Award-winning Poet Wendy Chen Lauches Debut Novel! In Conversation with Acclaimed Novelist Thao Thai!

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - 7:00pm
Gramercy Books
2424 East Main Street
Bexley, OH 43209

Join award-winning poet, translator, and editor Wendy Chen who launches her captivating and intimate debut novel, Their Divine Fires. Chen will be in conversation with acclaimed novelist Thao Thai.

Registration is on Eventbrite. The purchase of Their Divine Fires waives the $5 registration fee.

OHIOANA LIBRARY, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY’S DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, and OSU’S CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM are Gramercy’s Community Partners for this program.

Interwoven with folktale and myth, Wendy Chen’s Their Divine Fires tells the story of the love affairs of three generations of Chinese women across one hundred years of revolutions both political and personal.  

In 1917, at the dawn of the Chinese Revolution, Yunhong grows up in the southern China countryside and falls deeply in love with the son of a wealthy landlord despite her brother's objections. On the night of her wedding, her brother destroys the marriage before it has even lasted a day and irrevocably changes the shape of Yunhong's family to come; her daughter Yuexin will never know her father. Haunted by a history that she will never fully understand, Yuexin passes those memories onto her daughters Hongxing and Yonghong, who come of age in the years following Mao’s death, battling the push and pull of political forces as they forge their own paths. Each generation guards its secrets, leaving Emily, great granddaughter of Yunhong and living in contemporary America, to piece together what actually happened between her mother, her sister, and the weight of their shared ancestry.   

Drawing on the lives of her great-grandmother and her great-uncles—both of whom fought on the side of the Communists—as well as her mother’s experiences during the Cultural Revolution, Wendy Chen infuses Their Divine Fires with a passion that will transport the reader back to powerful moments in history while bringing us close to the women who persisted despite the forces all around them. Both brilliant and haunting, it's a story about what our ancestors will, and won't, tell us. 

Wendy Chen is the author of the award-winning poetry collection Unearthings. Her short stories, creative nonfiction, translations, and reviews have appeared widely including Freeman’s, A Public Space, North American Review, and American Poets. Her work has been translated into multiple languages and has been adapted into musical compositions. Chen is also the prose editor of Tupelo Press, editor of Figure 1 and associate editor-in-chief of Tupelo Quarterly. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Most Promising Young Poet Prize. Chen earned her MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University and her PhD in English from the University of Denver. She teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  

Thao Thai is the author of Banyan Moon, the July 2023 Read with Jenna title, Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and Book of the Month selection. Banyan Moon was also selected by booksellers as an IndieNext pick and longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, WIRED, Elle, Lit Hub, Electric Lit, Catapult, The Sunday Long Read, Cup of Jo, and other publications. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and daughter.