There were so many Thai Americans at last night's big Customs & Departures event at USC that I do believe it caused a rift in the space-time continuum. (But, as event assistant Quincy would point out, "just a THAI-ny one." He's not one to exaggerate The Importance of Things as much as I do, you see—but he sure is handy with a bad pun!)
It was actually a very diverse (and enthusiastic) crowd, but I couldn't help but take note of all the Thais who represented—and who were so appreciative that we featured writers exist.
You mean, I don't have to be talented and smart? All I have to do is exist? I'll take it!
But you know what? Novelist/TV writer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, memoirist Ira Sukrungruang, and poet Pimone Triplett are talented—and smart and sweet and sincere to boot. Check out that picture—that's what Thai-American writers look like. And if you say all our full names five times fast, you're eyes will start to bleed curry.
We read from our work; we had a freewheeling discussion about identity, writing, and our crazy-ass names; we signed our books; we mingled with the crowd; and we ate Thai food because, you know, if they catered, say, bangers and mash, I would've vomited on it. (A shout out to PEN Center USA and MPW, event hosts, for a perfect evening.)
(Video documentation of the event—for your viewing pleasure and cultural stimulation—will be available soon and presented to you in bite-sized chunks over the next few weeks. I'll also tell you about the writers' books, which you have to buy and cherish like a newborn puppies. If you don't, yeah, you're a fascist. Or imperialist. Whichever personally sounds worse for you.)
After we closed up shop, Cherry and I (who are L.A. residents) drove Pimone and Ira (who are visiting from Washington and Florida, respectively) to their hotel, the Westin Bonaventure, which looks like a Vegas mall inside. (That's not a complaint by the way; that's a statement of reverence.) We had a round of drinks (a diet cherry Roy Rogers for me) and chatted about secret Thai-American writer things that I will never share. Ah, the benefits of membership.