WRITING

The Most Beautiful Thing: New Book by Kao Kalia.

NOW available for purchase where books are sold! 

Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States. When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother—a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth—who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.

The Shared Room

A family gradually moves forward after the loss of a child—a story for readers of all ages

Tenderly, and with refreshing authenticity, beloved Minnesota writer Kao Kalia Yang tells the story of a Hmong American family living with loss and tremendous love. Bringing a message of comfort and hope to readers young and old, her direct and poignant words are accompanied by the evocative and expressive drawings of Hmong American artist Xee Reiter.

 

There is such power and pain and beauty in this brave little book. It is a thing to be treasured. Children who have experienced terrible grief in their young lives and are in need of seeing their sorrow reflected and honored have a beautiful friend in this story. The Shared Room is a tender thing—all heart and hope and quiet love. I love it dearly.

 Kelly Barnhill, author of Newbery Medal Winner The Girl Who Drank the Moon

What Gods is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Women of Color: New Book by Kao Kalia Yang and Shannon Gibney.

What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.

From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.

Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.

  • Star Tribune Top 10 Books of Fall 2020 List

Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.

A MAP INTO THE WORLD: New Book by Kao Kalia Yang

A Map Into the World (Carolrhoda Books, October 2019) is the first literarily published children’s book by a Hmong-American writer centered on a Hmong-American family. It is a the story of a young Hmong girl’s discovery of the changing seasons of a year and the different seasons of a life.
A watermelon growing big and round.
A yellow leaf fallen from a tree.
A handful of glittering snow.
The first worm of spring.

As the seasons change, so too does a young girl’s world. She moves into a new home with her family and encounters both birth and death. As this curious girl explores life inside her house and beyond, she collects bits of the world. But who are her treasures for?

The story is about a young Hmong girl’s search for beauty and connection in a busy world, lushly illustrated by Seo Kim.

  • Northstar Best Illustrator Award, 2019
  • Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, 2019
  • American Library Association Notable Books of the Year
  • Kirkus Notable Book of the Year
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice List
  • Minnesota Book Award Winner in Children’s Literature, 2020

The Song Poet

In the Hmong tradition, the song poet recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses; extemporizing or drawing on folk tales, he keeps the past alive, invokes the spirits and the homeland, and records courtships, births, weddings, and wishes.

Following her award-winning book The Latehomecomer, Kao Kalia Yang now retells the life of her father Bee Yang, the song poet, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by American’s Secret War. Bee lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until, one day, a song was born. Bee sings the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on the factory floor until, with the death of Bee’s mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee, with his poetry, has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnished their grim reality so that they might shine.

Written with the exquisite beauty for which Kao Kalia Yang is renowned, The Song Poet is a love story — of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, a people for their land, their traditions, and all that they have lost.

  • Star Tribune’s top 10 books of the decade, 2020
  • Seattle Times best author-narrated books, 2019
  • Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize Finalist, 2017
  • PEN USA Literary Award in Nonfiction Finalist, 2017
  • National Book Critics Circle in Biography Finalist, 2017
  • Midwest Book Award Finalist, 2017
  • The Chautauqua Prize Finalist, 2017
  • Minnesota Book Award Winner in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir, 2017
  • Minnesota Opera commissioned youth opera, spring 2021
  • Boston Globe, Star Tribune, & Pioneer Press best book of 2016

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008)

ONE HMONG FAMILY’S HARROWING ESCAPE FROM WAR IN LAOS TO THE UNCERTAINTY OF A NEW HOME AS REFUGEES IN MINNESOTA.

Yang’s award-winning memoir of her family’s harrowing escape from war in Laos is a love letter to her grandmother, a troubling portrait of the consequences of us intervention in Southeast Asia, and a glimpse into the little-seen exodus of the Hmong people, first to refugee camps in Thailand and then, for many, to new homes in Minnesota.

  • Literature to Life Title, 2020
  • National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Title, 2015
  • Jeannette Fair Memorial Award for Distinguished Writing, 2012
  • PEN USA Literary Award for Nonfiction Finalist, 2010
  • Minnesota Book Award Winner in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir, 2009
  • Minnesota Readers’ Choice Award Winner, 2009 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner, 2009
  • Asian American Literary Award Finalist, 2009
  • Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award Winner, 2008

Forthcoming Books

PRE-ORDER

Somewhere in the Unknown World

Somewhere in the Unknown World is out  on 11/10/2020. 

Yang Warriors

For questions regarding Kalia’s adult books, please contact:

Anna Stein, ICM Partners
65 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022
 
Phone: 212-556-5755

For questions regarding Kalia’s children’s books, please contact: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Inc.
824 Roosevelt Trail #290
Windham, ME 04062F

Phone: 928-525-2056
Email: erin@emliterary.com

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Questions? Get in touch.

Bee Yang

Hmong song poetry | kwv txhiaj hmoob

Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus: When the Days of Youth are Gone (Bee Yang, 2014)

This is an album of Hmong song poetry, kwv txhiaj hmoob, composed and sung by Bee Yang, Kao Kalia Yang’s father. The album notes and English translation of one of the songs are by Kao Kalia Yang.

Kwv txhiaj is, in the words of Ralph Ellison on the American Blues, “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-cosmic lyricism. As a form, the blues [and kwv txhiaj] is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”

NOTE:  The duration of the songs do not reflect the actual song length.  Please consider ordering the CD for the full songs.  Thank you.

*This CD is available for purchase for $15.  Click below to order:

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