Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meet Allen Say

Allen Say is a rare gem: a gifted artist, a profoundly expressive yet economical writer and a deeply imaginative and thoughtful human being. His books capture for me, more clearly than any others I have read, the experience of belonging to more than one culture.

Say's fascinating personal history spans multiple cultures. As his website relates, he grew up in Tokyo, his father "a Korean orphan raised by a British family in Shanghai, and his mother, a Japanese American born in Oakland, California." Many of his books - Grandfather's Journey, Tea with Milk, Tree of Cranes - are autobiographical in nature, while others - El Chino, Allison, Erika-san - center around this theme of belonging.

This past weekend Say made two appearances in the Seattle area. I was fortunate enough to see him at the Wing Luke Asian Museum where he talked about his upcoming projects (a graphic novel version of his memoir The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice and a picture book based on an event that took place when he was 5 years old), gave a slide show about his life and work, and signed books.

Say was a gracious, modest and engaging speaker. If you're not already familiar with this talented man and his incredible books, you are in for a treat!

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