A Minnesota PBS Initiative

Kao Kalia Yang's Hmong Memoirs

Author Kao Kalia Yang reads from and talks about writing her award-winning book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

This video was originally produced for Twin Cities PBS and MN Original in May 2010.

“The adults continued having nightmares. They cried out in their sleep. In the mornings, they sat at the table and talked to us about their bad dreams: the war was around them, the land was falling to pieces, Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese soldiers were coming, the sound of guns raced with the beating of their hearts. In their dreams, they met people who were no longer alive but who had loved them back in their old lives. 

"There were stomach ulcers from worrying and heads that throbbed late into the night. My aunts and uncles in California farmed on a small acreage, five or ten, to add to the money they received from welfare. My aunts and uncles in Minnesota, in the summers, did “under the table” work to help make ends meet if they could, like harvesting corn or picking baby cucumbers to make pickles. And the adults kept saying: how lucky we are to be in America. I wasn’t convinced.”

“Love is the reason why my mother and father stick together in a hard life when they might each have an easier one apart; love is the reason why you choose a life with someone, and you don't turn back although your heart cries sometimes and your children see you cry and you wish out loud that things were easier. Love is getting up each day and fighting the same fight only to sleep that night in the same bed beside the same person because long ago, when you were younger and you did not see so clearly, you had chosen them.”

― Kao Kalia Yang, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

This story is part of Hmong in America.
Go to the collection.

Biographical Details

Story Subject: Refugee

Story Themes: Art, Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, Death and Loss, Family, Hmong, New Beginnings, Reflection, Refugee, Refugee Camp, Relationships, The Hmong Migration, Writing

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