.
Their first meeting was last Wednesday, February 19th, and gave club members to share their thoughts on Mao’s book. AACC staffers Ananya Kumar-Banerjee ’21 and Eileen Huang ’22 facilitated this discussion, in which the 14 members discussed the work, which is a collection of poems that explore the concept of exile.
Huang said that Mao’s book talk will be held Friday, Feb. 28th. This first book talk by Mao is co-sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship, and will feature a reading, discussion and signing of “Oculus.”
“I wish I’d been able to get a book from the AACC for Mao to sign, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to still hear her speak,” said Do.
Mao was a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library and the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington at George Washington University.
Brooke Alviar | firstname.lastname@example.org