Cathy Park Hong will discuss Minor Feelings. She will be joined in conversation by Sianne Ngai.
Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Program in Creative Writing
About the book: 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.
About the author: Cathy Park Hong is an award-winning poet and essayist whose book, Minor Feelings, is a searching work that ruthlessly reckons with the American racial consciousness. Hong weaves together personal stories, historical context, and cultural criticism to ultimately create an emotional and impactful exploration of Asian American personhood. Hong is the author of several books of poetry, and is the recipient of notable awards such as the Windham-Campbell Prize. In her moving talks, she offers a fresh and honest perspective on race and Asian American identity, discusses how poetry and writing can be a means for understanding ourselves and our world, and comments on the ways politics and culture are influenced by art—and vice versa.
About the interlocutor: Sianne Ngai is Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Ugly Feelings and Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, winner of the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize. Her work has been translated into multiple languages, and she has received fellowships from the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin and the American Council of Learned Societies.