Vanessa Hua and Yalitza Ferreras discuss writing and Hua’s book A River of Stars.
In a powerful debut novel about motherhood, immigration and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman makes her way to California and stakes a claim to the American dream. Holed up with other moms-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory job and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she's carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, he's overjoyed because the doctors confirmed he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his son has every advantage, he has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil and to gain U.S. citizenship. As Scarlett awaits the baby's arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend. Then a new sonogram of Scarlett's baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. They flee to San Francisco's bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn't know is that her baby's father is not far behind her.
Vanessa Hua is an award-winning, best-selling author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her novel, A River of Stars, was named to the Washington Post and NPR’s Best Books of 2018 lists, and has been called a "marvel" by O, The Oprah Magazine, and "delightful" by The Economist. Her short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, a New York Times Editors' Choicer received an Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature and was a finalist for a California Book Award, and a New American Voices Award. Her forthcoming novel, Forbidden City, will be published in Spring 2022.
For two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora, filing stories from China, Burma, Panama, South Korea and Ecuador. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times before heading east to the Hartford Courant. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, Washington Post, The Atlantic and Newsweek, among other publications.
Yalitza Ferreras is the recipient of a 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a recent Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University. Her writing has appeared Best American Short Stories 2016, Kenyon Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Aster(ix), The Southern Review, Colorado Review and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan where she won the Thesis Prize and is the recipient of fellowships and awards from Djerassi, Yaddo, Ucross, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women, San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and Voices of Our Nation.