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Books

BOOKS

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Heaven and earth do not pick and choose.

They see everything as straw dogs.

Dao De Jing

 

Winner of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA)

Best Book Award
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals of Excellence
The Washington Post, A Best Fiction Book of the Year
Library Journal, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

An Indie Next Selection

"Set against the backdrop of the expanding American West, Chun’s haunting saga honors the resilience among 19th-century Chinese immigrants despite the horrors they faced." —Becky Meloan, The Washington Post

"Infuses hope and resilience." —WBUR

"Told with an unflinching attention to detail, Ye’s narrative captures the brutal racism and violence inflicted upon these newcomers both in the crowded alleys of San Francisco and amid the vast beauty of the Sierra Nevada. Yet Ye’s characters never surrender their aspirations for a better life." —Blaise Zerga, 
Alta

"A sweeping debut novel . . . Straw Dogs of the Universe is an enthralling historical fiction about anti-Chinese violence, the egregious exploitation of 19th century workers and the persistence of the human spirit." —Sarah Sitefvater, PureWow

"Straw Dogs Of The Universe is a multigenerational epic packed with action and adversity—but its heroes are mere humans, who must rely on luck and grit for a chance to surmount the terror of being a Chinese migrant in 19th century California. Devalued by railroad bosses, enslaved by brothel owners, and hunted down in the streets, every day is a challenge and every triumph is fleeting. In her debut English-language novel, Ye Chun chronicles the lives and dreams of her protagonists with utmost honesty and respect." —Katherin Jin, Chicago Review of Books

"Ambitious . . . Chun personalizes both the fear and despair that pervaded the lives of so many of these immigrants, and the fortitude, hope and love that they cultivated anyway."—Alden Mudge, BookPage

 

"Here her exquisite chapters could easily stand alone but, interlinked, they create an intricate mosaic gloriously revealing intertwined lives . . . Ye offers another haunting, edifying, and illuminating literary feast.” —Booklist (starred review)

"Heartbreaking . . . Ye’s clear-eyed depictions of the characters’ internal struggles elevates what could be a litany of tragedies into a heroic story of survival. Readers will be moved." —Publishers Weekly

“Hauntingly beautiful and exquisitely written, Straw Dogs of the Universe shines much-needed light on a historical period that we must not forget if we want to do better as a human race. This book is a treasure, to be read and re-read, as the best poems should be.” —Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child

"A visceral and poetic work of art—Ye Chun’s grasp of our shared history, of her unforgettable characters, and of the vast sweep of this narrative can only be marveled at: who else could tell us the story of Chinese settlement in California as if it were an adventure tale filtered through the lens of Thomas Hardy? That the writing here is so insightful, so clear and vibrant and heartbreaking, is a testament to the overwhelming talent of one of our finest authors." —Brian Castleberry, author of Nine Shiny Objects

 

"Ye Chun writes with depth and precision about the power of the human spirit—its resilience, tenderness, darkness, and yearning—even under the harshest of circumstances. Straw Dogs of the Universe is a luminous, unforgettable story about the terror and beauty of life for Chinese immigrants in the early American West. It will leave you aching by its end." —Alexandra Chang, author of Days of Distraction and Tomb Sweeping

"Impressive in scope, with unflinching historical detail and effortless storytelling, Ye Chun’s Straw Dogs of the Universe is a magnificent addition to the growing tradition of historical fiction that rectifies the gaps and silences around the contributions of the Chinese workforce to the 19th century American West. An unforgettable story of people who, despite horrific violence, betrayal, and loss, grow into the truest and strongest versions of themselves." —Melissa Fu, author of Peach Blossom Spring

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Longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence
Literary Hub, A Best Book of the Year
Electric Literature, A Best Book of the Year

An Indie Next Selection 

“There's not a story in Hao that's anything less than gorgeous. Ye, who's also a literary translator, has an uncanny ability to explore the vocabularies that we build around ourselves, the ways that we communicate, and what happens when those break down. It's a beautiful collection that looks at people who have nothing but their words — until they don't.” —NPR

 

Slow, somber and often elegant, Hao thematically foregrounds language. Rather than reproducing the trite ethos of language as power, Ye shows how words operate as weapons, comforts, memories and insufficient — if sometimes beautiful — representations of intent. The New York Times Book Review

Each of Ye’s dozen stories astounds. Booklist (starred review)

These battles are fought with pens, stick figures, tender drawings on a child’s back; silent screams are in the background.” Kirkus (starred review)

“Lapidary, understated, unflinching and intimate, the pieces in Ye Chun’s debut short story collection Hao offer at the same time a prismatic, expansive, historical vision of the complex, often dire circumstances of a host of Chinese female characters across time and place.” —On the Seawall

These stories are immaculate, beautiful, tattered — like their characters. Vulture

“Ye Chun’s gorgeous collection turns our attention to Chinese women. They are wives and mothers. They are immigrants and graduate students. They are bridges between continents...More than anything, Hao is a love letter to language.” —Lit Hub

With its gorgeous, insight-laden prose, the collection leaps across oceans and generations, cities and historical epochs. While leaping across them, though, it threads them together.” —The Rupture

“These beautiful, profound stories are love songs to a daughter, tirades against an unjust world, and, above all, radiant meditations on Chinese history and language. Each story builds on the last with brilliance, power, and page-turning racing energy. Surely this book will be among the best story collections of the year.” —DEB OLIN UNFERTH, author of Barn 8

“That language must be used precisely to have power feels both obvious and too often overlooked, but in Ye Chun's Hao, we're shown not only the continually precise and gorgeous renderings of words and phrases, but the power this can have to conjure specific ways of being, to argue against so many silent violences, and to feel like its own type of taking care. Each of these stories is an individual world brought to life fully by the particularity of its language, by Ye’s extraordinarily far-reaching and deeply felt imagination, combined with her consistently stunning acuity and control.” —LYNN STEGER STRONG, author of Want

 

“Ye Chun captures the complexities of human emotion with a fine chisel and poet's eye, moving deftly between themes of motherhood, loss, and migration. Hao is a richly imagined, satisfying collection, one that invites you to stay, to linger and be moved.” —TE-PING CHEN, author of Land of Big Numbers

“Through everything the women in these stories confront—oppressive regimes, immigrant struggles, infertility, the pain of motherhood—the beauty of Ye Chun’s writing lifts them up. From loneliness and devastation, this exquisite collection fashions a tribute to human resilience and the solace of language.” —POLLY ROSENWAIKE, author of Look How Happy I’m Making You

“Hao is an unsettling, hypnotic collection spanning centuries, in which language and children act simultaneously as tethers and casting lines, the reasons and the tools for moving forward after trauma. You’ll come away from this beautiful book changed.” —JULIA FINE, author of The Upstairs House

“Few books capture the raw terror and exultation of motherhood, and of the implications of language itself, as gorgeously as this one. To say that Hao moved me doesn't feel like enough: I felt changed on the other side of these magnificent stories. Hao is pure triumph.” —CLARE BEAMS, author of The Illness Lesson

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Lantern Puzzle

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《海上的桃树》
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Travel Over Water

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Ripened Wheat:
Selected Poems of Hai Zi
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 《眼睛后面》
 李立扬诗歌
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Long River:
Poems by Yang Jian
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《梦魇之书》
高威·金奈尔诗歌

BIO

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Photo by Mira Feifei Ye-Flanagan

Ye Chun / 叶春 (Surname: Ye) is a bilingual Chinese American writer and literary translator. She was born in Luoyang, China and came to the U.S. in 1999. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Virginia and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri. She is the author of Straw Dogs of the Universe (a novel), Hao (stories),  a novel in Chinese,《海上的桃树》(Peach Tree in the Sea), and two books of poetry, Travel Over Water and Lantern Puzzle.

She has also published four volumes of translations, including Ripened Wheat: Selected Poems of Hai Zi and Long River: Poems by Yang Jian, as well as translations of Li-Young Lee's Behind My Eyes and Undressing,《眼睛后面: 李立扬诗歌》, and Galway Kinnell's The Book of Nightmares,《梦魇之书》.

A recipient of an NEA Fellowship and three Pushcart Prizes, she is an associate professor at Providence College and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

She is represented by Caroline Eisenmann at Frances Goldin Literary Agency. 

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