Stay True, the new memoir from Hua Hsu, is a coming-of-age story about the writer’s time in the University of California in Berkeley, where he tries to become a writer–and becomes a bit of a music snob. He builds a close friendship with another Asian-American student, Ken, very different from Hua, about which he writes in the book:
All the previous times I had met poised, content people like Ken, they were white. It’s one of those obscure parts of an already obscure identity that Japanese American kids can seem like aliens to other Asians, untroubled, largely oblivious to feeling like outsiders.
But Ken is killed in a robbery gone wrong, forcing Hua to grapple with the death of his friend.
In this interview, Hua and I talk about his story in Stay True, including his unbelievably non-stereotypical parents, his dive into college music, and his attempt with Ken to put together an homage for the Berry Gordy-produced martial arts film, the Last Dragon.
Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor of Literature at Bard College. Hua serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He was formerly a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Dorothy and Lewis B Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. He is also the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure across the Pacific (Harvard University Press, 2016).