ASIAN AMERICAN LITERARY AWARDS

Click here to read what Ishmael Reed, David Henry Hwang, Maxine Hong Kingston, and others have to say about Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jessica Hagedorn. Click to learn the finalists in the Fourteenth Annual Asian American Literary Awards in Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction. Click here to find out the Members' Choice award winner.


FICTION

Judged by novelist and AAWW co-founder Christina Chiu, Atlas of Unknowns author Tania James, and Whiting Writers' Award winner Nami Mun.

Winner in Fiction: Yiyun Li, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (Random House)

"The nine brilliant stories in Li's collection offer a frighteningly lucid vision of human fate. In the title story, motherless Siyu has long been in love with an older zoology professor, Dai, who suddenly wants Siyu, 38 and single, to marry Dai's gay 42-year-old son, Hanfeng. In "A Man Like Him," retired art teacher Fei embarks on a strange quest after reading a story about a Web site devoted to shaming a man who left his wife. The collection's magnificent centerpiece is "Kindness," the novella-length reminiscence of a spiritually despondent math teacher named Moyan, whose bleak story begins with the emotional starvation she suffered from her adoptive parents and grimly continues over the years as two older women--an English teacher and Moyan's army superior--attempt, unsuccessfully, to reach out to her. Li's description of army life, and particularly her description of Moyan's regiment's march across Mount Dabi, is a bravura piece of writing, but it's Moyan's evolution from pitiable to borderline heroic (in her own way) that is Li's greatest achievement." (Publishers Weekly)

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl is no less than amazing.  Each tale is perfectly compressed, poised, and yet embedded with a tension that ultimately explodes the story's surface in unexpected, and often unnerving, ways.” --Tania James

First Finalist in Fiction: Karen Tei Yamashita, I-Hotel (Coffee House Press)

I-Hotel is at once heartrending and hilarious, both political and personal. And perhaps most thankfully, the writing is wicked smart without a drop of pretentiousness. Filled with pages that take big risks, I-Hotel opens up new possibilities, not just for Asian American literature but also for contemporary fiction in general.--Nami Mun

Second Finalist in Fiction: Chang-rae Lee, The Surrendered (Riverhead Books)

The Surrendered seized me from its first unforgettable pages and never released its grip.  By deftly interlacing past and present, the saga develops an astonishing depth of field and pulls into sharp focus two broken individuals, bound to one another by the traumas of war.” --Tania James

Longlist: Gish Jen, World and Town (Borzoi) & Brian Leung, Take Me Home (Harper)


POETRY

Judged by Scripps College Professor Warren Liu, American Book Award winner Wing Tek Lum, and former Poet Laureate of Queens Ishle Yi Park.

Winner in Poetry: Kimiko Hahn, Toxic Flora (Norton)

Kimiko Hahn will read as part of the Poetry Showcase event and will receive the award at our Afterword Party.

"Hahn's eighth book of poems takes its inspiration from the science section of the New York Times. These sharp, gut-punching lyrics quote from and/or borrow the diction of science writing in order to investigate more personal issues, including the traumas of girlhood, adolescence, and family in general, as well as the intricacies of love. But the real thrill comes not from Hahn's personal revelations but from the ways they dovetail so surprisingly with contemporary scientific observations: "What does this demonstrate about toxins/ or residence?" she asks in the title poem, about a butterfly that has evolved poison to deter predators. Other poems meditate on water, the planets, and birds in what may be Hahn's best book to date." (Publishers Weekly)

“In Toxic Flora Kimiko Hahn has turned anthropomorphism on its head.  Instead of depictions of the natural world with human characteristics, she treats us to telling observations of orchids that are not what they seem, mothering squids and cowbirds, exploding stars and the gravitational pull of planets, and speculates on how their behaviors illumine ours—for better or for worse.  Hers is a humbling vision of the human condition within a wondrous universe, related in an assured voice laced with wise, wry humor.” --Wing Tek Lum

“What I found most impressive about Hahn’s book was its ability to tease out the typically invisible layers that connect us to the non-human objects around us, to clarify and visualize the connections between home and world, from the micro to the macro, from the moth to the comet.” --Warren Liu

"Toxic Flora is a taut, engaging work of art where Kimiko Hahn once again draws us into her alluring world with humor, grace, wisdom, and insight. A pleasure to read."--Ishle Yi Park

First Finalist in Poetry: Oliver de la Paz, Requiem for the Orchard (University of Akron Press)

“I loved the emphasis on departures and returns that thematically grounds Oliver de la Paz’s book; in these poems, the insistent past elbows its way into the present, both carving and lighting a path into the unknown future. The most moving poems, for me, were the ones that framed the past through a new father’s eyes, recovering from that past a moving hopefulness that turns an act of mourning into a song of celebration.” --Warren Liu

Second Finalist in Poetry: Molly Gaudry, We Take Me Apart (Mud Luscious Press)

“`[T]hread/for instance/which can be snapped in two with a quick pull / can also be wound into binding that cannot be broken,’ writes Molly Gaudry.  The same can be said for her poetry, at once both delicate and strong, and especially poignant are the life lessons the young protagonist learns from her mother. We Take Me Apart is a scissor-sharp fairytale in verse for adults.” --Wing Tek Lum

Longlist: Leslie C. Chang, Things That No Longer Delight Me (Fordham University Press); Shadab Zeest Hashmi, Baker of Tarifa (Poetic Maxtrix); Tan Lin, Seven Controlled Vocabularies (Wesleyan Press); Monica Youn, Ignatz (Four Way Books); Fay Chiang, 7 Continents 9 Lives (Bowery Books); Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Ocean Beach (Asian American Curriculum Project).

NON-FICTION

Judged by My Two Indias and Suburban Sahibs author S. Mitra Kalita, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor Martin F. Manalansan IV, and The Latehomecomer author Kao Kalia Yang.

Winner in Nonfiction: Amitava Kumar, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm, A Bomb (Duke University Press)

Amitava Kumar will read with novelist Hisham Matar in War and its Representations and will receive the award at our Afterword Party, presented by Suketu Mehta.

"Part reportage and part protest, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is an inquiry into the cultural logic and global repercussions of the war on terror. At its center are two men convicted in U.S. courts on terrorism-related charges: Hemant Lakhani, a seventy-year-old tried for attempting to sell a fake missile to an FBI informant, and Shahawar Matin Siraj, baited by the New York Police Department into a conspiracy to bomb a subway. In Amitava Kumar’s riveting account of their cases, Lakhani and Siraj emerge as epic bunglers, and the U.S. government as the creator of terror suspects to prosecute. Juxtaposing such stories of entrapment in the United States with narratives from India, another site of multiple terror attacks and state crackdowns, Kumar explores the harrowing experiences of ordinary people entangled in the war on terror." (Duke University Press)

“Amitava Kumar expertly weaves reportage, narrative and analysis in A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb through the stories of two convicted terrorists. In prose that packs punch, irony and humor, this book forces a reader to examine and question the global hunt for terrorists, and the motivations on both sides. It is brilliantly written and rendered.” --S. Mitra Kalita

“Here is a passionate and intellectually astute meditation on the dire consequences of xenophobic state surveillance and policing after 9/11. Kumar takes the reader to a sprawling landscape of people under siege with his sharp prose and poetic sensibility. Relentless in his pursuit of social symptoms and maladies, Amitava Kumar nevertheless does so in a way that provokes the reader to respond in capacious and thoughtful ways. This book is for our times.” --Martin F. Manalansan IV

“Amitava Kumar's A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a book about the atrocities of nations.  It is a moral argument for the complexity of identity beyond the stereotypes of fear. The work is a testament to the human perspective at its brightest, broadest and best, and the harrowing consequences when we choose not to see.” --Kao Kalia Yang

First Finalist in Nonfiction: Mae Ngai, The Lucky Ones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“Mae Ngai offers a wonderfully crafted and incisively researched narrative about the Tape family, a seemingly ordinary group of immigrant kinsfolks. This family story is more than just a chronicle of generations. The story is in fact a microcosmic tale of early Asian American history. The Tapes were instrumental in economic, political and cultural transformations that we now take for granted about Chinese immigration to the U.S. such as the emergence of Chinatown, the integration of schools and other important events. As such, Ngai is weaving a trenchant and captivating tale about the pivotal roles of Chinese Americans in building America.--Martin F. Manalansan IV

Second Finalist in Nonfiction: Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Hiroshima in the Morning (Feminist Press)

“Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's Hiroshima in the Morning is a gentle exploration of the aftermath of destruction--the forces that lead us away from our homes so that we may document and become anchors for others far from the shore of belonging.  It is a poetic rift of memory passed and passing.-- Kao Kalia Yang

Longlist: Neela Vaswani, You Have Given Me a Country (Sarabande Books), Jid Lee, To Kill a Tiger: A Memoir of Korea (The Overlook Press), & Eleana J. Kim, Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptee and the Politics of Belonging (Duke University Press)


MEMBERS' CHOICE

Initiated in 2000, the Members' Choice Award allows Workshop members to choose their favorite title of the previous publishing year. In order to participate in voting for this award, you must be a current member of The Asian American Writers' Workshop. Titles are only eligible for the Members' Choice Award if they have been entered in the Annual Asian American Literary Awards in one of the three categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry.

Winners of the Asian American MEmbers' Choice Award: ed lin, snakes can't run & Karen tei yamashita, i hotel

Ed Lin, snakes can't Run: a mystery (thomas dunne books)

"Set in New York City in 1976, Lin's accomplished second novel to feature NYPD detective Robert Chow (after 2007's This Is a Bust) finds the Chinese-American cop, who's still haunted by memories of his service in the Vietnam War, relegated to undercover work posing as a Con Ed worker. Meanwhile, other officers in Chow's precinct are focused on apprehending the FALN terrorists who set off a bomb right outside police headquarters. The murders of two Asian men, who are shot and dumped under the Manhattan Bridge, take Chow away from the drudgery of his undercover assignment and onto the trail of the head of a ring of human smugglers known as snakeheads. Lin portrays the police, including his lead, warts and all, and paints a convincing picture of Manhattan's Chinatown. Readers interested in the integration of Asian-Americans into American society, as well as those who like gritty procedurals, will be well rewarded." (Publishers Weekly)

 

winner of the asian american members' choice award: karen tei yamashita, i hotel (coffee house press)

"Focusing on the struggle for equality and peace as it involved this particular community, Yamashita's work incorporates a broad view of the Asian and Asian American experiences, from Japanese internment camps to the Marcos dictatorship. Yamashita accomplishes a dynamic feat of mimesis by throwing together achingly personal stories of lovers, old men, and orphaned children; able synopses of historical events and social upheaval; and public figures like Lenin and Malcolm X (Yamashita's opening line: "So I'm Water Cronkite, dig?"). Despite its experimental and fictionalized nature, the novel reads more like a patchwork oral history, determined to relate the facts of its setting and, more importantly, the feelings of it; with varied commingling of voices and formats (stream-of-consciousness, slangy first person, quotes, dossiers, academic papers, even written-out choreography), the narrative reads like a collection of primary sources." (Publishers Weekly)

 


HONORING JESSICA HAGEDORN

JESSICA HAGEDORN is the recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Asian American Writers' Workshop. Hagedorn was an early supporter of the Workshop before it even incorporated as a nonprofit. In fact, her novel Dogeaters debuted a year before the Workshop formed and, as Workshop co-founder Bino Realuyo says in our PAGE TURNER video, its bold vision inspired him to realize that Asian American literature (and the Workshop) were even possible. Poet-novelist, punk leader and provocateur, Hagedorn is the author of the new novel Toxicology, a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, and Dogeaters, a National Book Award nominated instant classic, which the New York Times Book Review described as a “fast, frequently hair-raising first novel... that maps the ruin at the heart of Philippine society in the last four decades.”

Hagedorn's landmark two-volume collection Charlie Chan is Dead: An Anthology of Asian American Fiction showcased two generations of writers, many of them published there for the first time: Chang-rae Lee, R. Zamora Linmark, Monique Truong, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Han Ong, Fae Myenne Ng and many others. This fall, she traveled to the Arizona border as part of the Workshop's CultureStrike delegation (above with Verso Editor Andrew Hsiao and AAWW Executive Director Ken Chen; photo by Teju Cole). As the novelist Russell Banks has said, “Jessica Hagedorn is one of the best of a generation of writers who are... in the process are creating a New American Literature.”

Hagedorn will be honored at a special dinner at Maharlika Filipino Moderno, a new hip East Village restaurant, on Thursday October 27, 2011 at 8PM. Tickets are available for purchase here.


Maxine Hong Kingston SAYS GRACE

As we honor Jessica Hagedorn for a lifetime of achievements, let's thank her for the gifts she's brought us with such great heart and jubilation and fun. Thank you, Jessica, for being a pioneer, a pioneer as an immigrant, and a pioneer as an avant-gardist opening up the way. You are avant-garde not only in writing and changing the novel and poetry but in enlivening the theater and music too. Thank you for enlarging the American language so that it includes our words and our accents. Your powerful voice singing and shouting-out awakens the world to hear our music, to hear us. Thank you for championing us, for supporting us, for your service as editor and teacher and social activist. Your communal spirit gathers brother and sister writers, and defines us as a hui, a sangha, a community of Asian American and Pacific Islander writers. We bow deeply to you, Jessica.

MAXINE HONG KINGSTON is Senior Lecturer Emerita at University of California, Berkeley & author of the National Book Award-winning classic Woman Warrior.


Shawn Wong CANNOT TELL HIS FAVORITE Jessica Memories

My fondest memories of Jessica Hagedorn can’t actually be told in detail, but here they are:

SHAWN WONG is co-editor of the landmark anthology Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, and author of Homebase and American Knees.

 

ROBERTO BEDOYA SWOONS OVER JESSICA HAGEDORN

Swoon Moments

1)    In the Mission back in the day before it was hip, I say to myself who
is this women, what is a gangster choir?  Swoon at first sight as I lean
into the words

2)    Stand-up bass on fire on a cover of book called "Dangerous Music" ­
Swoon again with thought and sensation

3)    Listening to attentions in them poems at the Intersection in North
Beach and St, Marks in the East Village, swooning that had me swaying to the
lyric in words that colored the world in a realness I knewŠ cuz Smokey is
getting old and there¹s  call to the clock it.

4)    Teenytown, Fe in the Desert, Dogeaters, the ensemble of voices on a
stage, playing it for swoons and waves inside how the complexity of the WE
in life that makes it full-bodied.

5)    Thank-you

Roberto Bedoya is Executive Director of Tucson Pima Arts Council, plaintiff in Karin Finley’s litigation against the National Endowment for the Arts, and author of U.S. Cultural Policy: Its Politics of Participation, Its Creative Potential.

 

Queen of Letters, BY Ishmael Reed

Her Dad left her family for a beauty queen. He didn't realize that he had left a beauty at home. A Queen. A Queen of Letters. When I was a kid, my idea of a woman poet was an old biddy like Emily Dickenson. Lucille Clifton tried to get me to enjoy her favorite poet but I couldn’t. By the 1960s things had changed. We didn't know about Gwen Brooks or Margaret Walker because we went to schools that taught that only Europeans were smart. We figured that all of the Asians, Hispanics were in Asia or South American and that Native Americans were created by the movies.

That all changed in 1960s. A cultural revolution began whose ripples we are still experiencing. Women like Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Nikki Giovanni , Carolyn Rodgers , Julia Fields and others began to elbow the men from the center. Alicia Ostriker’s manifesto “Stealing The Language” showed the similarity between the way women had been marginalized by mainstream book reviews and the way black men were treated.

The Renaissance that began as a result of the creation of Black Studies, which would never have occurred had not white students joined in on the protest, spread. The Hispanic Renaissance began with poets like Victor Cruz, who was 18 when his first book of poems was published. The West Coast saw the Asian American Renaissance. Al Young and I tried to capture this in our Yardbird Reader. Jessica was one of those featured in issue...

She and her friends Ntozake Shange and Thulani Davis developed the women’s revolution that began with their older poetic sisters, taking their poetry to the people. Reading in bars and in churches. In Jessica all of the revolutions were combined because she tapped into Hispanic, black, European trends, having been mentored by Kenneth Rexroth, and nurtured by Filipino culture.This gave her poetry color, variety, depth and verve. What verve. Dangerous Music from a poet who has always taken risks. A gangster. A gangster of the written word.

We began The American Book Awards to counter the other awards who, like my teachers, believe that only Europeans are smart. Jessica received one from us in 1990. Her mother came to the Keystone Corner Jazz in San Francisco to pick it up . She was a beauty too and it was at that moment that I decided that Jessica’s father had bad taste. And so now Jessica receives a Lifetime Achievement Award. A Queen of Letters.

How time flies. I remember the night Oct. 1974 when a little kid comes up to me after I had read a poem at Glide Memorial Church and the little kid says. Good Poem.

ISHMAEL REED is a two-time National Book Award Finalist, Pulitzer-nominated MacArthur Genius, the founder of the Before Columbus Foundation and the author of Mumbo Jumbo and Flight To Canada.

 

PATRICK ROSAL ON What It's Like to Work WITH JESSICA HAGEDORN

When one "works" with Jessica, one learns that work does not have to be an intrusion upon love, but the very expression of it. I've worked with Jessica several times over the years—among the most memorable instances is performing together at Bowery Poetry Club for a tribute to her friend and mentor Kenneth Rexroth. (Imagine being on the stage with these folks all at once: Quincy Troupe, Suheir Hammad, Bob Holman, and Jessica herself). A beautiful night of readings. The Iraq War had just reached its macabre mark of 2000 American soldiers dead; my nephew was about to leave for his first tour. We ended the evening with an unrehearsed group performance of Rexroth's "Thou Shalt Not Kill ", a poem that begins "They are murdering all the young men." It’s a powerful, soaring lamentation. I felt my voice growing in rapture with Quincy's, Suheir's, and Bob's. Suddenly Jessica gently pulled me away from the mic we were sharing and whispered to me, signaling with her hands, "You don't have to let it out all at once". Jessica, in a few words, with great kindness and wisdom, was giving me a lesson on what I might do with all my American rage; it was an excellent on-the-fly tutorial on how to craft silence. And I've never forgotten that. Wherever Jessica goes, laughter and ferocity (and on occasion, an excellent beverage) are not far off. I love her for her boldness, intelligence, wit. I’m grateful for her friendship.

PATRICK ROSAL is the winner of the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry and the author of Boneshepherds, My American Kundiman, and Headspin Scramble and Dive.

 

No Other Writer, Says PAUL YAMAZAKI

I cannot think of a writer who deserves this honor more than Jessica.  Her accomplishments as a writer and editor are known to us--perhaps not as well known is her activism and encouragement on the behalf of Asian Americans writers. My thoughts and best wishes to Jessica!

PAUL YAMAZAKI is a fixture in the San Francisco literary scene and the chief book buyer for independent bookstore City Lights.


Dear Jessica, It's Nicky Paraiso

I can never remember when I first met Jessica, although it must have been the tail-end of the 70s or certainly in the early 80s.

I had been hearing so much from Robbie McCauley about this beautiful, dangerous Filipina named Jessica Hagedorn who was in residence at the Public Theater with a play called Mango Tango, who, said Robbie, could be my “Filipina writer/sister,” this fabulous poet, playwright, Gangster Choir lead-singer, performance artist from the Philippines (via San Francisco) that I just had to meet. Well people, we met, and my life has never been the same since.

I can proudly say that I became a writer thanks to Jessica’s inspiration. She has been mentor, colleague, advocate, friend, artistic soulmate.

In respectful homage to our cultural idols Andy Warhol and Nico (the Velvet Underground’s original chanteuse/muse in the late ‘60s), we address each other’s emails with those respective nom des plumes. A personal chronicling of our contemporary artistic downtown community. It might be a book of memoirs someday.

Dear colleagues, friends and readers of all persuasions: come and get these memories while you can.

Salamat Jessica, por siempre y para siempre,

Nicky.

Nicky Paraiso, actor, writer, musician, performance artist, is currently the Programming Director for the Club at La MaMa; he is also Curator for the annual La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival.


David Henry Hwang On the Coolest, hottest girl he ever met

When I came to NY from California for my first play, FOB, I was a 24 year-old beanpole-skinny Asian American geek with unfortunate hair. Jessica was not only a brilliant, groundbreaking artist, but the coolest, hottest girl I'd ever met. And yet, she was so nice to me! Taking me into her circle of hyper-talented friends, encouraging my writing, and telling me ignore the criticisms from Frank Chin. I will always love and be grateful to Jessica for making me feel like I had found a home in the Big City.

DAVID HENRY HWANG is the Tony award-winning, Pulitzer-nominated playwright of M.Butterfly & Chinglish, now on Broadway.


Kimiko Hahn: Recollections of Jessica Not In Any Particular Order

Lead singer in The Gangster Choir, all three holding forth in satin dresses that malfunctioned on purpose (btw, not hers!);
baby in utero named Spike;
yellow blankie and a leopard-print swim suit from her toddler daughter to mine;
apartment in the Jane Street police station; that a number of Filipinos did not approve of the title Dogeaters;
then there's Dangerous Music, Pet Food and Tropical Apparitions, Mango Tango,
Teenytown, --and so on;
superlative hair product;
in a small airplane to Ithaca with several other Asian American writers, I tell her that title

to David's manuscript, Turning Japanese, means jerking off and Jessica says,
"David, did you know that the title means jerking off--?" and he said he didn't but
really liked that it did;

her book party at Cendrillon, the heady fragrance of Filipino appetizers;
to an audience member who was talking about her novel for his lit class she replied—
something like—“I hope you're having fun!”
LIU reception, bookended by her two daughters— all three brimming with radiance;
di ba?;
and just last week—red wine at Café Loup with Marilyn, Meena and me dishing—
yeah—

KIMIKO HAHN is the American Book Award-winning author of seven poetry collections and this year’s winner of the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry.


Yes I Did Stalk Her, Says R. Zamora Linmark

Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Yes, I did stalk your guest of honor, in 1990, October, to be exact. I was an undergraduate Lit major at the University of Hawaii. But I stalked her only once, and I was not alone. It was a group effort. I was assisted by my classmates and writing buddies Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Justin Chin, Lisa Asagi, Malia Lagaso, and Lori Takayesu. Together, we came up with a plan that went beyond standing in the background and, giggling, asking her to sign our books, then skittering back with our hearts in our throats to our mouse holes. Oh, no. We had planned to be her bodyguards, tour her around the island, feed her the 1001 types of Spam musubis, and cool her down with rainbow-colored shave ice. That’s how much we loved her writing – edgy, straight-to-the-pain, rebellious, dangerous, critical, gorgeous. She was one of our literary role models, our Asian American Satin Sister.

I had read more than once Dangerous Music and Pet Food & Other Tropical Apparitions, but it was her novel Dogeaters that blew me away – as an aspiring writer and as a Filipino who, like the protagonist Rio, had left the Philippines when I was young but not young enough to forget everything. I couldn’t put it down, this book that was as much about home as it was about the soul that craves for lack of it. Never had I come across a work of fiction that had affected me on several levels. It was as if it knew me, my hidden history, the tiny provincial town I had come from, and the sadness and dreams that plagued it. Never had I encountered an imagined world in constant dialogue with my childhood memories. Reading it, I realized, I was no longer alone in my own homesickness. It gave me another way of looking at home, identity, hope. It was also an invitation for me to write my own stories, for Dogeaters had that artistic impact. It inspired me to further pursue this migraine-of-a-passion called writing, to revisit my memories, however way I want to reinvent them.

So you could just imagine what was going in my mind when I finally came face to face with the writer responsible for unleashing my memories, wanted and not. I stood there, a train wreck in progress, on mute, in awe. I recited to her the brief introduction I had written down and memorized. I told her I was one of Faye Kicknosway’s students, that I, too, was from the Philippines, that I want to become a writer like her and someday write my own Dogeaters, when all I wanted and needed to say was: Thank you. I don’t remember what happened next, if she smiled or if I cried or if the pro-Marcos couple had us both arrested. What I do remember and what matters came soon after: she had invited our writing group, her stalkers, as her guests to the dinner party organized by Wing Tek Lum and other Bamboo Ridge writers.

That’s my first memory of Jessica, accompanied by a book that means a lot to me. Another episode is the time she, the actress Ching Valdes, and I stayed at a lakefront hotel where we were the only visitors in a street lined with resorts because it was right in the middle of a jungle rife with kidnappers, terrorists, and a tribe that allegedly dated back to the Stone Age. The hotel also had a menu where every other word was “tilapia”. But, like I said, that’s another memory and, well, you only asked for one!

R. ZAMORA LINMARK is a poet, playwright, novelist and the author of Rolling the R’s, Prime Time Apparitions, Evolutions of a Sigh, and Leche.