A reinvestigation of chemical biological weapons dropped on the Hmong people in the fallout of the US war in Vietnam.
“Mai Der Vang’s Yellow Rain spoke to a piece of my heart that has yearned for such a work as this to come forth in response to the layered tragedies of our shared history, to establish a record in which our voices cannot be erased, our bodies forgotten, and our names forsaken. . . . An indictment of the highest and most poetic order.” — Kao Kalia Yang
“Mai Der Vang intensifies and innovates documentary poetics in Yellow Rain. It confronts empire’s crimes against humanity and the interlocking power of science and the military-industrial complex. Yellow Rain is a magnificent textual revolt against historical amnesia.”— Don Mee Choi
“Writing defiantly against the erasure and dismissal of Hmong experience, Mai Der Vang offers an intense condensation of Hmong knowledge and truth in Yellow Rain. This is an impressive accomplishment that blends poetry, archive, history, and polemic in a bravura effort to assert the being and voice of Hmong people.” — Viet Thanh Nguyen
In this staggering work of documentary, poetry, and collage, Mai Der Vang reopens a wrongdoing that deserves a new reckoning. As the United States abandoned them at the end of its war in Vietnam, many Hmong refugees recounted stories of a mysterious substance that fell from planes during their escape from Laos starting in the mid-1970s. This substance, known as “yellow rain,” caused severe illnesses and thousands of deaths. These reports prompted an investigation into allegations that a chemical biological weapon had been used against the Hmong in breach of international treaties. A Cold War scandal erupted, wrapped in partisan debate around chemical arms development versus control. And then, to the world’s astonishment, American scientists argued that yellow rain was the feces of honeybees defecating en masse—still held as the widely accepted explanation. The truth of what happened to the Hmong, to those who experienced and suffered yellow rain, has been ignored and discredited.
Integrating archival research and declassified documents, Yellow Rain calls out the erasure of a history, the silencing of a people who at the time lacked the capacity and resources to defend and represent themselves. In poems that sing and lament, that contend and question, Vang restores a vital narrative in danger of being lost, and brilliantly explores what it means to have access to the truth and how marginalized groups are often forbidden that access.
MAI DER VANG is an editorial member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. Her poetry has appeared in the New Republic, Poetry, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and her essays have been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Washington Post. Her debut collection, Afterland, received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. She lives in California.
MONICA SOK's debut poetry collection A Nail in the Evening Hangs On uses poetry to reshape a family's memory about the Khmer Rouge regime — memory that is both real and imagined — according to a child of refugees. Driven by myth-making and fables, the book seeks to reclaim the Cambodian narrative with tenderness and an imagination that moves towards wholeness and possibility.
Co-sponsors Eastwind Books Multicultural Services, Asian Pacific American Student Development. Supported in part by a Civic Arts Grant from the City of Berkeley
$2 OACC donation suggested per ticket
Looking back at APA History in 1940's , the Exclusion Laws, racism and the KKK has graphically come alive with comic artists and writers Gene Luen Yang and Pornsak Pichetshote's new graphic novels. Pichetshote's The Good Asian and Yang's Shadow Hero and Superman Smashes the Klan have been treasures to comic lovers searching for adventure, heroism, and POW! while learning about Asian American history.
Writer PORNSAK PICHETSHOTE's series The Good Asian follows fictional Edison Harkï, a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective on the trail of a killer in 1936 Chinatown. THE GOOD ASIAN is Chinatown noir starring the first generation of Americans to come of age under the Exclusion Law and immigration ban against the Chinese, as they're besieged by rampant murders, abusive police, and racial segregation.
PICHETSHOTE's initial inspiration for The Good Asian series came from the 1920’s Detective Charlie Chan series, which was originally inspired by Chang Apana, a real-life Chinese Hawaiian policeman in 1957. Pichetshote’s story ultimately is an introduction to Asian American history and United States’ structural racism keeping Asian Americans as perpetual and unequal outsiders.
Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial Clan of the Fiery Cross, New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang ( American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) and artist Gurihiru ( Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Unstoppable Wasp) bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong. Yes Superman is an immigrant!
The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross!
Yang also revived the Green Turtle, the first Asian American Super Hero. In the comics boom of the 1940s, a legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics characters. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity: the Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero. The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but Gene Luen Yang has revived this character in Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the Green Turtle.
This is Eastwind Books of Berkeley's first live authors' appearance and book signing. We thank Oakland Asian Cultural Center (oacc.com) for co-sponsoring and hosting the safe limited 150 seating in the OACC Auuditorium. For everyone's safety mask and covid vaccines are required please.
There will be a $2 donation fee per ticket to help OACC cover the room cost. A free live online screening will be simultaneously broadcast for all !!
Please note the live author talk may be subject to changes due to covid-19 regulations. The show will then be broadcasted online with notices sent to ticket holders before Oct. 9th.
Can't make it to the in-person event? No problem! The Oakland Asian Cultural Center has got you covered. Join us for the Youtube virtual screening of this event you definitely do not want to miss! There will also be a book signing at 4:00 pm at the OACC that is free and open to the public! Alternatively, you may purchase the book from our website and include in the order description a request for an autographed copy with a personalized memo!
( Sign up for the in-person event here: aapicomics.eventbrite.com)
( Sign up for the in-person event here: aapicomics.eventbrite.com)