Conversations from the Cullman Center: Stay True: Hua Hsu with Ken Chen
New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu talks about his new memoir, a story of intense friendship, senseless violence, and solace through art.
Hua Hsu, the son of Taiwanese immigrants who defined himself against mainstream America, kindled an unlikely friendship–built on late-night conversations and long drives along the California coast–with Ken, whose assimilated Japanese American family had been in the United States for generations. Grief-stricken when Ken was murdered in a carjacking, Hsu turned to writing. Now comes Stay True, Hsu’s bracing memoir about friendship, growing up, and moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging.
Hua Hsu wrote Stay True during his 2019–2020 Fellowship at the Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He will discuss the book with poet Ken Chen.
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ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker, and has written for Artforum, The Atlantic, and Slate, among other publications. He has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in criticism, and his work has been anthologized in Best Music Writing and Best African American Essays. A Professor of Literature at Bard College, he is also the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific.
Ken Chen is Associate Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College and the author of the poetry collection Juvenilia, which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and was a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library in 2019-20.
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The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Arts and Letters Foundation Inc., William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.