March 9, 2022
Exhibition Programming, Kimball Art Center’s Book Club
Discussion leader: Paisley Rekdal
- A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian-American consciousness and the struggle to be human
- “Brilliant… To read this book is to become more human.” (Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen)
- Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
- Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times The Washington Post NPR Time New Statesman BuzzFeed Esquire The New York Public Library Book Riot
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative – and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings”. As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality – when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant – and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.
With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian-American psyche – and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.
Praise for Minor Feelings
“Hong begins her new book of essays with a bang…. The essays wander a variegated terrain of memoir, criticism and polemic, oscillating between smooth proclamations of certainty and twitches of self-doubt…. Minor Feelings is studded with moments [of] candor and dark humor shot through with glittering self-awareness.” (The New York Times)
“Hong uses her own experiences as a jumping off point to examine race and emotion in the United States.” (Newsweek, 40 Must-Read Fiction and Nonfiction Books to Savor this Spring)
“Powerful…[Hong] brings together memoiristic personal essay and reflection, historical accounts and modern reporting, and other works of art and writing, in order to amplify a multitude of voices and capture Asian America as a collection of contradictions. She does so with sharp wit and radical transparency.” (Salon)
About Paisley Rekdal
Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee; the hybrid photo-text memoir, Intimate; and five books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos; Six Girls Without Pants; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope; Animal Eye, a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize; and Imaginary Vessels, finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her newest work of nonfiction is a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. A new collection of poems, Nightingale, which re-writes many of the myths in Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, was published spring 2019. Appropriate: A Provocation, which examines cultural appropriation, was released by W.W. Norton in Feb. 2021. She is the guest editor for Best American Poetry 2020.
Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes (2009, 2013), Narrative’s Poetry Prize, the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Tin House, the Best American Poetry series (2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019), and on National Public Radio, among others.
She is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of West: A Translation, as well as the community web projects Mapping Literary Utah and Mapping Salt Lake City. In May 2017, she was named Utah’s Poet Laureate and received a 2019 Academy of American Poets’ Poets Laureate Fellowship.