I know that area – I have friends who live very close to there. I am so glad you enjoyed my book and I really hope you like Mambo as well! Please keep an eye out for Kimberly, who makes a tiny appearance in Mambo in Chinatown along with a mystery love interest. I really appreciate your taking the time to get in touch and let me know. I’m in the midst of finishing my third novel so it’s wonderful to hear your encouraging words right now! Warmly, Jean
My name is Michele but my friends call me “Shelley”. I live in New York State. Mid-Hudson area. Rockland
County Area.Spring Valley, NY. You can look it up on the map if you like. Anyways,I wanted to tell you that,
I just finished your book “Girl in Translation” and I absolutely loved it! Words can’t describe how your book
left me feeling.It hit the cord of “My Soul”, truly. I also. wanted to tell you that, I just took out of my library,
“Mambo in Chinatown: A Novel. I am very eager to start reading it, tonight!
Lastly, I just want to thank you for your books. They have touch many lives across the world. So, again,
How interesting to hear your story! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book and that Kimberly’s story spoke to you. There are so many things that immigrants have in common and how fascinating that you moved from Beijing to Canada to Switzerland. Quite similar to my trajectory from Hong Kong to New York to the Netherlands. Thank you so much for getting in touch and letting me know you enjoyed my work. I’m wishing you all the best, Helen! Jean
my name is Helen. I was born in Beijing and moved to Canada when I was 6 years old with my parents. I now live in Switzerland and am doing my studies here. On this quiet Saturday morning, I just finished ‘Girl in Translation’ for the second time and wanted to tell you how deeply your writing moves me. So many parts of Kimberly remind me of myself when I went to school for the first time in Canada, understanding bits and fragments of English; navigating the complex social dynamics of kids at school, trying out ‘white people food’ like cheese and spaghetti for the first time. I was very lucky and never had it so tough as you growing up – I lived in a heated basement apartment and had free time after school to spend how I wanted. In the meantime, my highly educated parents worked several labour jobs. There was hardship and heartbreaking moments – but we always had a lot of love and laughter. I’m very grateful for this.
Thank you for sharing your experiences – and for your wonderful writing Jean!! (Also I read your bio on your website – I love how you pursued dancing and writing despite more ‘practical’ professions that you would have excelled at. Way to go.
Jillian, thanks so much for your kind words! You noticed Kimberly in Mambo in Chinatown – a lot of people miss her unless they’re looking for her. I was so glad of her love interest too, that always felt right to me. I really appreciate your taking the time to get in touch. That kind of encouragement means everything to us authors, who are often writing away alone in shut-off rooms… By the way, I always read on my iPad when I’m on the elliptical too! Once I started doing that, it became much easier to work out. I hope we get to say hello someday in person, Jillian!
I just completed “Mambo in Chinatown” and felt compelled to reach out to you. I read “Girl in Translation” just before, and I was so touched by both of these pieces that I wanted to express gratitude for your effort and expression of your talent. When Kimberly was admitted to Harrison Prep, I was brought to tears while reading on the treadmill at the gym. It was so easy to get caught up in the desire of the characters well-being that they started to feel like long lost friends. And I can not even express fully how delighted I was when Kimberly made a reappearance in your second book. In my experience, many novels that do not have a sequel often leave the reader to forever wonder what has become of them. This is why I really enjoyed that you initiated her into the second book, and with her elementary school crush! You are a brilliant author and I found both of your books captivating. I hope to read more from you and would like to thank you for feeding hungry minds. Keep up the great work!
Jinny, thanks so much for getting in touch! I’m very glad you enjoyed my book and I worked as an ESL teacher for many years myself. I loved teaching my students. Yes, I think it is difficult sometimes to know what our students are going through. I’m honored you believe my book is helpful in parting that curtain of culture and language that sometimes separates us.
I am an English as a second language teacher. I just finished reading Girl in Translation. What a wonderful book! I would recommend to anyone but require it as reading for teachers of children learning English as a new language. The insights into what difficulties children face in a new culture, not having the right underwear to undress in gym class for example, are things we just don’t realize until someone who has been there tells us. Thanks for this fabulous story.
Fern, thank you for your kind words! Yes, I am Chinese and living in the Netherlands with my two sons, so I can identify with you too! I hope you enjoy Mambo in Chinatown, my second novel, and if you read it, keep an eye out for Kimberly, who makes a tiny appearance in it with a mystery character, also from Girl in Translation.
Deb, I’m so glad you’ve read both of my books! Thank you for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed them. If you see this, please sign up for the mailing list to be kept updated when a new book comes out – I’m working hard on the next one now, which will be set in Europe! I will also try to be clever and figure out how to put you on the mailing list myself… hmmmm….
Cecilia, I apologize for the long delay in posting your comment! Somehow it did not register in the system and it only appeared now to me. Thank you so much for your kind words and I am happy you enjoyed the Christmas scene especially.
as a Singaporean lady living in Australia with my hubby and 2 sons, I thoroughly enjoyed your book Girl in translation. Although I dont really speak cantonese, I can really relate to the way an Asian mother is trying to bring her daughter up to be a modest young Asian lady, they way they spoke, and the way they try to interact with the Americans. It’s a really wonderful book, and I am looking forward to reading your next.
I’ve just read your 2 books in the last few weeks. I can’t get enough! Your books are so moving, and they stay with me long after I’ve closed the back cover. I eagerly await your next books. Please keep me updated re new releases.
Thank your for sharing your gift and your insights with us all.
What a gifted and inspring writer. I just discovered the book Girl in Translation. What beautiful imagery and gentle strength from a book. Love the description and feelings evoked with the Christmas Eve and the knowledge that her gift from her mother was enough. So moving. And the time she gave the beloved panda to Matt, who knowingly returns it to her. Such depth and emotion. I want to read more of your work!!!! Thank you for choosing to inspire us all with such loving words.
Rena, how wonderful to hear from you! I’m glad that Mambo in Chinatown rang true to you and reminded you of your ballroom days. Those are very special memories for me as well. I don’t believe in accidents in life either and I’m very happy that you came across my work. Thank you for taking the time to get in touch and let me know. I hope we get to meet in person someday soon.
I just finished reading your book Mambo In Chinatown and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.
I used to ballroom dance , starting in my teens, took a break and got back to it in my 40’s
I am from the East Coast of Canada but had the wonderful experience of living in Vancouver, BC for many years
I belonged to a couple of different schools of dance in BC and loved every minute. I also made many oriental friends while working there and know some of ordeals the young have in Chinatown.
I never had the ambition to become professional but loved my lessons , private and group
I found a partner and for two years we took classes twice a week and became fairly good. It was a wonderful part of my life and your book brought back all my wonderful memories. I do know a bit about the ballroom scene and was reminded in your story
I found the book quite by accident at my local library . I am so fortunate to have found it and to have the chance to be reminded of such a lovely part of my life.
I thank you for writing this story .I don’t think there are accidents in life ,I believe I was supposed to find your work and have the enjoyment of my memories.
This book spoke to me in ways I cant discribe
I wish you well and look forward to finding another book you have published
Thank you so much
Laura, I’m thrilled to hear that! I’m working hard on the next book and hope to finish it soon – it’s set in both the US and Europe… If you sign up for my newsletter on the Contacts page, you’ll get the announcement as soon as it comes out! Thanks so much for getting in touch!
Anelia, how wonderful that so many students at your school are reading my book! I’m thrilled to hear it. You probably already know, but just in case – a teacher’s schoolkit has been designed to help teachers teach my book here: http://resources.primarysource.org/girlintranslation
If you click through the orange tabs at the top, you can find many exercises, videos, etc. Please do give my best regards to all of those students! Happy Holidays to all of you!
Thank you for your nice wishes. I would really love to meet with you personally.There are approximately 100 students at my school that are reading your book `Girl in Translation` right now. In my class I have international students as well. Also 1 of them is from China. I am looking forward to hear how they felt after reading your book.
I really hope I can share my story and their feedbacks when we meet.
Anelia, thank you for sharing your moving story with me! It is indeed so similar to Kimberly’s and my own life. What an incredible and international life you have already led and now you’re in the Netherlands with your husband – it’s amazing. I’m so glad that my work meant something to you. So many of us feel like outsiders for a multitude of different reasons but at heart, we are also the same. I am grateful you took the time to get in touch with me and I’m wishing you all the best! I hope we get to meet in person someday. Warmly, Jean
I really don’t know how to start. I have just read your book Girl in translation and it affected me so deeply. For me it was like reading a different version of my own story. I was born in Bulgaria. My family had everything there jobs, a house, a car and more time to spend with me. But then because of the political issues we were forced to immigrate to Turkey when l was 5. Suddenly everything changed. I remember staying in a tent camp. Then the government told us we can go and provided schools as shelters. Hundreds of people were staying in an old village school building. Women and children stayed inside and men in the garden. When summer holiday was over we had to find some place for us to stay.
As you said in your interview once you are immigrants your parents stop being your parents because they have to work. My parents were working at 2 jobs. They were leaving the home while l was sleeping and coming back while l was sleeping. My grandparents were the ones who were taking care of me. I had the same language problems when l was at school. Different accent, different look (short hairs as you can guess). I was always ” the other one”.
Then I managed to get a scholarship from a university in Cyprus both for my MA and BA. There l was ” the other one” again because l wasn’t Cypriot. But it wasn’t as obvious as in Turkey.
3 years ago l met with my Dutch husband in Turkey. We got married 1,5 years ago and now l live in the Netherlands. I am teaching English in a college with so many international students.
When ever people ask me where l am from, l don’t know how to answer and say ” basically from Europe”. And when they ask about my country l don’t know the answer. As you said as an immigrant you can’t have just 1 identity. You actually have the cultures of all countries.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never been to Brazil although I have many Brazilian friends. We always used to go out dancing together. I’m glad to hear about the things you liked about my novel. It’s important to me as well to portray women positively. I love Tyrone as well – I have to say that you really should read my second novel, Mambo in Chinatown, which is not about Kimberly but she does make a short appearance in it with a mystery love interest. I’m very curious what you’ll think of that scene! So you’ll catch a small glimpse of Kimberly’s future there. In general, Kimberly and her Ma are doing just fine and Matt does find out about Jason one day and they do have a warm relationship. In any case, thanks for getting in touch and letting me know your thoughts on my book!
Your book club sounds wonderful! I wish I could be there… I’m wishing you a wonderful discussion of my book and good food, great friends, ambiance. Please say hi to all the members of the Hobe Sound Floridas Lilas for me!
I’ve just finished reading Girl in Translation and I’m so thrilled by the story! I’m a Brazillian girl and I’m complety fascinated by the Asian culture in general, but especially Chinese – in my school we have as one of the languages learning options, besides Portuguese and English, other three ones, and between them I choose Mandarim (Hanyu). I’m working to it, with the hope of visiting the country someday. That’s why your book interested me in the first place, but while I was reading it surprised me how I related myself with the story. The way Kimberly is strong and focused, the way she’s never ashamed of herself and her intelligence really inspired me. I’m sort of a nerd too. I also saw my mother in her, because of the all the difficulties and struggles she had to pass in order to get a better life for herself and her family, and I’m so grateful everyday for this. Being born Brazillian she at least didn’t have the difficulty with the language, and this made me think about how many immigrants may have a similar in my very country, coming from everywhere. In São Paulo we have a neighborhood similar to Chinatown, the “Liberdade” (it means “Freedom”). There lives and works many Chinese immigrants and their descendants and it’s full of life, a great mix of Brazillian-Chinese culture. If you visit Brazil someday, I think you would love it!
I also would like to add that I love how women was represented in the book. Sadly until today it’s hard to find YA books with really strong protagonists or even realistic, and you gave it both. Kimberly made me proud of my gender. Her friendship with Anette was very real and relatable – we need more book like this, with female as friends, not always enemies! The representation of other races and ethnicities too, and as a black girl I have to say that every mention of it in the books, on a neutral perceptive, meant a lot – Tyrone was so cool! I wished that Kimberly had meet him again in the middle or the end, just to catch up and see how he was going. The romance was beatifully developed and even myself could fall in love a little with Matt.
And going to this topic, I need to ask: what happened next? She meet with him again? She introduces Jason to him?
We will talk about your book The Girl in Translation on Thursday, November19th. I am off to the party store to pick up Chinese New Year d orations. May hit the fabric store to get some plush fabric for added ambiance! Our book club gets a little silly sometimes. We are going strong, this is our 15th year and they are my closest friends!
Love to you from the Hobe Sound Floridas Lilas (literature ladies? Laughter? We can’t quite remember how we got Lilas but that’s us!)
We may submit again after our meeting. We would love to hear from you if you have a spare minute:)
David, it is so wonderful to hear from you! I remember Kwan talking about you, one of his skydiving buddies. You describe him so well! I wouldn’t worry too much about the I Ching reading because he did a number of readings for me and some friends, and we discovered then that his readings were most accurate if we converted the birthdate and time to Chinese time. I know, strange, right? He’d come across indeed a negative reading for a friend, that also didn’t really fit the friend’s personality, but when we converted, the reading fit perfectly (and was much more positive.) I will message you separately. Thanks so much for getting in touch!
I just wanted to say hello to you. I was a good friend of Kwan. I met him years ago skydiving in Albuquerque. For some reason I have been thinking about him a lot lately. I think I was very privileged because I got to know him in the context of simple friendship, without any professional or career type interests or factors coming into play. We were simply skydiving buddies. I was laughing with a friend of mine the other day when describing Kwan. Sometimes I would beat him playing pool. He would become furious, saying “I don’t understand! I hit the ball with the perfect angle and velocity vector”! We would ride motorcycles together and he would ask “how many degrees of clutch must I release and how many revolutions per minute must engine be at for me to make a wheelie? His mind was so incredibly technical, sometimes at the cost of just “feeling it”. But your brother
used to cook us some gourmet meals at his home, and entertain us with stories of his childhood and his education. Once he did an I Ching reading for me. I remember that he did not want to tell me what it was, eventually revealing that there was something very negative in store for me. Thank goodness, it has not come to pass yet, but I often think about it. I greatly admired and respected your brother, but again, I feel like he and I simply had some great laughs over the years. For some reason he really liked me, although I was nowhere near, and I mean nowhere near his intellectual equal. I just thought that I would share this story with you, as I have been thinking about him. I hope you are well and I wish you continued health and success as a writer.
Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m very glad you enjoyed my novel and I appreciate your condolences for my brother. I still miss him every day. Please thank your friend for me for recommending my book. I hope we get the chance to meet in person one day too. I’ve never been to Canada!
A friend told me about you and gave me the link to your website. I found your life history hugely fascinating, and decided to read your first novel. Girl in Translation is totally riveting. It shows what the power of the human spirit can do to help us successfully manage adversities, set meaningful personal goals, chase important dreams, pursue excellence, meet responsibilities and obligations, etc. Your book and your own life events also remind me that nothing is impossible to achieve if we firmly know what we want, are determined, and work very hard.
I am sorry that you lost your dearest genius brother a few years ago. I am sure he would have told you he was extremely proud of all your truly remarkable accomplishments.
I hope to have an opportunity to ask you to sign your book for me one day in Toronto, Canada. You are simply unstoppable!
Jess, I’m so glad that you and your book club enjoyed my book! I looked at UsedYorkCity’s twitter page and I love that photo of the woman on the bicycle – it’s just like the Netherlands, where everything and everyone travels by bike. Kimberly makes a tiny cameo in Mambo in Chinatown, so keep an eye out for her. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know!
Stephen, I love the Autumn Moon Festival, though I don’t know the mooncakes you mention. I visited SF’s Chinatown when I was there on book tour and enjoyed it very much, was surprised by the number of Cantonese and Toisanese speaking residents. Congratulations to you on your first book and I wish you the best of luck!
I grew up in S.F. Chinatown and was curious as to whether there were similar experiences from ‘East Coast Cantonese’ crowd. Yes, we share similar cultural experiences. I enjoyed reading your novel! And related a little to it, although I am an ABC from the west coast. It was a heart warming reading experience. I am celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival by eating ‘Don Wong Lien Yung’ Mooncakes. I’ve written my first book, though on a more somber note and more of a autobiography regarding my recovery from an auto accident with a big rig. If interested, there is a Kindle version available via http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOQQGFA.
Thanks so much for your message! I’m very glad you enjoyed Mambo in Chinatown and I hope you like Girl in Translation as well. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. Btw, I live in the Netherlands and speak some Dutch!
I’m honored you listened to Girl in Translation three times! The narrator is really terrific. Annette and Kurt are happy and well. Kurt marries a dancer and Annette and Kimberly are still friends. Annette becomes a journalist.
Dear Jean, I just finished reading your wonderful book “Mambo in Chinatown:, and it was wonderful. I basically stopped everything I was doing and read it in a couple of days. If you are interested in who reads your books, I am a 67 year old Caucasian Dutch/Canadian man. I am going to get your other book right now. I am fascinated by other world traditions and you captured both that idiom and the generation gap present in many families. Thanks again for taking me to those places you know so well.
Dick N. Saskatoon, Canada.
Dear Miss Kwok: I listened to GIRL IN TRANSLATION 3 times and admired your work more each time. My only disappointment was I would have liked to know what Annette and Kurt were doing 12 years later. I’m looking forward to reading your next book.
I know you are probably really busy, but I wanted to say I really liked Girl in Translation. I found out about your book around March or April. I was at the library, and I was looking at the books for sale. I saw your book and I decided to get it. Let me just say, it was great (I know I already said that but its true). The thing was that none of my friends knew about your book so they didn’t understand all the love and pain I felt through reading your book. The ending made me smile but it also made sad (in a good way). My heart goes out to Kimberly, I myself have never had to go through all that stress and pressure, but by reading your book I felt like I understood more.
Thank you Jean. You are very kind. Yes, I do try and put forth my best effort when I write something. Whether it is a comment on a blog, an e-mail, a report/paper, or some other form of text, I always try to practice good writing skills. Thank you for noticing! I wish to be a writer one day and have a book published.
Yes, sadly I have had my share of “Lukes” during my school years. One bully was bad enough that he would shove me up against walls or lockers just for the fun of it. That’s why I felt so afraid for Kimberly in your book when she had to face Luke. I knew what she was going through. Listening to that part of the story took me back and I could remember that same fear that I once had. I agree with you. We are all somewhat kindred spirits when it comes to school bullying.
I’m sure that I will enjoy it Jean and I will tell you what I think of it when I finish it! Thank you again for taking the time to write back to me! It really means a lot. Best wishes!
Mike, no need to apologize at all – believe me, you’re not the only one who reposts because the comment doesn’t appear quickly! Sometimes I don’t get notified when someone posts here for some reason, and other times, I’m just too swamped to be able to reply properly so I prefer to wait until I can respond as well. I could tell a great deal of thought had gone into your comment. I really enjoyed reading it. I’m sorry you had a bully like Luke in your life too. So many of us actually share similar experiences without knowing it. I do hope you enjoy Mambo in Chinatown too and I’m glad to be in touch, Mike!
Hi Jean. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. I apologize for my double posts there as I didn’t know how it worked and I was concerned that my comment was lost somehow as I took a lot of time to type and edit it. I really wanted you to read it because I really loved your book. Thank you for telling me how it works!
Yes, I very much enjoyed your book and how it was brought to life by the voice actress that read it. I could always tell who was speaking because she portrayed each character’s voice and personality so well.
Yes, I did indeed notice your efforts in trying to change the common stereotypes that are often associated with African Americans in your book. I look for this in every book that I read or listen to, not just for my own ethnicity, but that of other ethnicities as well. So thank you again for doing this.
And ironically enough, I attended schools that were similar to Kimberly’s first school, predominantly African American and I had to deal with a class bully that was very much like Luke!
I shall look for and either read or listen to your next book as well. I want to find out how Kimberly, her mom and Jason are doing. Stories that truly touch my heart I come to care for and often wonder how they are doing. But I’m happy to hear that Kimberly and her family are okay! I will look for them in your next book. I know that I will love “Mambo In Chinatown” too!
Hi Mike, Thank you so much for your insightful comments! First of all, please call me Jean. I apologize for the delay in posting your comment but I try not to approve comments until I also have time to reply. I’m so glad that you enjoyed my book and the characters in it. You name some of my favorites as well. It is important to me to try to change many of the stereotypes commonly held about people of color and I’m happy you noticed my efforts. I understand your sadness at the end of the book. If you get the chance to read or listen to my second novel Mambo in Chinatown, keep your eyes peeled for a very brief appearance by Kimberly and a mystery character you’ll recognize from Girl in Translation. You’ll find out more about her future and love life then. By the way, I personally picked the actresses who read both of the audio books and I think they are wonderful. In any case, I’m very glad you care about my book and characters – rest assured that Ma and Kimberly are doing just fine. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know and I’m wishing you all the best.
Ms. Kwok, my name is Mike. I just finished listening to the audio version of your first book, “Girl In Translation” and I absolutely LOVED it! You write so well and the story was so vivid, I almost felt like I was in the story itself, seeing it through Kimberly’s eyes. And in truth, I could relate to her in some ways as far as not having a lot growing up and having to reside in a living space, albeit briefly, with no heat during the winter and having roaches as roommates (not a very pleasant experience on either count). But you developed Kimberly’s character so well and her determination to create a better life for herself and her mother was so well told that I often found myself cheering for her and hoping that she would succeed in the best possible way. She is such a strong character, not just in her determination to succeed, but as a person overall. Whether she was standing up to her first school bully, Luke or later on in the story, her aunt Paula, Kimberly displays such a courage and such tenacity in that she wouldn’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. She outmatches many other protagonists in other stories that I have read and listened to (and trust me when I say that I’ve read and listened to a lot of books prior to yours). Many display arrogance and an overall “smugness” that can sometimes take away from the story as I get annoyed with main characters like that. But this is not the case for Kimberly. Her determination to remain stalwart in the face of all adversity and tumult that she faced, makes her shine brighter than any other main character that I have ever encountered. That is what makes a great story and you have told hers in such a wonderful and delightful way Ms. Kwok. And I really enjoyed many of the other characters that Kimberly meets over the seven year course of her life that essentially help shape her for who she is; Al, Kimberly’s first American adult friend, Tyrone, Kimberly’s shy but extremely intelligent classmate (an outcast like me in school), Annette, Kimberly’s sweet, loyal and kind-hearted friend that helps her make it through the first few rough years at school, Mr. Jamali, the kind-hearted man that works in the school library Kimberly works at to earn extra money, and even the unnamed African American man that fixes Kimberly’s and her mother’s stove so that they can have some heat in their apartment. It was sweet when Kimberly said that it would have been nice if a man like that were her father, further indicating how kind he was in her eyes. And by the way, thank you for putting that in your book. Many times, African Americans are seen in a negative light. But we’re (myself included here) are not all like how the media sometimes portrays us. And even crazy but funny Curt added a bit of light to Kimberly’s world when it seemed like things were crashing down around her.
I could go on and on about how I enjoyed your book, but my peroration is quite long here so I will wrap up and say that I did feel sad for Kimberly at the end. I sort of felt that the story ended on a rather sad note, as you clearly indicated that things didn’t work out well between her and Matt. I was sort of hoping that they would manage to end up together. But they ended up going their separate ways, as we all must do, one day. Saying goodbye to someone you love, whether that be a friend or a loved one, can be one of the hardest and most heart-breaking tasks a person can do. But walking that path that which has been laid out before us is there. It is always there. And we must all walk it.
Thank you for a great story Ms. Kwok! Based off of your own experience, made it even more engaging and real to me. It has taught me never to give up my hopes and dreams, no matter the circumstances. I wish to be a great writer like you someday!
This was so good that I wish to read, and/or listen to your next installment. I really look forward to it!
I have just finished reading MAMBO IN CHINATOWN. This book was chosen for my book club for June 2015.
I really enjoyed the story. I also read your other book GIRL IN TRANSLATION. I hope you will have another book coming out. I have read about you on your website – you have accomplished so much in your life – you should be extremely proud of yourself.
Hi Hanna, I think teachers like you make a big difference in your students’ lives, even if you can’t fix their problems. That is so sad about your Vietnamese student but I am sure you were a source of warmth and hope in her life, which is so important. Thank you for getting in touch and I’m sorry about the late response, somehow this comment was filed in the wrong folder. Warmly, Jean
Hi SH Baran, I’m so honored that you’re interested in translating my book. Unfortunately, that’s something that is decided by my foreign publishers – when they buy the rights, they also choose the translator. Thank you for your interest in any case! All my best, Jean
WOW! I just finished Girl in Translation on audio. . .loved it and can’t wait to read your next novel. I normally don’t read YA unless I am doing a review. I found the audio at our local Cracker Barrel restaurant and thought, “Why not”? Boy, I am glad . . . LOVED it . . . I will listen to it again as I quilt. I can’t wait to recommend your book to others!
Girl In Translation was very painful for me–it reminded me of a 20-year-old Vietnamese student in an ESL class I taught who was supporting a suicidal mother and self-centered 18-year-old brother. I tried to get relief for her but wasn’t able to. Last I heard she was pregnant by a violent illegal Mexican immigrant. I have always felt badly that I couldn’t help her. I expect there are a lot of well-meaning teachers who feel helpless. Laws like our privacy laws and rigid welfare regulations may protect some people but they make it very hard to assist others.
i hope that everything goes well for you.truly i really interested to translate you’re book(girl in translation) in persion
but unfortunately couldn’tfind this book in book centers and ofcourse need you’re permission to do that,too. please help me to how can do this
I’m honored that you think of my characters as real people – I do too! In fact, I’m always having imaginary conversations with them in my head… I’m afraid I don’t know Gail Tsukiyama’s books but will keep an eye out for them. Thanks so much for letting me know, and for spreading the word to your friends – I’m very grateful!
Bridget, how wonderful that you enjoyed my book! I too was a minority in my school and used to search in books for characters like me. I found a great deal of hope and inspiration in books as well. I’m happy you were able to relate to mine. I’m wishing you all my best!
Rona, thank you so much for getting in touch! I can picture you at Starbucks and I’m honored that my book touched you. Matt and Jason will have a relationship in the future because Jason will ask questions about his father. Actually, Jason has inherited Ma’s musical talent and will become quite famous. Kimberly and Ma are also just fine. My second novel Mambo in Chinatown isn’t a sequel but Kimberly does appear in it very briefly, with a mystery love interest whom you will also recognize from Girl in Translation.
Dear Jean Kwok,
I recently (about three minutes ago) finished your book Girl In Translation. This book created both feelings of sadness and content. I cannot thank you enough for such an amazing piece of literature. A special thanks for the inspiration that I received from simply reading it. I am the minority in my school and in the book I could relate to a few feelings and obstacles present to Kimberley Chang. Yet, I am massively greatful for all that I have and admire you for being able to write your book with these aspects.
Jean, I just finished Girl in Translation about about a few hours ago and my heart is still aching. I started to have separation anxiety at chapter 12 because I knew the end was close. Your book was amazing! I had to pause and put the book down many times towards the last few chapter because it was all too much. Can you imagine what the other customers of Starbucks were thinking as I was sitting there giggling, gasping, laughing, sighing, and crying? Haha. I felt the pain of the choices she made but I understood why she did it. My favorite quote by far, “I never want to love someone like that, not even Matt, so much that there would be no room left for myself, so much that I wouldn’t be able to survive if he left.” It touched my soul, because I too feel that way about love. That quote foreshadowed her decision so much and I knew it would happen too. It had to happen that way, she worked too hard and had came so far! *sigh* Will there be a sequel to this? I pray that there will be!! I want to know what happens to Matt and Jason! Matt and Kimberly! Ah… I haven’t read a wonderful book like this in a while and I thank you! Thank you so much for an amazing book.
My book club in Naples, Florida is reading your book for our meeting later this month. Thank you for the pictures, video and recipes-will share those with everyone at the meeting. I’ve finished the book and loved looking at Charlie’s world while reading it!
Denise, so you were from Brooklyn too! How interesting. Yes, I rode the subway to Canal Street many times. Thank you for sharing your story with me. And you might have missed it the first time since you read Mambo in Chinatown first, but if you go back, you’ll find that Kimberly Chang makes a tiny appearance in Mambo with another character you’ll recognize from Girl in Translation!
I read Mambo in Chinatown two weeks ago and enjoyed it so much that I looked for your other books.
I finished Girl In Translation last night. Your character Kimberly brought me to tears! What a hard childhood! I read that you also immigrated to Brooklyn and worked with your family in a aweatshop. I am hoping your childhood was not so terrible!
I lived in Brooklyn the first 21 years of my life, Avenue J and then the Kings H’way area which were nice neighborhoods back in the 50’s-60’s. My best friend in high school was Chinese. Her parents and older sister were from China and she and her little brother were born in the USA. Many weekends I took the train with her to Canal Street with a shopping list from her mother. I learned quite a bit of Chinese
I am looking forward to reading more books from you as soon as you write them. Thank you for hours of reading pleasures.
Stanislava, it meant so much to me to receive your kind comments this morning! I’m thrilled that you felt connected to Kimberly. I can imagine that our experiences had much in common. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me – I really appreciate it. And Kimberly does make a tiny appearance in Mambo in Chinatown, along with a mystery love interest… rest assured that she and Ma are doing just fine!
Renee, there is a team working on making a Girl in Translation movie – fingers crossed that it all works out! And so kind of you to think of writing a book with me! It makes me happy to think that you’d want to do such a thing. I’m afraid I find it impossible to work with someone else on this kind of thing but I really appreciate the thought. I hope that you write your own stories one day. Maybe think about joining a kind, smart writing group? Wishing you all the best!
Having just closed the final page of A Girl In Translation (being unable to stop despite a very long journey), I would like to say that you are one of the reasons why I love reading and education. I can only imagine how many skirts it must have taken to have the kind of courage and perseverance you possess. You are an inspiration and thank you so very much for putting your heart and soul on the page. It is so very rarely that I find myself so connected to a character. Your book was real and while I moved to UK at the age of 12 and my experience was vastly different, the story was very relatable on a personal level for me.I love that it’s a semi-autobiography. Thank you and God bless you and your family!
I would like to know it would be possible if you and I can write book together because I just love the books you wrote it made me want to write a book but I understand if you don’t want to do it can’t wait to read your next book.
I’m Ayşenur from Turkey.I finished ‘Kelimelerin Derin Sessizliği’ right now and I’m not sure how I feel.It was amazing.I finished book,I closed cover and I started to wait.I couldn’t cry,I couldn’t smile.I still don’t know how I can tell this but your book is unbeliaveable.I had a holiday and it was 15 days.I read lots of book but I couldn’t feel this.I missed this feeling and I’m so grateful to you for that.I hope,one day we can meet and talk about writing.
Beste Jean, ik heb jou 2 boeken binnen 4 dagen gelezen, ben er nog vol van. Hartelijk dank voor jou schrijversschap, ( begrijp je dat woord?), ben niet zo goed in Engels, may by: your way of writing,
it makes me smile, cry and feel my one strength more…..
All the best, <3 Mona
Renee, Mambo in Chinatown just came out if you haven’t read it yet and I’m working hard on the next one as we speak… My next book is about a Chinese American woman who moves to the Netherlands to start a new life. I’ll certainly put it on my website as soon as I know the publication date!
I just wanted you to know how much I am enjoying your book, Mambo in Chinatown. It is sweet and true and speaks to all of us who come from more culturally traditional families no matter what the culture. Also I wanted to thank you for helping me to remember to center myself, stand tall and walk centered over the snow and ice here in the mountains where I live. As I have grown older, I have begun to keep my body more rigid especially in the winter. And the more rigid your body is the more likely you will fall. So thanks, Mary
James, please call me Jean. I’m so glad your Night Owls book club enjoyed my book! I’m afraid I don’t know how expressions like “sending out the cat” or “let’s get a moon tan” originated – I learned them from my family and they were just colloquial expressions that people commonly used. It’s interesting to speculate, though, isn’t it?! Please give my best regards to everyone in your book club and thanks for getting in touch!
I enjoyed reading your book “Girl In Translation” in our Night Owls book group. There was one thing that came up which no one had an answer to so I thought I would ask the author. Near the end of the book, Kim is talking with Matt about how she thinks the school suspects her of cheating. You have her using a Chinese proverb of “sending out the cat”. We are wondering about the origin of that saying. It would be much appreciated if you could let us know how that proverb came into existence. TIA for your time and any information you can provide
Jean, I got lucky and saw your book at Barnes and Noble. I took dance lessons 20 years ago at Fred Astaire in Ridgewood. I loved my time there. Ryan was better than me but I loved it. I competed a few times and enjoyed that as well. Got friendly with Mario and Elena Battista whom you may recall from the dance world. They are still dear friends. I enjoyed the book and it brought back so many memories of starting out as a student and learning little by little. Thank you for a wonderful experience.
Priyanka, I appreciate your invitation so much but I just spoke at ASH! You must have missed me somehow… ASH English teacher Katrina Middelburg is a dear friend of mine and mentioned in my Acknowledgments too – you should say hi to her!
I just want to thank you, Jean, for Girl in Translation. You gave this 74 year old grandmother a number of hours when she just could not put your book down! Thank you for sharing, in fiction, a lot of what you went through. All very best wishes.
Michael, thank you so much for your kind and insightful message. I’m so happy you enjoyed the tiny details that brought my books to a close and as a writer, it’s very nice for me to have those things be noticed and appreciated by a reader. It really means a lot to me. Hearing from readers like you made it all worthwhile – thanks for taking the time to let me know. And it’s especially great to know that guys are moved by my books too…
As I write this I feel a little like Charlie Wong: deeply moved but at a loss to find words adequate to describe my appreciation of your writing and gratitude to you for both your books (and in them sharing so much of yourself). The fact that you are such a genuine and kind person is what inspires me to go on.
After reading both books I have listened several times to their audio counterparts (and likely will continue…often) and can enjoy them as if they are movies, thanks to the superb readers chosen (by you I hope) for this undertaking. I particularly enjoyed Angela Lin’s narration and rendition of so many voices.
You close the loop so well. In Girl in Translation it’s the record with the Italian opera song found by Kimberly when playing hooky and played as she cried at the end – also in Mambo in Chinatown, the girls’ sticking tongues out at each other, Pa’s wish for Winston/Ryan to come over “sometime” and the bridge crossing scenes.
Both books were deeply emotional for me (a guy!). As you had as your intention the books, along with some riveting reading, have given me a much deeper sense of the immigrant’s experience and genuine appreciation for the “invisible people,” the Charlies, Kimberlys, Matts, Pas and Mas of the world, not to mention insights into the life of Chinatown, ballroom dancing and chopstick etiquette – and a little Chinese along the way. (You use the expression “met my eyes” often. Is it also a Chinese expression?)
Anyway, you are very busy and I have gone on long enough (and could go on…and on. I hope after your third book you’ll continue writing, possibly continuing to tell us about the lives of the characters you’ve already introduced, especially my favorites the Wongs.
Thanks ever so much. You are such a gift to the world.
Daniel, I love hearing from guys and so many of them say the same thing – that they cried and loved the book, but please don’t tell anyone! I’m thrilled you enjoyed my book, and I had to laugh that you smelled the delicious food too! I’m glad you could identify and thanks for getting in touch!
Ashley, I love it that you stalled finishing the book because you didn’t want it to end! Yes, there are so many people who encounter disbelief like Aunt Monica’s when they try to tell the truth. There are people interested in making this into a movie and actually, possibly a television series (!!), so please keep your fingers crossed!
Jing Su, that’s wonderful that you read my book three times and found something different each time! I’m from the Guangdong area too. It’s very kind of you to say that my life and book have been inspirational to you, and I’m glad that your life wasn’t quite as difficult, although I’m sure we still had many experiences in common – most immigrants do! I hope you enjoy Mambo in Chinatown and it would be wonderful to meet in person someday soon!
Dana, I’m so happy you cared enough about my characters in Girl in Translation to wonder what happens to them! I’m not planning to write a sequel but Kimberly does make a very quick appearance in my new novel Mambo in Chinatown, along with a mystery character. Rest assured that they all end up fine; Annette has a life filled with adventure, Curt marries a dancer, and Kimberly and Ma are happy. Thank you for caring!
Thank you for writing Girl in Translation. As a guy I was hesitant to pick up the book since I was worried it would be too girly. But it turned out to be a delightful read, one that I could identify with to a certain extent growing up as an ABC in the States. I laughed, I cried, I smelled delicious food, you really took me there… please keep up the great work and God Bless!
Your book, Girl in Translation, was on the home page of my public library website…I remember going to elementary school with a girl named Jean Kwok, and I think it was you (it was the picture of you and Mrs. Kasindorf that confirmed it)! Congratulations on your tremendous success, both professionally and personally. I’ll look forward even more to reading your books.
Just finished Mambo in Chinatown. Loved every minute of it & stalled in finishing it because I didn’t want it to end. Charlie, Lisa, Pa and Ryan had me rooting for them all. Aunt Monica’s unwillingness to believe Lisa had me intrigued and curious. Uncle’s unwavering gentle soul made me want to reach in and hug him. Any possibility of this being made into a movie?
Dear Ms. Jean Kwok,
I had just finished reading Girl in Translation for the third time. The first time I read it, I was 8 years old and I basically just scanned it over, not really paying attention to the details. The second time I read it, I was 10 years old, I read up to the middle and stopped, not bothering to search up unknown vocabulary. The third time I read the book, which was 2 days ago, I was blown away. The first time I saw the book and read the blurb, I was so excited because I had thought we had so much in common. I was born in Guangdong, China and I moved to Flushing, Queens, NY when I was 5 years old. I spoke Cantonese and I thought we would suffer the same hardships being in America. But just 2 days ago, I realized I was completely wrong. We had almost nothing in common. I was never as poor or determined as you were to support your family. I have been in America for almost 7 years now and I can’t imagine working in a factory or getting teased because of your culture in school.
Girl in Translation is such an inspirational book to me. You proved that even though you lived in such a bad environment, you could still be successful. I realized I never suffered any hardships moving to America, if anything it helped me and my family. Your story inspired me to work even harder in school and someday be as successful as you are.
I look forward to reading your recent book: Mambo in Chinatown, and maybe someday meeting you in person.
I am overjoyed that I found you as an author! Its been so long since I’ve had such enjoyment from reading. I have a library of 4,000 books comprised of 100’s of author’s but when people come to visit my bed and breakfast I always recommend your work first. Thank you for your takent! Dona – innkeeper
Jean, I am a senior living in a senior community. I just finished reading your book which I could not put down and I’m ready to pass it along. First, I had to tell you how much I loved it. Your style of writing is my style. Thank you for your inspiring story.
I really enjoyed reading “Girl in Translation”. Even though I liked the ending of the book, it left me wanting to know more about Kimberly, Annette and even Curt. Do you think you will ever write a sequel to this book and continue on with their lives?
Tina, thank you for your lovely message! I’m so glad you enjoyed my novel and it means a lot to me that it helps you in your own life. I often find inspiration in books as well. I hope your niece enjoys it and if I’m in your area, I do hope we get to meet up in person!
May, that’s so interesting about your life as well. I also felt like I was the only person living the way I did, yet I’ve realized since publication of my books that there are so many of us who had experiences in common. Thanks so much for sharing!
I just finished reading “Girl In Translation.” I just loved how this book was so beautifully written. Obviously, some of it tore at my heart i.e. your terrible apartment, the injustice at school, mean spirited boys and girls,the factory etc. Oh, let me not forget your “Faviorite Aunt Paula” and all the other trials and tribulations which you had to endure. I can’t imagine anyone working in a sweatshop. Somehow God gave you the strength and courage to get you through those terrible years. Bless your Mother. What an amzaing woman.
Reading your book gave me strengh and courage to face things going on in my own personal life. Your words did make an impression on me. I need to remember certain passages from your book so I too can focus what’s really important in life. I pray that God can give me only half of your wisdom.
I plan to share your book with my niece. She too will love it.
Jean, God bless and keep you and your family well and safe.
You are the best author ever. Girl in Translation is my all time favorite book. I was so excited when I saw that you have written a new book, Mambo. I can’t see well and listen to audio CDs or mp3 CDs. Please put Mambo on a cd!!!
So thrilled to have read Mambo! I couldn’t wait to get a hold of it! I just wanted to let you know that before I read Girl In Translation, I couldn’t imagine that anyone else could understand the culture I grew up in.My parents came from Honh Kong too. I grew up living in the back of a laundry in the 60’s and 70’s.My mother is Kimberly Changs mother. My mother knew an education was the way out for me. I listened. So thank you so much and I look forward to your next novel.
Thanks SO much for Mambo in Chinatown. I got teary several times… I guess for a guy that’s emotional! I wonder what Ryan would think. Charlie (especially) and Lisa are such delights. Thanks and I look forward to Girl in Translation and the next book about the other Wongs. Again MANY THANKS!
Laura, I’m so happy you enjoyed Mambo in Chinatown and that you’re now reading Girl in Translation! I appreciate your kind words very much – comments like this really make me happy and like I’m on the right track. Thank you!
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Mambo in Chinatown. I recently came across a review of the book and knew right then that I wanted to read it. I am sad to admit that I had not known about you before, so I started with your second book and now of course I’m reading Girl in Translation. What else can I say that has not been said before! Maybe that your ability to transport a reader to an unknown place, with never experienced circumstances, while your soul becomes so engaged with the story, it’s truly a gift. Thank you for writing both stories, and even though I have not finished Girl in Translation yet, what a pleasure it has been to read your words. I really look forward to read more from you. Count me as your biggest fan!
The Central Library is interested in local writers whose story is set in New York City. I would like to extend an invitation to you to come to the library to discuss your book with our customers. You would be part of a panel discussion with two other local authors discussing their books. Would you be interested?
Hi Carol, That is so funny! I’ve actually just sent Armando and Laura a book, to thank them for all they’ve done for me. Armando hired me at Fred Astaire! Please say hi to them for me if you see them. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book!
As a former ballroom dancer, I could relate to your book, Mambo in Chinatown. When I read your acknowledgements, I had to smile. I live in the same community as Armando and we have discussed dancing often!
Hi Jean- our paths crossed in April in Amsterdam when my husband Paul Zelinsky was at ISA. (Our daughters went to PS 8 with your nephews.) Rocco said he met you at ALA and you would give a book talk at our branch library. The Friends would love it. Please contact me so we can arrange it!
Deborah Hallen, President, FBHBL
Just finished reading “Girl In Translation” and it was completely mesmerizing. You are such a vivid storyteller. Very few authors can make a reader feel like a part of the story. You are one of those rare talents. I couldn’t put the book down. Can’t wait I start “Mambo in Chinatown!”
Op 5 juli jl. had u veel plezier als gast in de NPR’s Weekend Edition op de St. Louis Public Radio. Natuurlijk kan ik niet tegen de presentatrice Tamara Keith op, maar toch zou ik het erg leuk vinden om u in de maand september of oktober op zondagmorgen tussen 10 en 12 uur als gast te mogen ontmoeten in het radioprogramma Unity’s Regiorotonde van de zender Unity FM. “Dans met mij op de radio”.
Omdat ik niet uw mailadres had, heb ik dit berichtje in uw gastenboek achter gelaten.
Unity FM is de lokale publieke omroep voor Leiden, Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Zoeterwoude, Voorschoten e.o.
Wij zijn te ontvangen op 105.7 FM, via Ziggo digitaal op kanaal 780,
een app via de appstore en via de computer op http://www.unity.nu
Cerrissa, thank you for your very kind words! I found you to be very warm and kind and I was impressed that you also wanted to offer guidance to another author. I really appreciate it that you took the time to come to my reading and I’m glad your son is now getting better. I’m wishing you the best of luck with your own writing, and everything else too!
How wonderful that you and your wife are ballroom dancers! It’s a wonderful hobby to share together. I’m very glad that you enjoyed Mambo in Chinatown and hope you’ll like Girl in Translation as well. I danced with Fred Astaire, and we certainly knew Arthur Murray dancers well – two wonderful studios.
It was lovely to meet you! I enjoyed being at Maryville very much and I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed my talk. I saw Linda later on in my tour too! Thank you for your very kind words and I’m sending you all my best.
It was wonderful to meet you in person. You are just as beautiful in person as you are in your photographs. I know now after meeting you, your beauty is not only on the outside, it comes from within. You are beautiful and humble, and so generous with your time, offering another young writer advice on how to get her novel published. I hope you didn’t think I was being pushy by jumping in too. This last year I have learned so much about the craft and business, and like you, I want to inspire other writers. Sometimes I think it would have been helpful to learn what I have earlier, but I don’t know that I would have had the same stories to tell. Thank you for answering all my questions about the business and about your family. Your presentation was so interesting and I loved watching the clip of you ballroom dancing! Reading Mambo in Chinatown will be my reward for finishing up revisions on my own novel, and I can’t wait to read your latest work. I wish you many more bestselling novels.
P.S. It looks like we may have a diagnosis for my 10 year old son (who has been sick since November), and he’s getting better by the day. Attending your reading, was one of the few times in the last eight months I’ve left him. I’ll bet your little guys are glad to have you home (and your kitties and hubby too). Again, thanks for making this tour. I’m sure it was exhausting but hopefully you were invigorated by how much your fans appreciated meeting you in person.
Guess you can tell from the email address that my wife and I are ballroom dancers. We met at an Arthur Murray Studio in 1983 and we have been together ever since. I saw your book on display at the local Barnes & Noble and the mambo in the title obviously caught my attention. I just finished it and enjoyed it immensely, my wife is reading it now while I go back and read your first book “Girl in Translation.” Thanks for a wonderful tale of dancing and the Chinese experience in NYC.
I heard your interview on KBOO radio this morning, July 4th… it’s so good to know of you and to hear your story because I can identify with it in so many ways…my family came to America in 1949 when I was 11 years old.
I just finished your new book Mambo in Chinatown last week. It is my favorite book of 2014! The book was beautifully written and the story was just wonderful. You have a special gift and I hope to read many more of your books in the years to come. Please keep up the good work!
I came to your talk tonight at Maryville University. I’m the one who told you, you were wonderful and I’m a friend of Linda Austin’s. I thought you were/are very inspirational! I felt good after leaving your talk. I am always amazed at how people start out in life, endure hardships, go on and perhaps not be bitter! I’m so glad you still embrace your heritage and try to help others! If more people did this, the world would be a better place.
I hope the rest of your stay in St. Louis was great! I look forward to your next trip here and your next book!
That is so nice to hear! I’m very glad that both you and your wife are enjoying my book – Kimberly makes a tiny appearance in the new one… Appreciate it very much that you took the time to let me know and please say hello to your wife for me as well! If you’re in any of the areas I’ll be reading, please come by and say hello in person!
My wife picked up your book for her book club and has been reading it recently. She said it was excellent, and I picked it up when she left the room and opened it in the middle. It’s in a large print format and I was skeptical at first since it was a young girl narrating, but then I couldn’t put it down. Now we’re fighting over who gets to read your book first. Can’t wait to read more, once it’s my turn. Looked up your bio. WOW, very, very impressive. Congratulations on your amazing start in literature and your many awards. Looking forward to your next book after I go back and read this one from the start. A unique perspective on a totally foreign culture = fascinating reading.
Jim, thank you so much for writing and sharing. I was very afraid when I wrote this piece that I would inadvertently do evil in some way. Many thoughtful people believe in adding teacher recommendations, for example, but I know that not all teachers are kind or thoughtful. I have had some incredible teachers who changed my life, but I have also had teachers who thought I was dumb because my English was flawed, teachers who already had their favorites and I wasn’t one of them, teachers who simply didn’t like me. I’ve seen teachers discriminate against African American students. So something needs to be done because African Americans and Latinos are not being reached but I don’t know if carelessly adding more criteria is going to help those kids. It means a lot to me to hear your story, thank you!
Just read your very moving piece on your Hunter experience; I’ve been with a Hunter alumnae for 40 years, and share your sentiments about the school. My experience with access via testing was complementary to yours, although vastly different in context. I was always viewed by my teachers as inattentive a little weird, and not from the right social/economic/ethnic background. If not for the elementary school standardized tests I would probably have been labeled as “slow” and been in real trouble. My 9th grade home room teacher, who I also had for algebra, thought I was a waste case and never would have recommended me as a candidate for a specialized school. If I needed a portfolio, I would have been doomed. But with a perfect score on the verbal and a decent math score, I got in; it changed my life and may have saved it. There were lots of ways to get in trouble in a blue collar neighborhood transitioning to a slum in the Bronx, 69-72. My years at Science weren’t smooth either, but it was where I belonged.
Anyway, thanks for writing the article and expressing well the sentiments of many, good-luck with the new book.
Julie, I’m so glad you enjoyed Girl in Translation! I’ve thought about it but I’m not sure which quote from the book you mean – it certainly is very true to what Ma is thinking! If I find it at some point, I’ll be sure to let you know. And please say hi to your book club for me!
Hi! I loved Girl in Translation! I also wish you would write your own memoir!!
There was a quote from the book that I loved that I cannot remember – it was something about how her mother didn’t have the luxury of being able to worry about what her daughter was doing… Does that ring a bell? If so, could you let me know the exact quote! I thought it was very powerful & wanted to share it with my book club (we just got done reading your book!).
The launch will be on Tuesday 24 June 2014 at the Asian American Writers Workshop. It’s the first event in the list. You should register if you can, the event is free. There will be copies of the book for sale at the reading and I’ll be giving a short talk with photos and signing books there. I hope this helps, Renee! The list of my upcoming events is here: http://jeankwok.com/events.shtml
I am not sure which event is for the Mambo in Chinatown lauch what date is that.one do I have to register for that event and by the way are you going to be giving away your book Mambo in Chinatown and signing autographs.
Renee, the only two books I’ve written so far are Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. I would love to say hi to you in New York City if you get the chance to come to one of my events! I’m doing two events in NY. They’re both free and you need to register for the first one, which is on the evening of the Mambo in Chinatown launch. The information is here: http://jeankwok.com/events.shtml
Are you coming to New York city to sign your new copy of the Mambo in Chinatown or Girls in Translation or just talk about the books to wrote it would be nice if you visit New York City I wouldlovr to meet with you.
Dear Jean, I finally overcome my sadness in contacting you. I missed your dear late brother very much and am still wondering what if….. I was the scientist that he came to know and worked with during the 2000’s. I was living in Idaho Falls, ID and Kwan used to come and spent time with me working with us. Just a note to let you know that I loved him and miss him very much…..
I’m so glad that you enjoyed my book! I know that feeling of not wanting to leave a book you love, and I’m honored my book was such a book for you. Kimberly does appear very briefly in Mambo in Chinatown with a mystery love interest, so you’ll get to see her again if only for a few pages! Let me quickly give you a few answers.
1. I’m very happy you liked Matt! Like so many of my characters, he’s a conglomeration of different people I’ve known throughout my life plus a healthy dash of imagination thrown in. What many readers really want to know is if such a great men exist, and I would assure you that they do. Then they want his phone number but I’m afraid I can’t release that! For other similarities between my life and my books, look at Jean’s Story here: http://www.jeankwok.com/author.shtml
2. No, I have so many friends from different countries and ethnicities. In fact, one of the things I try to show in my books is that people can be so different from stereotypes, and that both kindness and cruelty can be found in any ethnic group.
3. Hard work is never easy. I think that in the end, it comes down to how much you want something. I can slack off and procrastinate just as much as anyone else, but when it comes down to it and I can either get a good night’s sleep or stay up and finish something I need to do, I’ll stay up and do it. In the end, I think that working as hard as you can on what you truly want to do gives you the deepest happiness and satisfaction.
4. I think first generation immigrants tend more to cluster in groups and then later generations often move further, although there are always exceptions. A balance is best, I think, of keeping ties to the culture while exploring further.
5. Kimberly and Ma certainly didn’t receive much help and a part of that was also that they didn’t know how to ask for help. I think that the situation has improved, with bilingual guidance and the like, but there is always room for improvement.
6. Each reader has a different conversation with my book and I’m very glad of that. Every reader takes away something slightly different. However, my own hope was that people would begin to see people who were different or foreign in a new way, that they might look upon the world with a bit more compassion.
Kathy, what serendipity! I’m very glad that a signed copy of my book made it into you hands – some things are meant to be. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I love hearing that reading my book may have changed the way you interact with people from different cultures but I’m sure that your kindness and smile meant a great deal anyway. I do visit book clubs sometimes but I’m afraid right now is a very busy time for me with Skype interviews because of the upcoming release of Mambo in Chinatown. I very much appreciate the thought, though, and please say hi to all of your book club members for me! Why don’t you add your book club to my map so I know where you are? In any case, thanks for getting in touch and if my book tour brings me to your area (under the Events tab), I’d love to meet you and the other members of your book club in person! Warmly, Jean
I am a high school student in Canada, who discovered your book because of a project I am working on about immigration experiences. The book I read was “Girl in Translation” and I really liked it. I guess I can kind of connect to Kimberly as I was also from Hong Kong and I barely knew any English when I first came to Canada. You made the character Kimberly so realistic and I could not put the book down once I started reading. After I finish the book, I felt a little sad and empty because I was so into the book that when finish the book, I did not even want to come back to my real life. I loved how you used first person to narrate the story and bring the readers in it. I did a little research and understand that the book was based on your experience in some ways. I just have a few questions and if you can answer them for me, that would be great. (kind of like an online interview? I would be great information for my project! It would be great if you actually have time to do one for me via email? <- but I understand that you are busy!) If you will not be able answer, it's ok too; I just want to say, I loved it! I borrowed it from a library but I will go buy my own copy so I can treasure it forever!
Here are the questions:
1. How much of the novel are true? Was Matt someone you met throughout your life or was he a made up character? (on a side note, I was totally in love with him; like his personality, how he treated Kimberly, etc.)
2. Do you feel like you have any bias while writing the book? (eg. towards Black / White people?)
3. How was Kimberly (or you) able to maintain such a high average while working several jobs? (time for study?)
4. Do you think immigrants tend to stay in their religious / ethic group? (like how Matt and other people from the factory lived and stayed mostly in Chinatown)
5. Do you think that immigrants receive much help form the government? (because in the book, the government did not seem to give much help to Kimberly and Ma)
6. Was there any particular messages / point of view / conclusion you wanted to tell the readers? Did you think you were effective? How did you do so? (I did find something, but I am not sure what I got is the same as what you wanted to bring out)
Lastly, I would like to say this again, I LOVE YOUR BOOK! After I finish all my projects and exams, I would definitely find a time to read Mambo in Chinatown; and re-read Girl in Translation over and over again! This has become one of my favorite book! Thank you for such a great book!
I chose your book “Girl In Translation” for our book club (Friday Night Book Club-FNBC for short) for the month of May 2014. Believe it or not, I purchased this treasure at our local Hastings store. It was a used book and when I opened the cover….it was a signed copy!!!!
After reading your story I feel honored to have your signature in my book. Thank you for using your talent to take me to a place I never thought would have existed. I was totally mesmerized by your story of being a child in a new country and all the adversities you faced.
I am the manager of the kitchen of our largest high school in St. Joseph Missouri. I have the opportunity daily to interact with students of different cultures and backgrounds. There are many times I cannot understand what they are saying and wish I could communicate with them. I am always kind and smile, but your book has given me more compassion for them.
I don’t know if you ever visit book clubs, but if you do it would be a great honor to have you.
Mary Jane, I’m so glad you enjoyed Girl in Translation and I’m absolutely honored that I’m the first author you’ve ever approached. I didn’t know about the Real Simple article, so that’s really wonderful as well! Thank you for your very kind words and for taking the time to get in touch! Warmly, Jean
Dear Jean, I just finished reading your first book and I was so moved by it that I wanted to thank you. I have read a lot of books in my seventy years but you are the first author I have ever written to. I was reading Real Simple and they said you new book was a “must read” for summer. I looked it up and found it was not out yet. I am sure it will be wonderful but Girl in Translation touched my heart. You are a marvelous writer and I hope to enjoy many more books from you. Sincerely, Mary Jane Marmo
Thea, I’m thrilled you enjoyed my book! I’m afraid I think I won’t be coming to Michigan or Ohio in the near future but if things change, my events are posted here: http://www.jeankwok.com/events.shtml
I really hope we get to say hi in person someday soon!
Thank you for your story! It really opened my eyes to what immigrants go through in coming to a new country. I liked the fact that it was a story but based on truth. I only wish there was more and look forward to your next book!
I’m a young woman from Finland. I found your Girl in Translation in library and I read it in English. I’m happy I could read it in its original language. Despite of qualified translations it’s not the same to read a translated book. I really enjoyed the unforgettable story of Kimberly and her Ma. I want to thank you about this amazing reading experience!
As it was said in some book review, you can’t see the world same after reading this book. I has lived for an half year in States and what surprised me most there was the still existing racial lines between whites and the others. It was a weird feeling to live there and feel you as a foreigner. Of course my experiences were far away from yours; I hadn’t economical or any other real problems there. But I learned what it was that people are polite for you but not really interested in your life or background. Since then I’ve read many books about immigrants and about life of African American people.
Stephanie, I wanted to get back to you about ordering MAMBO IN CHINATOWN in Australia – it appears that there is some flux regarding who exactly is going to distribute my international English editions at the moment, which is why it’s not yet possible for you to order for Kindle in Australia. However, I’m sure this will be settled very soon. Please just try to re-order in the coming months and if it’s still difficult, check back in with me and let me know, okay? Thanks a lot and I really hope you’ll enjoy it!
Carol, I’m so honored to be one of 5 titles being considered! My novel will be translated into Chinese by China CITIC Press, into simplified characters. I’m afraid I have no idea how much the book will cost. It was also one of CHINA DAILY’s top 10 reads. In any case, thanks for getting in touch.
Stephanie, I appreciate it very much that you tried to pre-order MAMBO IN CHINATOWN! I’m sorry it didn’t work, probably because you’re located in Australia. I am trying to figure out who the right person to ask would be about this problem. I’ll get back to you when I know more, okay? Thanks again!
Thanks for replying to me, I really appreciate it when such busy people take time to reply to their fans! Anyway, I tried to pre-order MAMBO on my Kindle and it wouldn’t let me, it said this item is not available or something :s
If it helps, I live in Australia so perhaps you could ask your publisher to make it available to all countries or something? Thank you so much, as I’m really eager to read MAMBO
Hi Jean! I just finished reading “Girl in translation” and I really enjoyed it.
I feel i can identify to Kimberly in many ways. I was brought
to NY from Brazil when I was 14 and I did not know any english. I have lived
in some bad apartments and still to day simetimes i feel i dont
fit in. I’m 30 years old now, working full-time while still trying to
graduate from Hunter College.
It’s a tough life but at the end of the day I feel very blessed
for all the opprtunities I have now.
I’ve just finished your book GIRL IN TRANSLATION and I loved it! You’re a really good writer and I found the perspective of a young child immigrant fascinating. I’m eagerly anticipating your next book, and I was just wondering, will it be available on the Kindle?
It makes me really happy to hear that you enjoyed my book, Renee! There are people who are already involved in making Girl in Translation into a film, and there is interest in the film rights for Mambo in Chinatown as well, so I hope too that we will see these books as movies someday. Come back and let me know what you think of Mambo in Chinatown after you read it, okay? Thanks for getting in touch.
I sure will love the book Mambo in Chinatown! I just wish Girl in Translation was a movie, I would love to watch it just as I loved reading the book. Maybe later on you will have a movie based on the two books you wrote. Can’t wait to purchase the book Mambo in Chinatown, so excited.
I’m honored you want to read all of my books, Renee! Girl in Translation was my first book and my second one is Mambo in Chinatown, so you are right, that’s it so far. I’m working on my third book but it’ll be a while before that one’s done. I really hope you like Mambo in Chinatown!
How many books have you wrote so far because I will like know so I can read all of them I have only read Girl In Translation which was a very good book and I will just like to read more books from you but I don’t know if you wrote any more books I just know you have a new book coming out in June call mambo in chinatown
Maya, I’m sorry about the delay in approving this post! Somehow, it only appeared now in my alerts. In any case, I chose Girl in Translation as the title because the book is about a young girl who has to translate herself in between cultures, again and again. The title has deliberate echoes of the expression “lost in translation,” reminding the reader of all that we cannot fully translate from one world to another.
Priyanka, it’s very nice to hear from you and I really enjoyed my visit to the American School of the Hague! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! I hope I’ll come and visit you guys again for my second book. I did teach at Leiden U. but I stopped after publishing Girl in Translation. Thanks for getting in touch! Jean
Dear Ms. Kwok,
My name is Priyanka (in sixth grade) and I go to school at the American School of the Hague. I finished your book Girl in Translation and I LOVED it, it is full of emotion and you described them very well. It is really nice that you teach at Leiden University.
I Hope you can visit us any time soon!
I’m half way through your book, “Girl In Translation”. We are required to read it for Ms. Yobbi’s class. I just want to say that you are an amazing writer, and she told us stories about you. Kimberly Chang is an inspiration, she never gave up. I absolutely love your book. Take care <3
So sad to have finished Girl In Translation this afternoon. What an awesome story. Am looking forward to all your new works!!
Congratulations on an excellent book and best luck in your future writings!!
Diana, I’m so happy to hear this! My new novel is coming out in 2014 and although it’s not about Kimberly, she will make a very short appearance in it along with a mystery character, so we’ll find out more about her future then. Rest assured that she and Ma are doing just fine. I’m glad to hear your daughters want to read the book as well – I always think it helps in Mom-appreciation! Hope to meet you all in person someday!
I just finished reading” Girl in Translation ” and truely found it inspiring. I looked forward with anticipation each evening to get to read. I liked how you tied everything up in the epilogue. I did have difficulty in figuring out which decade the story was taking place until Regan was mentioned. I do like it when an author identifies the time frame up front. I look forward to future reads from you! In case you are interested in your reader demographics, I am a 56 year old mother and Registered Nurse. Both of my daughters (ages 23 & 26) have expressed an interest in reading this book so it appeals to a wide age range!
WOW! I just finished your book. What an inspiring and moving story. I had no idea this goes on in our country. I hope they make your book into a movie so that more people will learn about the true price of clothing. Thank you for writing it and sharing your own story with the world. I am going to tell all my friends about your book. May God continue to bless you as you teach the world.
good morning again, thank you very much for good post I am looking forward to read your next book, I hope it translated into Spanish and to know your name because you are a good writer and a good person, Greetings Sara atia
I am happy you were touched by the book. Please know that Kimberly and Ma find their own happiness and turn out just fine. My new novel will be out next year in 2014, and it is not about Kimberly, but Kimberly is in one very short scene and you can learn more about her future love life there – she is really okay and very happy. Thank you for caring about her. All my best wishes to you – Jean
good morning lady jean I was moved a lot by this book at the end of the novel if one day be together would make me very happy that would make the second part of girl in translation will occur to know that I felt so sorry that I got sick, well kind regards
Hi Verena, Thanks so much and I’m so glad you enjoyed my novel! I’m thrilled that you are rereading it – I only did that with very special books for me as well. I’m honored it’s my book for you. Kimberly will make a very short appearance in my new novel, which isn’t about her but about another wonderful heroine. It will be out in 2014. I really appreciate your kind words.
Although late but Congratulations on the Publication of Girl in Translation.
It is such an inspiring story and well thought through.
We all know when someone loves to read they always have that one Book with them that they. For me it is Girl in Translation. I carry it with me all the time and no matter how many times I read it, it is still captivating with each word I read and still inspiring to do what is installed in you.
Your Book never fails to leave me astonished and just mesmerized. I love it and can’t wait for more of your books, Kimberly and Ma in it or not. You are a great Author with a talent of using words that will leave you breathless and wanting more
Julie, I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! I don’t think I’ll be writing a sequel but yes, many readers want to see the characters again so in my new novel, Kimberly and a mystery character make a very brief appearance and we’ll find out much more about her future love life. Rest assured that Kimberly and Ma are just fine. Just note that Goodbye Chinatown Is NOT the title of my new book, that is the German translation of GIRL IN TRANSLATION and they chose an English title for it. The new title is still secret but will be revealed soon, pub date in 2014. I’ll make sure to post the info on my website. Thanks again for getting in touch!
My teacher book club is enjoying Girl in Translation for our next meeting
and my job is to find out what an antique red silk stomach protector looks like. Google gave me some weird photos. Is it like a pretty camisole
but tied on with ribbons? Love your writing. You say much in few words.
Jean, Girl in Translation went straight to my heart. It left me wanting to know more about the characters and how their lives turn out. I wonder if you ever consider writing another part to the story. I could imagine one that finds the characters ten – fifteen years down the road, maybe when Jason is all grown up. I could imagine another book twenty to thirty years down the road, one where Matt and Kimberly cross paths and get together in the end.
I will look for ‘Goodbye Chinatown’ next.
Thank you for a thought provoking book I will recommend to my friends.
I think that this main idea is a valid one that can be supported by the book. In the analysis of literature, it’s up to the reader to draw out the main themes and ideas and to substantiate them using examples from the book, not the author. For example, Freudian analysis of Shakespeare’s plays can be done, even though Freud was born many years after Shakespeare wrote his works – this is valid because the richness of Shakespeare’s plays supports the analysis. I hope this is helpful! I’m abroad right now, so can only check Internet once in a while. Good luck with your report!
I was wondering what the main idea of your book is. I think the main idea is with hard work comes great success and that the decisions we make now will affect our future (the hard choice could end up being the right choice). I want to know if my main idea is correct corresponding to yours.
Sebastian, I’m very glad you enjoyed my book and chose it for your book report! I wish you also the best of luck in your writing as well. My book was published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin, on April 29, 2010. Riverhead is based in NYC but my book has been published in 17 countries total, the list of foreign countries is on my website here: http://jeankwok.com/book.shtml
Jean your book was so good. Even at the beginning of the book I knew I had chosen the right book for my book report. I would start reading at like 11:00 pm and find myself still reading at 1:00 am. When I had about two pages left in the book i didn’t want to read them because I did not want the book to end. The story was amazing and I found myself on an emotional roller coaster. I would cry, I would feel happiness, and I would feel anger. I aspire to be a great writer like you someday.
Just finished reading “Girl In Translation,” and thoroughly enjoyed it. People take different things away from books, and what I took away from yours was the strength, discipline and perseverance shown by Kimberly, the main character. After reading of her struggles, I felt compelled to be more thrifty with my money and to become better at everything I do. Thank you for a great literary work.
It’s so great to hear from you! I almost managed to make it to one of your shows when I was in NYC last but it was the week after I left. Best of luck to you with your writing and really hope to catch up in person someday soon!
Dear Jean, I just finished your book, Girl in Translation. I bought it because I found the subject interesting. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. It was a real eye opener to the struggles of immigrants coming to this country. I can’t find words to describe the emotions I felt. It has become one of the books that I will remember always. I visit Chinatown with my daughter, and even though I know it was fiction based on facts, I will think of Kimberly and the other characters in your book. Thank you for writing such a powerful story. I look forward to watching for future books. Take care. Donna
Hi Jean! Since we are both mentioned in the Hunter Alum Notes article on artist grads, I read about and was intrigued by your childhood sweatshop experience. Wanting to learn more, I followed the link to your site and read your bio. What an amazing life you’ve lived! And how little I knew about you at Hunter. I wish you all the best in your calling as a writer. I am now working on my first book, a nonfiction thing about our relationship with music. I tour Europe often, so maybe our paths will cross in the Netherlands one day. Glad to learn a bit about you! – Michael
Thanks so much for writing and sharing your story with me. How wonderful that we have so much in common! My new book will be coming out next year and I really hope you like it as well. I’m so glad you got in touch!
I bought this book unexpectedly due to your biography being somewhat similar to mine. I immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn in ’95 at the age of 5, watching my single mother worked very hard to earn a living and giving me the very best.
After reading Kim’s journey in your book – I felt reminiscent of my past as well. From having a best friend since elementary school, to ‘hooking’ up with guys at school, and living in a dingy apartment, these stories were as if they were mine (even if they were not remotely close to my own life).
I want to thank you, for sharing such a wonderful and aspiring story. It has really given me more appreciation of my cantonese heritage, as well as how thankful I am to be in America and gained the opportunities that I have.
I cannot wait to read another one of your stories!
I found this gem at the Dollar General in Oklahoma for $2 and I started late that evening and stayed up until 4am finishing the book. I could not put it down! Thank you sharing your wonderful art with the world!
You made me very happy with your answer. It is great to hear such nice words about my people and my country, from you. Last year, I and my hubby had a little visit to Amsterdam. We also enjoyed the country.
I will send you the Turkish translation of the book when it is published.
Have a great life:)
Cigdem, I’m so happy to hear from you! My family and I go to Kusadasi every year on holiday. We really enjoy being in Turkey. The people are so warm as well. I was especially interested in when the Turkish version would be available because I have some Turkish friends here in Holland, and I’d love to give them a book. Thank you for working on my book and getting in touch! If you talk to my Turkish publisher, please let them know that I’d love to get a few books!
I am your translator:) Yes, I translated your book to Turkish, here in Turkey.
I just wanted to say “hi” and congrulate you. It is an amazing story.So real, so touchy…I had a great time while translating your novel.
Looking forward to read your next book.
Have a wonderful life:)
I just finished reading your book, and I loved it. Picked it up randomly at the library, and could hardly put it down until it was finished. Why was it so easy to identify with Kimberley when my life has been nothing like hers? I believe your story shows that we are all somehow One.
I worked as a Dutch- English translator for years as well. I think it’s a wonderful profession and indeed, helped inspire me with the ideas for this book. I’m very glad you enjoyed it and thank you for getting in touch!
Thank you. I am a translator and loved the way you made your culture and your language characters in the book rather than obstacles to be overcome. When I picked up the book, I thought it was going to talk about my line of work. Once I started reading it, I became part of the story because I could relate to so many things in it.
Seth, I enjoyed the City of Asylum reading greatly and am so pleased that you not only enjoyed my book but shared it with a good friend. I’m touched you would like to replace your signed copy and will email you to make arrangements.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know, my family was so grateful to have work of any sort. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book and wish you and your family all the best.
It’s so nice of you to think of me! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. I’ll email you separately about the questions you have. Please say hi to the members of your book club for me!
Some time back, you spoke at an event in Pittsburgh, PA, which was hosted by City of Asylum. I was in attendance and still remember being moved when you spoke of your brother. I purchased a copy of Girl in Translation that day, which you were kind enough to sign. I read the book over the next two days and loved it. I then shared it with a good friend who immigrated from Vietnam with her family, when she was a young girl – “Boat People.” She also loved the book, but unfortunately, left it behind in the hotel room where she had finished reading it on a business trip; attempts to retrieve it were unsuccessful. I have since replaced it in my library, but for a long time have been bothered by the loss of your personal touch on the book.
I know this must seem a bit foolish, but I was wondering if I could send you my copy for you to sign and return.
Just finished the book and loved it. It brought back memories of growing up in Chinatown in Oakland, California. While we were not as poor as Kimberely, my siblings and I experienced similar situations in school. It also brought back the memory of how happy my mother was when she got a “job” and getting paid pennies for each piece. I can’t wait to read you next book.
I have recently set up a book club at Wageningen university for staff members. We read and discussed your book Girl in Translation and loved it. My book club members (a group of 7) would like to meet you and ask questions about your book. We would like to invite you to our university?
Ellen, I’m so glad you care about Annette! She is a composite character but was mainly based on a very good friend of mine, Sari, and we are still very close! She is actually a writer as well and working with her agent on her first novel – I’ve read it and it’s fantastic. I will post on my Facebook page when her novel is published. A Dutch television documentary (with English subtitles) was filmed about me and my life, and Sari and her mother are interviewed in it! We meet again in their house. The link is here: http://jeankwok.com/video_jean.shtml
Hi Myrna and Olivia,
Please call me Jean. First of all, I think Mr. Matthew Kay is awesome too for assigning my book, and nurturing such enthusiastic students!
1) I’ve just finished my second novel and it will be coming out in the early part of next year! The publication process always takes at least a year. I’m very excited about it. It’s about a poor Chinatown girl who works as a dishwasher in a noodle restaurant. She winds up with a job in a ballroom dance studio and just as she’s beginning to train as a dancer, her little sister gets sick. My heroine realizes that the only way she’ll earn the money to save her little sister is by winning a big dance competition.
I also worked as a professional ballroom dancer for three years in between my degrees at Harvard and Columbia.
And Kimberly appears in this novel for a cameo! We will see her and a mystery character, and we’ll find out a bit more about her future. Rest assured that Kimberly and Ma will be just fine.
2) There are so many difficult moments growing up. My book is about an immigrant girl but I think everyone experiences those feelings of feeling left out and misunderstood. As I’m thinking about your question, I’m coming up with some funny memories.
I started at a school where I wasn’t treated well, like in my book, but I moved to another school where the teachers were much kinder to me. I remember my teacher once handed me something that looked like a book. In Hong Kong, I’d always won prizes and been given things like books. So I clasped it to my chest and said, “Dank you!” with tears of joy in my eyes. My teacher looked at me a bit strangely. I couldn’t speak much English then. I wasn’t sure what I’d won but was very proud to have been given something again. I took that book home.
Later, I was poring over it even though I couldn’t read and realized that all of the pages were the same! Oh well, this was surely an American custom. I cherished my prize. Months later, another child started going around the room, pulling off the pages of a book just like mine, and giving them to all the kids! I finally understood. The “book” was actually a bunch of order forms for plants and seeds, and I’d been meant to distribute the pages to the class! Instead, I’d taken it home and kept it. My poor teacher. But she never let me know that it wasn’t the honor I’d thought it was.
Thanks so much to all of you for getting in touch. I’m thrilled you’re reading my book in your class.
Dear Jean Kwok,
We are students of Science Leadership Academy, we were assigned to read this book by our awesome English teach Mr. Matthew Kay. We are now discussing your book in class and we have a few questions to ask you if you don’t mind.
1. Will you have a second book coming out?
2. What were some of the most difficult times you faced when you were in Brooklyn but wasn’t included in the book?
We really love your book and are very eager to known more about you story. Thank you for writing such a wonderful story, it is very inspiring.
Hi Jenny, I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! Please thank Sophia for recommending my book to you as well. My new book will be on the shelves in the spring of next year. It’s very nice to be in touch with you. Thanks for writing and do say hi to Sophia for me!
Jean, I work in a toy store in the village where I live and a customer recommended your book to me. We have become good friend (her name is Sophia, in New Jersey) and I know she has been in contact with you too. I have to say I loved your book and do hope that another book will be forthcoming! I was born in Hong Kong and lived there for the first 17 years of my life, so I felt an immediate connection with your story!
Alisha, it’s always nice to hear! I’m so glad that my book helped you look at your Asian friends in a new way. I’ve just finished my new novel and it’ll be on the shelves in about a year or so! It’s about a poor Chinatown girl who becomes a professional ballroom dancer, then realizes that the only way to save her sick little sister is by winning a prestigious dance competition. I hope you like it when it comes out! And thank you for taking the time to get in touch with me. Jean
Jean- I’m sure you hear this all the time but you seriously need to write another book! It really made me look at my Asian friends with new eyes and appreciation for some of their struggles that I know they’ve been through, but don’t complain about. This is the kind of book you can read several times, picking up new ideas each time. Thanks for the wonderful book! -Alisha
Thank you so much for sharing your story. When I first moved to the US, I did terribly in English as well. I think that it is very lonely for those of us who have to start again in a completely different culture and language. I am sure that your time will come. My advice is to take things one step at a time. Do your best with what you can do now and don’t get discouraged. So many things that seem impossible will become possible as you live and learn.
I’m very glad my book meant something to you. That was my deepest hope when I wrote it, that it would speak to someone who was in a situation like mine. You are not alone and I am sure you will do just fine. I have my fingers crossed for you!
How wonderful that you stayed up to hear how my book ended! I hope you weren’t too tired the next day but I’m truly honored. Thank you for your comments about a sequel. Maybe I should think about it. I wouldn’t make it a full book unless it deserved to be, but maybe I could do something short, simply for fans. The problem is, so many books to write, so little time. But in any case, I appreciate your thoughts. Kimberly and a mystery character make a brief appearance in my new novel, and in any case, rest assured that everyone is fine.
First of all I want to say sorry, for my English. I am bad on it. But I hope you understand what I write.
Omg, I haven’t any words for your book. I finished it Last night, and it was amazing. I swear it made me cry. It is obviously the best book I ever have read! And when I mean the best book, I mean it. I love reading. I have read loads of books, and this is obviously the best.
Sorry, for my English. I bad on it.
I’m a girl on 15 , and living on Norway. I am a Asian girl, and immigrated to Norway when I was 8-9 years old. I immigrated from a country where it is war. Afghanistan. Actually I am not only Afghan, I’m a kind of Mongolian too because my great great grandfather were from Mongolia. And I know how it is to left your friends and family. I have still some of my family members there.
I have and had a kind of, the same life as Kimberly Maybe I had it better than her. But I could be her. I want to have her life. She had at least a true friend, and a good family/mother. Since I immigrated to Norway, I had never a true friend. And haven’t still got one. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I haven’t done anything to them. I don’t know anything at all!
I want and have also to be a doctor. It is the only way for me to get a good life in the future. I do the best I can at school. But it isn’t enough, my grades is not good enough. I have B, almost on all the subjects. But it isn’t enough. And my English and Norwegian. I have a C on it. I try everything I can, but I can’t get any better grades. I don’t know why.
Do you have any tips for me?
Yeah, enough about me. I loved the book, and it is the best inspiration for me to get through school. And don’t give up my dream. I swear it mad me cry, and I still think about the book.
Thank you so much, for writing the book. By the way, I read it on Norwegian, but I am going to buy the original soon. On English. And read it.
I a huge fan of you, I don’t know if I can call me your biggest fan, maybe someone is more fan of you than me. I can call me a big fan of you and I love you . Thank you SO much for writhing his book.
I checked out Girl In Translation via audiobook from my local library and started listening to it on Christmas Eve. I fell asleep around 10:30 PM with it still playing, only to awake around midnight and back up to where I’d left off. I stayed awake until 6:30 AM on Christmas morning when the book ended. Thank you so much for such a poignant, intriguing, fascinating book.
I hope I’m not being too forward as I beg you for a sequel. So many questions; I hope you will give your readers some answers. Earlier this year I discovered Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. You cannot imagine how happy I was to find that she has just released a sequel, Dreams of Joy. Discovering it felt like a personal gift. Perhaps I’m being overly zealous, but I hope you can see the opportunity in this for your readers, as well as for yourself.
I just finished “Girl in Translation”, and it was honestly the best book I’ve read all year, and in quite a long while too. I couldn’t put it down! All the emotions felt so real that I felt as though I was right there with Kimberly. I will be re-reading it over and over for a very long time.
It’s so nice to hear from you and I’m very happy you enjoyed my book! I taught ESL myself for much of my life and worked as a Dutch-to-English translator here in Holland until I quit to write full-time. I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season and wish you a fantastic new year!
How I love reading “Girl in Translation.” It is always exciting when a book comes my way that “I can hardly put down.”
Why “Girl in Translation?” For one, it is believable, and it takes readers into a world that, quite possibly, they are unfamiliar with — sweatshops and ice cold apartment life in New York City.
Next, Kimberly’s budding romances. The details are precious, not overboard, and also believable (a bit like your fellow Hollander, Anne Frank’s adolescent infatuation, but NOT confined).
Another wonderful point: the way in which you continually spice up the novel with Cantonese pronunciations of English words (“really state agent”) — and the way you explain many Cantonese sayings (‘”They think I’m sending out the cat.” Cheating.’).
I am looking forward to all your upcoming books.
LW. Age 71, Retired foreign language teacher and occasional Japanese-to-English translator
It’s so nice to be in touch and thank you for letting me know you enjoyed my book! Very interesting to hear about your son and his wife, and that you’re in Amsterdam too! When my new novel comes out, I’ll be doing events both in Holland and the US, so I hope to meet you and your wife at one of them in person sometime soon.
Dear Jean Kwok,
I’ve just finished reading Girl in Translation. It is one of the most gripping books I’ve read in a long time. Having myself lived in the USA for many years it was easy for me to “see” Brooklyn from Kimberly’s eyes and follow her aspirations about college and a decent profession. My son just got married to a woman whose parents immigrated to the USA from Taiwan, and her entire family has become very academically successful. Her birthday is coming soon and I was thinking of sending her your book as a present. The acknowledgments page caught me by surprise, getting to realize that you now live in Holland, since I myself moved with my wife to Amsterdam 6 years ago. Wishing you best of luck with your current and future writings. Doron Gil
Thank you for your kind words! I hope your husband enjoys my book as well. I am very happy the book has been adopted into the reading lists of high schools and universities – it means a lot to me on a personal level.
All my best to you as well!
I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! I’m afraid I won’t be writing a sequel but Kimberly and a mystery character will make a cameo appearance in my new book. You’ll find out more about what happens to her. I’m glad you feel like they’re so real – they are to me too!
What a wonderful book! I just finished it this morning and now plan to pass it on to my husband. You bring such insight and awareness to those of us who have not experienced the challenges that many people must face.
This would be a perfect book for every high school’s reading curriculum. It is both broadening and inspiring.
Best wishes to you!
Is it true that you’re not writing a sequel to the”girl in translation?” I honestly love this book and when I read it, I could feel as if the characters are real. I hope that there is a sequel to this book. I enjoyed it! You did a great job!
I just finished reading your Hunter High School graduation speech in AlumNotes. It was so beautiful and profound, and so true. I felt like you were writing it to me – and to the alumni that I stay in touch with (class of 73). I am looking forward to reading your book,
I’m so pleased to hear this! Very glad you enjoyed my book and appreciate it very much that you’re sharing with loved ones. Thank you for taking the time and effort to let me know.
Dear Jean: I just finished your book “Girl in Translation.” I had not imagined the chasm that immigrants need to navigate to exist in the American world. It was very enlightening to me. Your book will be a Christmas present to my friends and family so they can enjoy and learn also. Thank you for your courage. Sincerely, Meredith Boeger
You have such an interesting story and I wish you all the best in finding an agent. Remember that agents were put on earth to reject the rest of us, so don’t take it personally if you get a rejection. Just keep going. See if you get any helpful comments along the way and adapt accordingly. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you! And please do come by and say hi if I give a reading in your area at some point.
Thank you so much for your how to list of how to go from complete unknown to published author. I read beyond #1 so that tells you something about me. I am the daughter of a Korean immigrant and an American solider. I am 48 years old and my mother’s experience coming to America ( even with an American husband) with a young baby (me) still parallels some of your character’s immigrant struggles that you describe so eloquently in “Girl in Translation”. I appreciate your wonderful writing, but also that you share your experiences as a writer with those of us aspiring to be published. Perhaps my WIP, “The Grace of Kimchi” will be joining yours on a shelf in the not too distant future. I am almost finished with the first draft and then will work with some writing friends to edit it into shape for submission to my list of dream agents. Maybe someday after I am published (hopeful thinking) My husband is from Norway and we have many friends in The Netherlands. I also have two sons 11 & 9. We might have some things in common to chat about. Perhaps our paths will cross someday. Once again thank you and may your next title be even more successful than the first! Cerrissa Kim
I really try to respond to readers if I can because I know how busy everyone is and I very much appreciate it when someone takes the time and effort to let me know they’ve read my book. I’m so happy you liked Girl in Translation and yes, my new book has just been finished so it should be on the bookshelves soon. I’ll post on Facebook and Twitter and on my website as soon as I know more. Kimberly does appear in it very briefly with a mystery character – of course I can’t say more at this moment! Thanks again for getting in touch!
Please call me Jean and thank you for sharing your story with me. I think so many immigrants have had a hard time like we did. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you in school and I’m sure you will find your way. Good luck to you
Hi Jean, I just got to say thanks for responding to all your comments. It’s cool that you actually get to talk with the author; most authors I have read have no idea who I am. Just another reader. So the fact you respond to these comments is really nice. Thanks.
I love your book (Girl in Translation). When I first got it, I was expecting something simpler, kind of like the author Wendy Mass who I read a few years ago. I knew, though, since that second paragraph about the winds of fate, that this book was defiantly not going to be like that. Also, every author has their own writing style, there was something different about yours, not something that screams “different”, but a difference neither the less. I also liked how you played out Kim and Matt. Also, I heard about another novel you’re writing; I’m excited for it, and you’ve only published Girl in Traslation? I would be happy to read your others books. In some of the comments I read, in the future book Kim would apprear with someone. Just wondering. Amazing job! Bye!
Hi Ms. Kwok!
First off, I really loved your book! I am glad you wrote about it because immigrants like myself struggle to get used to such a change. School was not a fun place and a one bedroom apartment was not my first choice for a home. Now I am in high school finding my way! I am glad I pick up your book. It was so beautiful and inspirational, that I might even start writing again.
Thank You !!!
Thanks so much for your lovely comment! It really means a lot to me and I’m very glad you enjoyed my book. Just so you know, Kimberly and a mystery character will make a small cameo appearance in my next novel, so you’ll be able to find out a bit about what happens to her in the future. I need to be careful with the discussion of the ending here because I don’t want to spoil it for reader who may not have finished the book yet, but basically the ending was about Kimberly choosing to become the person she needed to be. She chooses her own future and to be true to herself. The final image of the open door is indeed to show how she will move forward, with strength. I’ll send you a separate email. In any case, thank you again for your very kind words and I hope to meet you in person the next time I’m in town!
I cannot begin to describe how much I adore and admire your work. Your artistry, the care you took not only in choosing your words but how you allowed the journey to unfold – my words are unfit to relay my gratitude…
You recently spoke at Wright State and I deeply regret not being able to get out of work obligations to come see you.
I MUST ask you – You mentioned in the acknowledgements your friend who showed you “the right way to end the book” – While I know you must be terribly busy and flooded with fan-mail, I must tell you how utterly intrigued I am by your ending. What were you trying to say? What was the message you were trying to share? A friend of mine and I were having an intense discussion of the impactful closing image, and I would love to have a discussion with you about what your intent was for the ending.
You so masterfully crafted all aspects of the journey, I would die to have the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss the many facets of your book, but seeing as that is such a remarkable request, is there any other media through which you might be willing to answer some of my questions??
Again, what a stunningly moving piece of art. Thank you so much for igniting my passions and stirring my spirit! You are truly a gift to the world!
I absolutely loved your book and had trouble putting it down. It was so moving and so emotional. I felt like I was living with Kimberly and her Mom in that cold dirty apartment. Your writing pulled me right in the story from the beginning. I must say, the end was a suprise and not at all how I thought it woudl end. Well done.
It’s so nice to hear from you! I’m really glad you enjoyed my book. I too am very grateful that we were lucky enough to find another life. About writing, we all have our own quirks, don’t we? Some people find it hard to start, some find it hard to finish. Some find the first draft really hard, others can’t stand to rewrite. I think it helps to know that writing is difficult for everyone, even people who have published many successful books! I’ll send you an email. Thanks again for your kind words! When I get the chance, I should write a blog post about the difficulties of writing…
I didn’t realize how blessed I was to get the opportunity to go to a book signing and hearing from you! You went to my school this year and I can’t believe I didn’t go especially when I loved your book. I am very thankful you are not living under the conditions you did when you came here to the States. God has very much taken care of you! I would love to be a writer as well one day. I read your 12 steps and I love your humor! I love creating stories but never finish them and get unmotivated to finish them :/ Any advice on motivation? Is there any way I could write to you? Do you have like a fan-address I could write to? If not, I understand, you seem very busy. Thanks for sharing your story with everyone, it has encouraged and wow’d (if thats a word) many!!
Sharon, how exciting that you read my book in Hebrew! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I can imagine that you had some interesting experiences with two immigrations in your childhood! Thanks for getting in touch – Jean
Hello, I just finished reading your book in Hebrew, it is amazing and extremely moving. Having immigrated twice as a child I really could identify with what you went through. Thank you for this special book ! Sharon
It was so great to be at Wright State! Thanks for getting in touch! Very glad you enjoyed my talk. I do love Holland as well. That is funny about needing to translate English into Dutch. That is not easy!
Thank you so much for visiting Wright State University on Monday! I really enjoyed your presentation and your enthusiasm. I envy you for living in Amsterdam. I was able to visit your city many years ago and still remember it well — Indonesian restaurants, Concertgebouw, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Franks Huis, just a fun city to explore.
I had a friend in high school who spent a year in the Netherlands as an exchange student. He had to take three language classes: Dutch, German, and English. He told me that English was the hardest. The reason was that in English class he had to translate English into Dutch!
Spider, please call me Jean. I am so honored and thrilled that you had ordered a copy of GIRL before I met your son-in-law on the airplane. You are a part of my childhood. Since we were so very poor, I didn’t have very many books although I read everything the library offered. Somehow I had gotten a tattered copy of STARDANCE and I loved that book. I read and reread it dozens of times. I remember wondering who you were (no Internet in those days) and why you were named Spider and how cool it was that you’d written it with your wife, who was also named Jeanne! It seemed so far from my possible futures then, to become a writer, but you and your books helped plant the seed that later became my own desire to write. And indeed I am a Buddhist as well, and I also worked as a professional ballroom dancer for three years in between my BA and MFA. I am going to be sending Terri good energy today as she undergoes her surgery. I’ll send you an email as well. Some things do seem meant to be. How coincidental that you had just bought a copy of my book right before I met Heron on the plane. — Jean
That is a great question and yes, the book is semi-autobiographical and partly based upon my own life. If you take a look at the About Jean page on my website, I wrote a piece about this very subject. I did immigrate to the US when I was five and also worked in a factory, and lived in a roach-infested, unheated apartment in Brooklyn. I’m glad you liked my book!
Dear Ms. Kwok: I was very interested to learn that you sat next to my son-in-law Heron da Silva on his recent flight to New York. And I was both startled and pleased that you told him you’ve read some of my own books. I’ve not yet read GIRL IN TRANSLATION, but I have heard so much about it, and you, that, by synchronicity, I had just ordered a copy from Amazon to be sent to Heron’s wife, my daughter Terri Luanna da Silva. I look forward to borrowing it from her once she’s finished it. (Which won’t be long: her upcoming surgery should leave her with lots of time to read.) I understand from Heron that you’re a Buddhist; my late wife Jeanne, a lifelong Soto Zen monk, was ordained a priest at her funeral in 2010 by Tenshin Reb Anderson Zenki, former Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. Please feel free to email me; it would be a pleasure to make your acquaintance. –Spider
I just finished “Girl in Translation” and really like it! The characters feel so real, I kept wondering if it really was fiction. Since many writers use true stories, and especially their own background in writing fictional stories, I wonder how much of this is from your younger years?
First of all, I’m sorry for the delay in approving your comment but I was abroad on vacation. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book and thank you for sharing your story! What a fascinating life you’ve had – attending SAB while growing up on welfare! My former roommate and dear friend was at Julliard as well and is a professional dancer in NYC now. My next book is actually set both in Chinatown and the dance world because I worked as a professional ballroom dancer in between my degrees at Harvard and Columbia. I think your memoir would be fascinating and I wish you the best of luck with it!
This story is the most heartbreaking and inspirationally wonderful story I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I felt every emotion, especially at the end. I found it so inspirational. I just want to let you know that I loved this story, even though I cried at the end, and you did a magnificent job on it. Thank you.
Hello Mrs. Kwok–want to make this short- just got back from bahamas with my 3 year old and husband.could NOT put your book down while there! I feel like you described much of my childhood:an immigrant growing up in queens on welfare while attending Scool of American Ballet in Julliard. Best friend’s family owned a private jet. never showed her my home or talked about it. Landed the lead role in a movie that won an Academy Award- title: Molly’s Pilgrim. about an immigrant and the hardships she faces–like myself. I would be thrilled if you allowed me to send you a copy.I was 10 when the movie was filmed. 12 when it won the oscar. Am just speechlessly in love with your book. Thank you so much for moving me like you did. now I want to write a memoir….Sophia
What a courageous man your father must have been. Thank you for sharing his story with me. I think the work you do is so important – you reach more lives than you know, I think. I’m glad you enjoyed my novel. Teachers like you made a real difference in my own life.
I want to thank you for writing “Girl in Translation.” I am not an immigrant myself, though my father was. He escaped Nazi Germany in 1937 at the age of 21 and one year later brought his parents over.
I am a teacher with a background in Elemtary Education, Special Education and Reading. For the last couple of years I’ve been teaching Developmental English to college students who need to improve their reading and writing in order to be able to take college level classes. Many of them are English Language Learners who are struggling with both the language and the culture. I enjoy getting to know them and hearning their stories. In one of my classes during the spring semester I had students from 6 different countries!
I have also started taking ESL classes to learn how to further help my students. My students put faces on the immigrant experience. Reading your book was like putting icing on the cake. It helped me take what I’ve learned and make it even more real.
Thank you. I’m looking forward to reading your next novel.
Glad I meet and read your blogs on tour, e.t.c. I am the author of Xlibris, UK published 131-page book, The Purpose and Power of Identity: Exploring the Realities and Possibilities of Our Being. I am inspired!
Mia, your story touches me so much. I can imagine that you felt unjustly accused, and it was unfair to you. I often hear from people about injustices that they experienced, that they were unable to rectify, and I know from personal experience how much those sting. I’m so glad that you did even better on that IQ test! Thank you for sharing and I hope you keep in touch. I post quite regularly on Facebook if you’re on it.
I am a 67 year old Irish-American but I identified with so much of Girl in Translation. The poverty, the mortifying changing at gym and enjoying school. In 9th grade, I was accused of cheating on an IQ test. I found this ridiculous. I did not cheat, why would I cheat on this. They made me retake the test in the principal’s office. After a few weeks, I asked about the retest. The nun said dismissingly – “You did better”. Not many people know this story, but I felt you would understand that I am not bragging. It just was very strange to me.
I went to nursing school at Penn, loved it and have spent the last part of my career teaching nursing. I also have 3 boys.
Thanks for your wonderful book.
Katleen, I really appreciate your taking the time to let me know! I’m afraid I won’t be writing a sequel but Kimberly and a mystery character will make a brief cameo in my next book, so you’ll find out more about her future. Rest assured that she and her loved ones do find love and happiness in their futures. Thank you for caring about her, I do as well!
Hi Mei Leng,
I wish you all the best with your book! My advice would be to find a good writers workshop so that you can start receiving feedback on your work. Many writers try to publish short stories first in literary magazines because it is extremely competitive to become a published writer. If you want to publish in the US, it is my opinion that you would need to find an agent first. There are many good books about how to become published, how to write a query letter to find an agent, etc. It is a long, hard road but very rewarding too in the end. Good luck!
I am a chinese malaysian, used to live around the globe including HK, but now settling down in Germany. Going through a lot in life, and i begin to write for the first time in my life as therapy for my soul. Now I intend to publish my book, I need your help and guidance, will you help me?
Hi Mieke, I’m so glad you got in touch! I thought they did a wonderful job putting together 10 days of filming into a half hour – what an accomplishment! Yes, it would have been nice if they could have shown more and I’m happy you were interested. Groetjes, Jean
Yes, I know how you feel. I’m in Holland now and it’s wonderful but always challenging to fit in too. There are many wonderful authors writing about the immigration experience. Everyone is different, though, so it’s hard to know if you’ll connect to the things each particular author writes about. Some excellent Chinese American authors are Maxine Hong Kingston, Lan Samantha Chang, Gish Jen, Janice Lee, and of course, Amy Tan. Thanks for getting in touch!
I am glad to hear that you identify with Kimberly and her story. I felt very much the same way when I was growing up. Your English is already excellent, and you’ve only been here since 2010! I’m sure you’re going to do very well here and I will you all the best.
I’m thrilled my book touched you and very glad you took the time to let me know! I’ve heard from other men who cried when they read my book but they always swear me to secrecy! They always say that they thought it was a girl’s book when they saw the cover, but they got unexpectedly caught up in the story. Thanks so much for getting in touch.
Hi! I greatly enjoyed reading your book and related to living in MD, living with roaches, and the whole transition to American. It’s been 29 yrs and I still don’t know if I will ever fit in…it is what it is. I’m 32 now. Anyways, I am mainly writing to see if you have any authors that you recommend that also share about immigrating to America. It makes me feel more connected. Please email me directly with the info at email@example.com. Thank you.
Hi! I am a Chinese, and I moved here in 2010, and I am still learning English. I am a 9th grader in Massachusetts now. My teacher gave me the book ” girl in translation”, and I love it! I understand the life Kimberly had and her feeling, because I have the same feeling. It is hard but I’ll always try my best! Can you please email me back, I really want to talk with you in email!
You wrote such a beautiful story. At the end of the book, you completely broke my heart and had tears streaming down my face. And this is coming from 28 year-old man who grew up in Philly and is a former boxer and hockey player.
Dear Nancy, So funny – it sounds like we have a great deal in common! What an interesting life you’ve had! I hope you do like my book and I’ll be on Dutch television in a bit more than a week, on Sunday May 6 at 19.50 on Nederland 2 – the show will be in Dutch and English, about my life and book. I do hope we get to meet in person someday! Warmly, Jean
Sally, so glad you got in touch and I hope your book club likes my book! I’m sorry I had to edit your comments so as to not spoil the ending for other readers but I’ve written you a separate email. Warmly, Jean
Just found you, the book and this website via a friend from Facebook who posted you are doing an event at the Renbrook School. I have goosebumps because even though I have not read the book yet, I know I will love it and relate. I am also a first generation New Yorker and flittered between three completely different worlds — my Galician (northern Spanish) parents and their strict and closed upbringing, my private school double world with Junior League invitations and working with my father in the worst areas of the Bronx with a host of Latin characters who became like extended family. I constantly think and actually want to write about how it all coexisted and I actually turned out pretty normal;)
Did I mention I am also now living in the Netherlands with my Dutchie husband and three kids? So funny! Thank you for inspiring me. Looking forward to reading the book and who knows, one day we may meet in our very small new home country.
Debra, so nice to hear from you! Although I’m not planning a sequel right now, Kimberly and a mystery character will make a brief cameo in my next novel. I’m so glad you care enough about my characters to wonder how they’ll get on. I feel the same way. Thanks so much for your kind words and all my best to you – Jean
While I’m an avid reader, it isn’t often that I find a book that I cannot put down. Your novel “Girl in Translation” is one of those books. I was so captivated that I finished it in one day. I know you don’t plan a sequel, but I wish you would reconsider. While the book is a perfect story in itself, I would love to continue reading about your character’s journeys and when/how their paths cross. Outstanding debut – I can’t wait for your next book!
Kathy, I’m thrilled you’ve read my book four times! That is really an honor. You are very kind. I think everyone does their best in their own way, and Asians are certainly not always successful! It’s funny because my next book has a Chinese heroine who isn’t good at school or much of anything else, except for taking care of her little sister. She winds up in the ballroom dance world and realizes that the only way for her to save her ailing little sister is to somehow win a major dance competition. Thanks for getting in touch! All my best, Jean
Well, I’ve read your book 4 times and I’ve loved it each time! I have always admired Chinese and other Asians who come to America and reach for the top. Many “native” Americans are jealous of outstanding immigrant success, but I applaud it heartily!! One of the reasons our country was created was to give people freedom to achieve. However, the “slavery” of the sweatshops is a dirty secret that I am sure still continues, underground. And, boy, could I identify with your description of your fellow students at your elementary and high schools! Congratulations on a wonderful book!
Jean, I can hardly wait until your book about ballroom dancing comes out!
Hi Jean, I just finished reading “Girl in Translation” – our book club is reviewing it tomorrow night. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!
I was reading your bio and had to email you to let you know that my husband and I had lived in Leiden on on Hoogvard and Barbarasteeg in 2008. We loved our stay there and visiting the Wednesday and Saturday markets just steps away from our apartment and the Hortus Botannicus! Such wonderful memories!
Susan, thanks so much for getting in touch. I LOVE this link you posted. What moving interviews – it’s the first time I’ve heard other people talk who also worked in sweatshops as children. Their memories coincide so much with mine. This hit home for me. : ) I reposted this link on my Facebook fan page. Thank you!
I just finished reading your book. I grew up in Chinatown, New York and stories like these always hit home. Congrats on your book. I thought you would be interested in this http://openthecity.org/?p=2802
I have read your novel and enjoyed it. It opened my eyes to the life of immigrants and how difficult life could be. My book club will be discussing it this next week and I’m excited to hear others’ reactions to your book.
It’s very kind of you to offer, Art, and I appreciate it very much but I’m afraid I won’t be writing a sequel to Girl in Translation. It was dreamed of as one book and it will remain that way. Thank you so much for thinking of me and getting in touch!
My mom got me your book (Girl in Translation) for Christmas because she said it “called to her” for her to buy me as a gift. It’s not my type of novel, but I began reading it anyways, intending on using it for a novel project. I quickly fell in love with your writing style and your main character, Kimberly. The book made so much sense to me, as I saw myself in Kimberly.
Thank you for writing it! I look forward to many more novels!
My name is Veronique Jurgens and I live in Wassenaar. I am member of an English language bookclub here in Wassenaar. We are a group of 9 Dutch ladies and we read and discuss a book once a month. All of us have lived as expats somewhere in this world, including a few who have lived in both the US and China.
It’s my turn to host a bookclub meeting on Thursday the 8th of March and I really want to read and discuss your book ‘Girl in Translation’. I have read many great reviews on it!
Read you book in two days. It is an inspiration for me as also a immigrant. Knowing that it is not impossible to succeed in a whole new world with a new language, brought me back to earth. I was going to a thought time, almost giving up my life in America because of language barrier… that was when I found your book at the library and totally identified myself.
Thank you for such a great book! I want to be a warrior just like Kim Chang
Eileen, I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. It is semi-autobiographical so while my life paralleled that of Kimberly’s, it wasn’t exactly the same. I’m trying to finish my new book as we speak and will certainly be posting the publication date on this website as soon as I have one! Would love to meet you in person someday!
I read most of the comments above.You have touched so many people with your very personal journey, including me.
What a brave little girl you were you certinally knew what you wanted. What an inspiration you are for the young kids growing up today. Reading your book tells me dreams really do come true. I know the Chinese are very respectfull people I don’t know how you put up with your Aunt Paula.
Your mom must be very proud of you. I thank you for sharing your journey with all us readers.
I wonder are you doing any book signings, I live on Long Island NY.When is your new book out?
Jean, I finished reading “Girl in Translation” last night, and I can’t get the story out of my head. I absolutely loved it! It was so inspiring, and I also liked learning more about the Chinese culture. Congratulations! I’m looking forward for your next one.
Jennifer, I’m thrilled you enjoyed my novel! There are so many wonderful southern writers. I get sent south quite often so if I’m ever in Georgia, I hope you’ll come by to say hi. So glad you cheered for Kimberly and her mom!
I am a deep south southern girl from Georgia that loves all the usual female southern writers, but your novel leaves me breathless! I read it in one setting! I can’t wait for your next work. I found myself cheering for Kimberly and her wise mother the whole way through. All I can say, is wow, ya’ll!
I just finished ‘Girl in Translation’ and I want to thank you so much for sharing this gift. My eyes have been opened in so many ways. Beautiful, empowering story. And I’m proud of your accomplishments! Hard work, dignity, dedication. I can’t wait for your next book
Nana, it’s so nice to hear from you and I appreciate your sharing your story. It can be very hard, harder than anyone else can imagine. I’m glad my book spoke to you and I’m wishing you the best of luck in making your dreams come true!
I just finished reading your book Girl in Translation, and I absolutely love it! I actually shed tears while I was reading because it reflects some of my life, since my parents are Chinese as well and I had a hard time adjusting to life in America.
I am still in high school, and I really admire your achievements, and how you overcame the harsh obstacles. You are now my new role model!
I love Girl in Translation so much but i was wondering if you were possibly going to do another, a sequel to Kimberly Chang’s life? I’m just a big romantic and truly loved your book, it really is prize worthy. Thank you for reading this
Jean I would like to congratulate you for this extraordinary novel and even more because you overcome many obstacles and barriers in yourlife as Kimberly!! I love your book because is easy to read for those not native english speakers like me!
Jamie, so glad you enjoyed the book! I’m afraid I won’t be writing a sequel but you will catch tiny glimpses of the characters in my future novels. Kimberly and a mystery character appear in my next one, so some of your questions will be resolved then. Thanks so much for getting in touch and I wish you a very Happy New Year!
I just finished the book…. I LOVED IT! Pleeeeeeease write a sequel to the book! I would love to read what happens… I look forward to your future novels as well.
Thank you for sharing your gift with us.
I absolutely loved Girl In Translation. I’m a twelve year old girl, and I definitely am a new fan of your writing. I think Girl In Translation should have a sequel, it would sell like crazy. Anywho, keep writing and good luck in you future.
So interesting that you grew up half Latino/half Asian in the US. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m happy you enjoyed the book and could relate to Kimberly. I felt quite alone when I was growing up and I sometimes wished for a book that acknowledged the world I lived in but I couldn’t find one. I wish you and yours all the best and I’m grateful you got in touch.
I absolutely loved this book. It really helps me appreciate the simple things in life that we take for granted everyday. It also serves as a motivation to take advantage of all the opportunity we are given in America. There were many times where I felt I could relate to Kimberly so much that I nearly cried. I know how it feels to be stuck in between different worlds; Growing up half Latino/half Asian in America, it’s hard to gain a sense of belonging to one culture, let alone all three. I admire the ambition that Kimberly possessed and the courage she had to make important decisions regarding her future. Definitely one of my new favorite books, and I will definitely recommend this to family/friends. Thank you so much for the inspiring piece of literature. Can’t wait for the next one!
Jean, this is an amazing book. Just finished the book on tape from the library. You’ve inspired me so much, I was up at 3:30 a.m. writing. My 11-year-old son said he’s going to excel in math because if Kimberly can, he can as well. I’m going to buy the book and read it over and over on my Nook.
So glad you enjoyed the book and thanks so much for getting in touch. I love Turkey and most especially the Turkish people, have been going to Kusadasi for the past few summers. The Turkish rights have been sold so the book will be translated into Turkish and published in Turkey in the next year.
Best wishes to you too,
Greetings from Turkey… I bought this book last summer when I was in NYC just depending on its name and cover, and I am so glad that it did not make me regret… It was so touching and it was also very nice to learn about Chinese culture… I am looking forward for your next novel… Best wishes…♥
Janis, thanks for getting in touch and I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! You’re right that there are parts of the story that haven’t been fully played out yet. I’m afraid I won’t be writing a sequel because I saw this book as a stand-alone and any sequel would be added-on, but we will get glimpses of the characters’ futures in my other novels. Kimberly and a mystery character will make a brief cameo appearance in my next novel, and other members of the family will also appear briefly in future books. Rest assured that everyone turns out OK, Kimberly finds her own complete happiness and yes, some secrets are impossible to keep forever.
My next book is set in the professional ballroom dance world and Chinatown, about a poor Chinatown girl who winds up in the professional ballroom dance world, then realizes the only way to earn the money to save her sick little sister (and herself) will be by winning a major dance competition. I’m very close to done on this novel and will be posting any news about publication, etc. here on my website but the fastest updates are on Facebook and Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Kwok/213583280524 http://twitter.com/#!/JeanKwok
Janet, Suzanne and Vicki, thanks so much for posting here! The audiobook is wonderful. I heard the three final professional readers being considered for it and chose Grace Wey, who’s gotten a great deal of praise for her rendition of the book.
Janet, thanks so much for recommending my book at your library. I really appreciate it. The next book is almost finished, about a poor Chinatown girl who becomes a professional ballroom dancer. She then realizes that winning a major dance competition will be the only way to save her ailing little sister, and herself.
Thank you for writing such a wonderful story! I listened to it on CD driving back and forth to work and I couldn’t wait for my commute each day to hear what would happen next. I look forward to your next masterpiece!
I just finished listening to the Girl in Translation audiobook. I’d been listening while commuting back and forth to work. It broke my heart to come to the end… I’d been enjoying having you with me. What a wonderful story teller you are!