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The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is excited to announce the 2013 Common Reading Experience selection:
The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir
by Kao Kalia Yang
We are thrilled to announce that Kao Kalia Yang’s The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir has been selected as UW-Milwaukee’s 2013 Common Reading Experience book. Entering first-year students will receive the book at New Student Orientation this summer. Discussions with faculty members will be held during Fall Welcome August 29-31, 2013. The author will give a lecture on October 16, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Union Wisconsin Room.
"I am so happy that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has selected The Latehomecomer as its 2013 fall common book,” said Kao Kalia Yang. “I believe this is the first time a Hmong-authored book has been selected by such a huge university for such a big reading audience. I am excited to visit the University, meet some of its students, speak to its population about the story that I come from and the stories that live inside all of us."
Telling the story of Yang’s family journey from Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp to St. Paul, Minnesota, the memoir offers a personal account of the Hmong diaspora by recounting Yang’s family’s difficult escape from Laos, their life in the refugee camps, and the challenges and opportunities that they faced after immigrating to America. It is a compelling account with rich prose, thoughtful and loving descriptions of Yang’s family members, and interesting details that stick with readers long after they put the book down.
The selection committee believes that this book will not only help teach students about Hmong history and culture, but also about Wisconsin which is home to the third largest Hmong-American community in the country. Raising questions about home, family, identity, education, cultural assimilation, immigration, writing, and history, the book is well suited for freshman students who are learning to navigate a new educational environment. The book will help showcase existing curricular programs at UW-Milwaukee, such as the Hmong Diaspora Studies program, and generate exciting and important discussions among students, faculty, and staff.
This is the second year of the Common Reading Experience at UW-Milwaukee. The 2012 selection was “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. The Common Reading Experience is co-sponsored by the Student Success Center and the Center for Instructional and Professional Development.
The selection committee consisted of Mary Mullen, Center for 21st Century Studies, Faculty Chair; Liz Boyna, Student Success Center Graduate Assistant; Anita Alkhas, FICL, Faculty; Liam Callanan, English, Faculty; Jennifer Smith, Political Science, Faculty; Ciera Lewis, Student Success Center Mentor; Micheal Hamilton, Student Success Center Mentor; Mike McGee, Resident Assistant; Kyle Christensen, Resident Assistant; Quinn Madson, University Relations; Mark Eckman, Center for International Education; Sarah Morgan, Nursing; Ericca Pollack, Director of Student Success Center; Tony Ciccone, Director, Center for Instructional and Professional Development.
Questions about the program can be directed to Ericca Pollack, Director of the Student Success Center at 414-229-6760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Book
What are the memories that shape the life experiences of Hmong refugees and first-generation Hmong Americans?
What was life like for the Hmong people of Laos after the CIA left? What was it like growing up in a Hmong family staying in a refugee camp in Thailand? What were some of the social and cultural considerations affecting people’s decisions about whether or not to come to the U.S.? How do the life experiences of their parents and grandparents shape the identities of younger Hmong Americans? All of these are questions Kao Kalia Yang takes us through as she reflects on her own life, the life of her parents, and their incredible and heartbreaking journey from war-torn Laos to the upper Midwest.
Many stories like hers are waiting to be told. We are hopeful that they can and will be told with the courage and the creativity required to do what Yang has done: bringing truth to the world, one book at a time.
“(W)e will build a strong home that we will never leave and can always return to. We will not be lost and looking our whole lives through” (p.268).
Watch the Trailer!
Learn more about The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir
Interviews with the Author, Kao Kalia Yang:
What others are saying:
Hear from Kao Kalia Yang:“A People Without a Home: The US Secret War in Laos”
Hear more:The Science of Racism: Radiolab’s Treatment of Hmong Experience
The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir By Kao Kalia Yang. 2008. Coffeehouse Press, Minneapolis. 320 pp. Reviewed by Vincent K. Her, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, and Mary Louise Buley-Meissner, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.