For readers of Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Alexander, an intimate and haunting portrait of grief and the search for meaning from a singular new talent as told through the prism of three generations of her Chinese American family. Kat Chow has always been unusually fixated on death. She worried constantly about her parents dying—especially her mother. A vivacious and mischievous woman, Kat’s mother made a morbid joke that would haunt her for years to come: when she died, she’d like to be stuffed and displayed in Kat’s future apartment in order to always watch over her. After her mother dies unexpectedly from cancer, Kat, her sisters, and their father are plunged into a debilitating, lonely grief. With a distinct voice that is wry and heartfelt, Kat weaves together a story of the fallout of grief that follows her extended family as they emigrate from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and America. Seeing Ghosts asks what it means to reclaim and tell your family’s story: Is writing an exorcism or is it its own form of preservation? The result is an extraordinary new contribution to the literature of the American family, and a provocative and transformative meditation on who we become facing loss.
About the Author:
Kat Chow is a writer and a journalist. She was a reporter at NPR, where she was a founding member of the Code Switch team. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and on RadioLab, among others. She’s one of Pop Culture Happy Hour’s fourth chairs. She’s received a residency fellowship from the Millay Colony and was an inaugural recipient of the Yi Dae Up fellowship at the the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat.
Telling Complicated Stories with NPR’s Kat Chow
Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow Reviews:
“How do we know our mothers? This seemed to me to be what this powerful memoir brought into focus for me. From the narrow window we have of them from childhood, expanding outward as we grow older, and then after their death, when they cannot keep their secrets from us, including that also, the result is a prismatic vision of the mother in these pages, of Chow’s mother, but all our mothers. This is a book that asks us to consider if we allow our mothers to be human–and ourselves, too. A daring, loving, searing debut.”—Alexander Chee, bestselling author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“In Seeing Ghosts, Kat Chow tells a story that is at once intimate and generous in its welcome, sifting through the legacy of a formative and profound loss in order to better understand her late mother, her family, and herself. This gorgeous, thoughtful memoir has much to offer, including the hard-won truth that sometimes, moving forward into an uncertain future requires us to revisit, remember, and attempt to unravel the traumas of our past.”—Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
“Seeing Ghosts is a reminder that love, loss, and hope glide hand in hand – in this book about family and its bonds, Kat Chow transforms the question of what it means to lose and still have love for the mysteries of this world. Chow’s writing is by turns resonant, hilarious, and meticulously researched, making dreams and feelings that are otherwise invisible potent and wholly tangible. Chow’s scenes paint histories and emotions with the densest of feeling, as Seeing Ghosts guides us through how a life can be lived, who is left behind, and how we find ways to come together despite this. Kat Chow illustrates what it means when we’re bound to one another, excavating what we owe each other alongside what we owe ourselves. A delight and a miracle – the world is fuller, stranger, and brighter by this book’s presence.”—Bryan Washington, author of Memorial
Own this book? See if Mybookcart is buying Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow. Sell your book for cash.