Podcast with Albert Samaha, author of “Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes”

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One of the first members of Albert Samaha’s family introduced in his memoir Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes is his uncle Spanky: a baggage handler in San Francisco’s airport. Spanky emigrated to the United States from his home country, the Philippines, where he lived a very different life as a rockstar: one of the founding members of VST & Co, one of the country’s most famous bands.

 

 

Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes, Albert Samaha (‎ Riverhead, October 2021)
Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes, Albert Samaha (‎ Riverhead, October 2021)

That’s merely one of the family members Albert Samaha profiles in Concepcion which traces the lives of generations of Filipinos, and Filipino-Americans, trying to find a better life for themselves and navigating the ups-and-downs of American society and politics.

Albert Samaha is an investigative journalist and inequality editor at BuzzFeed News whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Village Voice, San Francisco Weekly, and the Riverfront Times, among other outlets. A Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient, he is also the author of Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City (PublicAffairs, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award and winner of the New York Society Library’s 2019 Hornblower Award.

We’re also joined by Helen Li. Helen is a freelance journalist originally based in Asia, and has since relocated to the United States. She joined us previously for our interview with Amish Mulmi on All Roads Lead North.

The three of us talk about immigration, US-Philippine relations, class and how that all relates to the immigrant experience: both in general, and regarding the many members of Albert’s family.


Nicholas Gordon has an MPhil from Oxford in International Relations and a BA from Harvard. He is a writer, editor and occasional radio host based in Hong Kong.