Reading with... Eve J. Chung

Eve J. Chung is a Taiwanese American lawyer specializing in women's human rights. She has worked on a range of issues, including torture, sexual violence, contemporary forms of slavery, and discriminatory legislation. Her writing is inspired by social justice movements, and the continued struggle for equality and fundamental freedoms worldwide. Chung's debut novel is Daughters of Shandong (Berkley, May 7, 2024), about a mother and her daughters' harrowing escape to Taiwan as the Communist revolution sweeps through China.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

My book is about daughters who were abandoned during China's Communist revolution, and traveled over a thousand miles to confront those who left them behind.

On your nightstand now:

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino. I haven't opened it yet, but it came highly recommended from a friend, who said that it was Hayao Miyazaki's favorite childhood book, so I had to check it out.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I had many, but loved the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate and the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Your top five authors:

This list changes all the time! Isabel Allende is always on it because I love all her work (The Wind Knows My Name is her newest), but I would say recently, my favorites are Jamie Ford, who wrote my favorite love story (The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet), Shubnum Khan, who wrote the most recent book that I can't stop talking about (The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years), Ruta Sepetys, who taught me about historical events that I was completely unfamiliar with (Between Shades of Gray), and Jesse Q. Sutanto, whose Auntie books make me laugh out loud (Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers).

Book you've faked reading:

Oh, a lot of Shakespeare. I might have read one or two of his books that were assigned in high school, but generally looked up the summaries. Romeo and Juliet is probably my least favorite read of all time.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I didn't like it when I was a child, but loved it as an adult, possibly because it reminds me of the innocence of childhood.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Apology by Jimin Han. As a child, I loved persimmons, which are on the hardcover version of the book. It turned out to be a great book, about a 105-year-old Korean woman who must correct a mistake that she made to cover up a family secret.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't have to hide books from my parents--they were always very supportive of me reading, but English was also their second language so they were unlikely to police my reading when I was at a level that was more advanced than their own.

Book that changed your life:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I loved that she took a popular story and spun it from a woman's perspective, and then laced it with magic.

Favorite line from a book:

I have so many, but a recent line that I admired so much that I wrote it down was from Slow Noodles by Chantha Nguon, a memoir about the Cambodian civil war and ensuing genocide: "The murderers among us would have us believe that history is slippery and unknowable. Insisting otherwise is an act of defiance."

Five books you'll never part with:

I have moved so many times in my life and parted with many books, so I'll have to say there aren't really any books that I feel like I MUST keep. Clearing out my shelf gives me an excuse to buy new books, so I'm pretty ruthless about it. Everywhere I go, I also immediately find my local library and find a sense of permanence there. One book that I might hold onto for sentimental value is I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne and illustrated by Julia Kuo, which is about missing one's relatives who are far away, and grief after losing one's grandma--it is a very Taiwanese book, with illustrations that reminded me of my relatives.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan was so beautifully written, and unlike any other story--it is a blend of a ghost story, mystery, and romance. I had gotten an early ARC of it, which I read twice, just to savor the language again (and then I bought the book).

What book did you wish was around when you were a child?

I don't read much MG or YA now, but there are so many books that I wish had been around when I was younger. They were books that I probably needed to see myself in, and would have helped me deal with some of the issues that I faced in middle and high school. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao is a book that I would have loved to have as a teenager because it combines feminist rage with a fantastic story.

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