May-lee Chai

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May-lee Chai

May-lee Chai is an award-winning American author of Chinese and Anglo-Irish heritage.

Her novels include My Lucky Face [1], about a Chinese woman in Nanjing balancing work, family, and a tough new job assignment taking care of a foreign teacher ; Dragon Chica [2], about Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge starting over in Texas and Nebraska; and its sequel, Tiger Girl, [3] which won the 2014 APALA Award for Best Young Novel from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association.

Her nonfiction books include the family memoir, The Girl from Purple Mountain[4], which was co-written with her father, the political scientist Winberg Chai. The book, which is narrated in alternating chapters by May-lee and her father, details her grandmother’s decision to be buried alone after helping her family to escape to America after the Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War. The Girl from Purple Mountain was nominated for the National Book Award in nonfiction.

Chai’s other memoir, Hapa Girl [5], was a 2008 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book and received an Honorable Mention from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. It explores violent reactions towards her mixed-race family in a small Midwestern town in the 1980s.

Chai also published a short story and essay collection, Glamorous Asians[6]; translated the 1934 autobiography of Chinese author, Ba Jin[7]; and and co-authored a book about changes in contemporary Chinese society, China A to Z [8]