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Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant

Speaker

Curtis Chin

Book talk on Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant by Curtis Chin, co-founder of the Asian American Writers Workshop.

The author will discuss his experiences growing up queer and Asian in the Midwest. First event in a mini-series on "Diasporic Chinese Foodways."

About the book:

Nineteen eighties Detroit was a volatile place to live, but above the fray stood a safe haven: Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine, where anyone—from the city’s first Black mayor to the local drag queens, from a big-time Hollywood star to elderly Jewish couples—could sit down for a warm, home-cooked meal. Here was where, beneath a bright-red awning and surrounded by his multigenerational family, filmmaker and activist Curtis Chin came of age; where he learned to embrace his identity as a gay ABC, or American-born Chinese; where he navigated the divided city’s spiraling misfortunes; and where—between helpings of almond boneless chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, and some of his own, less-savory culinary concoctions—he realized just how much he had to offer to the world, to his beloved family, and to himself.

Served up by the cofounder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and structured around the very menu that graced the tables of Chung’s, Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant is both a memoir and an invitation: to step inside one boy’s childhood oasis, scoot into a vinyl booth, and grow up with him—and perhaps even share something off the secret menu.

"Vivid, moving, funny, and heartfelt, Curtis Chin’s memoir showcases his talents as an activist and a storyteller. This is one man’s story of growing up gay, Chinese American, and working class in 1980s Detroit, finding a place in a large and loving immigrant family and in a changing city—and in doing so, carving out a place in the world for himself."

—Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers

About the speaker:

A cofounder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York City, Curtis Chin served as the nonprofit’s first executive director. He went on to write for network television before transitioning to social-justice documentaries. Chin has screened his films at over six hundred venues in sixteen countries. He has written for CNN, Bon Appétit, and the Boston Globe’s Emancipator. A graduate of the University of Michigan and a former visiting scholar at New York University, Chin has received awards from ABC/Disney Television, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and more.

Co-sponsored by the Asian American and Diaspora Studies program, East Asian and Diaspora Studies graduate working group, and the Taiwan Studies Workshop