Wednesday, September 16 at 7:00PM
FAMILY IN SIX TONES
by LAN CAO & HARLAN MARGARET VAN CAO
in conversation with ROBERT OLEN BUTLER
"A brilliant duet and a moving exploration of the American immigrant experience."
—Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
In 1975, thirteen-year-old Lan Cao boarded an airplane in Saigon and got off in a world where she faced hosts she had not met before, a language she didn't speak, and food she didn't recognize, with the faint hope that she would be able to go home soon. Lan fought her way through confusion, and racism, to become a successful lawyer and novelist. Four decades later, she faced the biggest challenge in her life: raising her daughter Harlan--half Vietnamese by birth and 100 percent American teenager by inclination. In their lyrical joint memoir, told in alternating voices, mother and daughter cross ages and ethnicities to tackle the hardest questions about assimilation, aspiration, and family.
Family in Six Tones speaks both to the unique struggles of refugees and to the universal tug-of-war between mothers and daughters. The journey of an immigrant--away from war and loss toward peace and a new life--and the journey of a mother raising a child to be secure and happy are both steep paths filled with detours and stumbling blocks. Through explosive fights and painful setbacks, mother and daughter search for a way to accept the past and face the future together.
LAN CAO & HARLAN VAN CAO
Lan Cao is the author of Monkey Bridge and The Lotus and the Storm. She is a professor of law at the Chapman University School of Law. Harlan Margaret Van Cao is preparing for freshman year at UCLA. She was born in Williamsburg, Virginia and moved to Southern California when she was ten. She has a beautiful singing voice and plays the violin and piano.
ROBERT OLEN BUTLER
Professor, MA, University of Iowa (1969) specializes in fiction and screenwriting. He is the author of sixteen novels and four collections of short stories. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and two National Magazine Awards, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and an NEA grant, as well as the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2013 he won the career-spanning F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.