P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2003
March 2, 2004
Literary Cabaret with Hagedorn and Choi at MASS MoCA April 2
(North Adams, Mass.) -- MASS MoCA will present a literary cabaret on Friday, April 2, at 8 P.M. in their Club B-10 with two provocative Asian-American novelists, Jessica Hagedorn and Susan Choi. Hagedorn will read from her sensual and razor-sharp Dream Jungle which explores the clash of Filipino and American culture through the eyes of a 12-year-old prostitute, a corrupt politician, and an egotistical actor. Choi will read from her new novel, American Woman in which she fictionalizes the Patty Hearst kidnapping, basing her protagonist on the real-life Wendy Yoshimura, a young Japanese-American woman who spent the “lost year” with Hearst and her kidnappers. The readings will be followed by a discussion with the authors moderated by Cassandra Cleghorn.
“Susan Choi writes gracefully, insightfully, and with striking maturity,” wrote Time magazine. Maureen Howard, author of Big as Life proclaimed, “Jessica Hagedorn weaves many stories of the quest for identity, cultural and personal.”
Choi’s American Woman, follows 25-year-old Jenny Shimada (loosely based on real-life Wendy Yoshimura) who is on the lam for participating in an anti-war bombing. Jenny is living under the authorities' radar in New York's Hudson Valley when her efforts to lay low are complicated by a visit from a former lover and comrade-in-arms, who enlists her to help three surviving members of a radical cadre. Her charges are: Juan, who has become the leader now that the rest of the cell has been incinerated by their own stockpile of firepower during a standoff with police; his lover, the brazen and dogmatic Yvonne; and Pauline, the daughter of a California newspaper magnate, who was kidnapped by the revolutionaries and has now embraced their anarchical cause. Though Pauline spouts revolutionary platitudes, she seems to cling to Juan and Yvonne with an unhealthy, almost child-like dependency.
Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle begins with seemingly unrelated events – Vincent Moody abandoning his wife and child in California to star in a Vietnam-era blockbuster film shot on location; Filipino politician, Zamora Lopez de Legazpi, discovering a Stone Age “lost tribe” in a remote region; and 10-year-old Rizalina surviving a shipwreck in which her brutal father is killed. Lina’s mother is Zamora’s cook and Lina lives happily in his grandiose palace until he takes an unseemly interest in her. She runs away only to become a prostitute in order to survive until Moody sees her, falls for her, and makes Lina a part of the movie’s entourage.
Acclaimed novelist, playwright, poet, and screenwriter, Jessica Hagedorn was born and raised in the Philippines. She moved to the U.S. in her teens and now lives in New York City. Her novels also include The Gangster of Love and Dogeaters, the later of which garnered a National Book Award nomination.
Susan Choi was born in Indiana, grew up in Texas, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Foreign Student, her first novel, won the Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award at Barns and Noble.
Tickets to Jessica Hagedorn and Susan Choi are $12 in advance or $15 the day of the show (members save 10%) and are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays) or over the phone by calling 413.662.2111 or online at www.massmoca.org. Doors open at 7 for food and drink before the reading.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release