AUTHOR’S BIO

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017.

Ms. See wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000. That same year, she also curated the exhibition On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience at the Autry Museum. Ms. See then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum, an interactive space for children and their families that focused on Lisa’s bi-racial, bi-cultural family. The installation was up for twelve years. In 2003, she curated the inaugural exhibition—a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong—for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. In addition, she designed a walking tour of L.A.’s Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s Chinatown station. As a longtime trustee on the University of California Press Foundation, she endowed the Lisa See Endowment Fund in Southern California History and Culture.

KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman from the Akha tribe of China’s Yunnan province becomes a tea entrepreneur as her daughter grows up in California.

See explores another facet of Chinese culture, one that readers may find obscure but intriguing. Li-Yan, the only daughter of a tea-growing family, is a child of the Akha “ethnic minority,” as groups in China who are not of the Han majority are known. The Akha are governed by their beliefs in spirits, cleansing rituals, taboos, and the dictates of village shamans. As a teenager, circa 1988, Li-Yan witnesses the death of newborn twins, killed by their father as custom requires, because the Akha consider twin-ship a birth defect: such infants are branded “human rejects.” The Akha, inhabiting rugged, inaccessible terrain, have avoided the full brunt of China’s experiments in social engineering, including the Great Leap Forward and its resultant famine, the Cultural Revolution, and the One Child policy. Li-Yan’s family harvests mostly from wild tea trees as opposed to terraced bushes, and their product is discovered by a connoisseur, Huang, who will alter Li-Yan’s destiny. The Akha encourage youthful sexual experimentation, but progeny outside marriage are automatically “rejects.” So when Li-Yan discovers she is pregnant by her absent fiance, San-pa, she hides, with her mother’s help, in the secret grove of ancient tea trees which is her birthright. After the infant is born, Li-Yan journeys on foot to a town where she gives up her child. Over the next 20 years, we follow Li-Yan as she marries and is widowed, escapes her village, becomes a tea seller, and marries a wealthy recycling mogul, Jin. The couple moves to Pasadena. Intermittent dispatches inform readers that, unbeknownst to Li-Yan, her daughter, named Haley by her adoptive parents, is also in Pasadena. Haley’s challenges as a privileged American daughter pale in contrast to Li-Yan’s far more elemental concerns. Although representing exhaustive research on See’s part, and certainly engrossing, the extensive elucidation of international adoption, tea arcana, and Akha lore threatens to overwhelm the human drama.

Still, a riveting exercise in fictional anthropology.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is authentically read by a full cast, Ruthie Ann Miles , Kimiko Glenn , Alexandra Allwine , Gabra Zackman , Jeremy Bobb , Joy Osmanski , Emily Walton and Erin Wilhelmi, it is 14 hrs and 7 mins long.

Watch Interview with Daniel Suarez on YouTube.



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