I am very honored at this time to present a guest post by Shannon Young on her fascinating new anthology, devoted to nonfiction stories of women living as expats in Asia. Each author speaks strongly and honestly.
Raw Dragonfruit: Expatriate Women Writers in Asia
By Shannon Young
The expatriate literary tradition has a long, proud history. From the Fitzgeralds in Paris to Burroughs in Tangier and Buck in China, expat life inspires bursts of creativity. The removal of everything familiar forces you to pay close attention to the world around you.
But in modern East Asia, men often dominate the expat conversation. Women are sidelined and labeled. Assumptions are made about trailing spouses and haughty attitudes. But there are nuances to the experiences of women in Asia, no matter where they come from or why they left their home countries.
The expat women in Asia anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? attempts to explore those nuances. I took on the project with Signal 8 Press just over two years into my own expatriate life in Hong Kong. I was excited about the prospect of a collection of creative non-fiction and memoir by women who were living the life I had just begun.
I posted a call for submissions on my blog and sent it out to a dozen sites. Writing friends forwarded it to their contacts across the region. Soon, the submissions poured in.
Amidst traditional travel tales, I found stories of love and heartbreak, moments of uncertainty and discoveries of resolve. The stories tugged at me, staying long after I’d shut down my laptop. It was clear that the call for submissions had struck a nerve. We ended up with over 80 stories by female writers from all walks of life.
In many cases, the women who submitted their stories talked about how it was only when they were taken away from their old lives that they saw themselves for who they really were.
The thing that stuck with me as I narrowed down the shortlist was the vulnerability each writer revealed. These women were dealing with challenges to every comfort zone they had, and in some cases it left them raw.
India Harris wrote of discovering her husband’s affairs in the Philippines. Christine Tan wrote of losing a pregnancy in China. Coco Richter wrote of losing her sense of purpose as a ‘trailing spouse’ in Hong Kong after a successful legal career.
On the other hand, Neha Mehta wrote of finally feeling safe to take the bus after leaving India for Thailand. Kathryn Hummel traced the contours of change throughout her life in Japan. Jocelyn Eikenburg and Dorcas Cheng-Tozun wrote about new levels of understanding they realized through their relationships with the people around them.
Each work gave a new voice, a new face to the experiences of expat women in Asia. It is my hope that this collection will encourage the women living this life—and that it will challenge assumptions about what it means to be a modern woman abroad.
The list of contents below illustrates the multi-cultural depth of this collection.
Waiting for Inspiration - Coco Richter (Hong Kong)
Charting Koenji - Kathryn Hummel (Japan)
Shannon Young is the editor of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia. She lives in Hong Kong.
End of Guest Post
Shannon Young is an American writer currently living in Hong Kong. She is the editor of an anthology of creative non-fiction entitled How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?: True Stories of Expat Women in Asia (Signal 8 Press, June 2014). She is the author of e-books including The Art of Escalator Jumpingand Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years (Kindle Single). Her work has been published in Imprint, Mary: A Journal of New Writing,and on Modern Love Long Distance.
Shannon organizes a weekly writers’ group and is the events coordinator and occasional MC for the Hong Kong Women in Publishing Society. She writes a blog called A Kindle in Hong Kong. Originally from Arizona, she likes to read, travel, sit around in coffee shops, and spy on other people’s books on the train. Her travel memoir, Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman’s Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong, will be published by Blacksmith Books in the fall of 2014.
My great thanks to Shannon for stopping by to tell us about this fascinating anthology. I know of no other collection with such an interesting focus.
Shannon maintains a very interesting culturally diverse blog at http://akindleinhongkong.blogspot.com/
I have been happily following it for a long time.
Shannon often does a very interesting feature in which she talks about the books she has seen being read by Hong Kong commuters on urban trains.
I urge anyone interesting in new ground breaking books with a focus on South Asia to check out the web page of Signal 8 Press
This sounds like a wonderful, diverse collection.
I do so like the mix of so many different races and different countries.
I read this anthology in 48 hours and loved every page of it! I loved reading here how Shannon picked the essays and why it's such an important anthology.
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