Jean Kwok

Jean Kwok's debut novel, Girl in Translation (Riverhead Books), chronicles the life of 11-year-old Kimberly Chang as she negotiates her new life in New York City, where she and her mother have recently immigrated. Kimberly must leave behind much of her culture and language in Hong Kong and adapt to her new life, where English words are pronounced nothing like what she learned back in her home country. She struggles to keep up at her new school, to help her mom at the factory (or, rather, sweat shop) where she works, and to fend off cockroaches and the cold in her condemned apartment building. We follow our heroine through the social and academic gauntlets of junior high and high school as she tries to keep the truth about her impoverished home life a secret from her classmates. Kwok's novel comments on the experience of the immigrant in the United States through the intimate details of one girl's life. (Photo by Sigrid Estrada)
Tue., May 11, 7 p.m., 2010

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