Books Talks

Chippewa Valley Book Festival Preview: Q&A With Author, Teacher, and Public Speaker Kao Kalia Yang

Yang’s newest book explores the powerful stories refugees carry in search for peace and a home for those they love

Sara Meeks |

Kao Kalia Yang is the award-winning author of three memoirs: The Latehomecomer, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. She’s the contributor and co-editor of the groundbreaking collection, What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color. She is also the author of the children’s books: A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, and Yang Warriors. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN America Literary Awards, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Booksellers Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. She will be part of the upcoming Chippewa Valley Book Festival from Oct. 24-29, speaking on her latest book, Somewhere in the Unknown World – a collective refugee memoir that speaks to the powerful stories that refugees carry in their search for peace and their quest to build homes for those they love. 

What is something you’re excited to share about your work?

Somewhere in the Unknown World is a story for our current moment; it addresses the lives of many of the refugees here and those on their way. It is helpful for all Americans to understand the political forces and personal stories that bring people here.  

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Kao Kalia Yang, the life you will live is nothing quite like what you imagined. In many ways, it is more beautiful. Be prepared to be grateful and thrilled, to learn of a world that will learn of you.  

What do you hope readers learn from your books?

Each book I write is a love letter to someone somewhere. My hope is that readers of my books be filled with a greater understanding and deeper sense of love after reading my work.  

What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

The Little Prince.

What are you reading right now?

Braiding Sweetgrass.

Do you have a favorite quote about reading and/or writing?

I don't have a particular favorite quote on reading and/or writing but I do love one on story: “A story is a stop sign on the road of life. Its purpose to make you pause, look both sides, and check the trajectory of the horizon before you continue.” –Uncle Eng Yang

Learn more about Kao Kalia Yang at

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