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Vanessa Hua
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My editing advice, in a Q&A for the Aspen Institute:

"If you’re feeling stuck, take some time away and return with fresh eyes. Read other books and study their dialogue, their structure, and everything you can mine that resonates with your work.
Read other books and study their dialogue, their structure, and everything you can mine that resonates with your work.
Find trusted readers, but not too many because that can lead to conflicting advice. And remember—no one cares as much as you do. Sounds depressing, but to me, it’s empowering to realize how much of your work is on you. You must do whatever you can to birth your best work, and later on, to publicize it."

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“The stories Hua presents are remarkably varied — complicating blanket stereotypes about ethnic cultures…Those kinds of subtle contradictions between overlapping identities — and the compromise they require — are what Hua's stories pinpoint and gracefully unravel.”

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From the San Francisco Chronicle: "Christine Sneed
By Dawn RaffelOctober 5, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2016 9:19pm

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Anne Raeff Photo: Dennis Hearne
Photo: Dennis Hearne
IMAGE 4 OF 8 Anne Raeff
Ninety-Nine Stories of God

By Joy Williams

(Tin House; 151 pages; $19.95)

The poetic logic of Williams’ stories is evident from the first page of her collection’s opening story, “Postcard.” A woman sends the titular card to the last known address of her late mother. Within a week, she receives an envelope in the mail, addressed in her mother’s hand: “Even the green ink her mother favored was the same.” But the letter goes unopened, retaining its tantalizing mystery.


Ninety-eight bite-size, paradigm-warping tales follow, with ordinary people (an elderly wedding crasher, a dog breeder, a shoplifter) and also Kafka, Tolstoy, O.J. Simpson, Abraham and Sarah, grappling with a divinely edgy reality.

Not many writers can launch a premise like “The Lord was in line at the pharmacy counter waiting to get His shingles shot” without falling into gimmickry, but Williams — long known as a master story writer — twists the scenario to an eerily moving effect. In manipulating our most deeply rooted expectations, shooting them through a prism of irony and wonder, she has created a cockeyed book of common prayer. Each piece is titled at its end, the better to clamp itself onto your psyche.

Deceit and Other Possibilities

By Vanessa Hua

(Willow Books; 149 pages; $18.95)

The men, women and children in Hua’s moving debut often find themselves straddling the volatile fault lines between desire and shame, decorum and rage. In “Line, Please,” a Chinese American San Franciscan turned Hong Kong media star finds himself embroiled in a humiliating sex scandal. He stumbles home to hide in plain sight, moving back in with his parents, catching the eye of a girl he used to know — only to make a spectacular but ultimately self-aware mess. In “What We Have Is What We Need,” a Mexican American boy uses the breaking-and-entering skills learned from his honest locksmith father after he catches his mother in an affair. And in “Accepted,” a Korean American woman, rejected from Stanford, goes to elaborate lengths to pretend she got in, until her deception turns violent.

Throughout these stories, first-generation children confront cultural differences with their immigrant parents and their American lovers, longing — as everyone does — for authentic connection. Hua, a Chronicle columnist, has a sharp eye for character (a bedraggled airline traveler resembles “a lapdog gone missing from its designer tote”) and a wry awareness of the digital age (“My neck feels strange upright instead of tilted in prayer over my phone”). Above all, she has a deep understanding of the pressure of submerged emotions and polite, face-saving deceptions. The truth comes out, sometimes explosively, sometimes in a quiet act of courage."

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"Family, loyalty, love, lust: Vanessa Hua does justice to the big themes in this noteworthy debut."

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I write about the fallout of income inequality on educational achievement, health, and more in the latest issue of Pacific Standard

https://psmag.com/the-new-american-inequality-3fa63903849#.k9lihdtpf
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9/19/16
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