Dorothy O. Helly Lecture: Ava Chin, "The Way to Mott Street"
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Open to the Public
Presented in collaboration with Women Writing Women's Lives (WWWL)
Ava Chin will address the challenges faced in writing her forthcoming memoir, Mott Street – challenges which included the impact of the Chinese Exclusion laws on four generations of her family in NYC’s Chinatown, and the task of how to thread a narrative together where the historical scope includes many eras and generations. How does one write a nonfiction book when the official record is a kind of fiction, heavily biased against one's subjects, or simply nonexistent due to negligence, discrimination, or a combination of both? How does the author weave nearly five decades of research into a single narrative? What are the criteria for inclusions and exclusions?
She will also address how the changing political climate in America, including the recent attacks on Asian Americans, affected her writing.
About the Author
Ava Chin is the author of the forthcoming memoir Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming (Penguin Press, April 2023) and the award-winning Eating Wildly (Simon & Schuster, 2014), which won the 2015 M.F.K. Fisher Book Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times (“Urban Forager”), The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, and Saveur, among others. She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the NYPL’s Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.
Chin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, an M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. from Queens College. The Huffington Post named her one of "9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading." Ava Chin is an associate professor of creative nonfiction in the Program in Biography and Memoir at the Graduate Center and at the College of Staten Island.