Photo: Ray Deng


Launch at Beijing Forestry University, October 30
Launch at Looking Glass Books, La Grande, November 20



Beijing Forestry University, April 24-May 9

Beijing Forestry University, October 15-31

Washington State University, Pullman      November 16, 5:30 p.m.

BookPeople of Moscow, Idaho                       November 17, 7:30 p.m.

Whitworth University, Spokane                  November 18, 7:00 p.m.

First Draft Writers

Pendleton Center for the Arts                       November 19, 7:00 p.m.


Roundhouse Reading Series                        

Looking Glass Books, La Grande                  November 20, 7:00 p.m.

University Book Store, Seattle                     November 22, 3:00 p.m.

Watermark Book Company,  Anacortes     November 30, 2:30 p.m.

Anacortes Public Library                               November 30, 7:00 p.m.

Village Books, Bellingham                             December 2, 7:00 p.m.


Santa Fe                                                                                       May

"A Conversation with Writers,"  with Sara Nickerson, Yvonne Leach, and  Joan Burbick  at Trail's End Bookstore, Winthrop WA                                                                      3:00 p.m,  June 22

Beijing Forestry University, October 7-22



May 15, 2013

From the perspective of a writer who has periodically lived in China since the middle of World War II, this collection of sketches of contemporary China probe what the Chinese find important on a daily basis, how they resolve their personal experiences with their public charades, and how they value their dreams, wishes and lies.

They include 1) a look at the numerous American evangelicals teaching in China--armed with biblical inerrancy and imperial arrogance--as they attempt to plumb the Chinese soul while pirating its furniture and children, 2) a profile of Lang Lang's teacher Madame Zhou Guangren, who had survived the cultural ferment of the 60s and its errant and self-serving foreign reporting, and continues to teach, concertize and adjudicate in her 80s, 3) a dialogue with author and Cultural Minister Wang Meng during the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square political spring in 1989, 4) based on conversations with foreign affairs directors, an imagined interview with the confidant of Chairman Mao, whose physician granddaughter overcomes at least twelve centuries of extravagant national violence to tend to her kin in a difficult, familial space, and 5) an expose of pro-democracy student dissidents exploiting a Washington Mall fund-raising parade for the media cameras.

My Private China Alex Kuo plays with the multiple realities of Tiananmen Square China, global China, and post-colonial China.  The shifting scales of ancient, present and future merge into a meditation on China's place and China's space.  Though he may reveal that the tank gun barrels in 1989 Tiananmen were plugged, Kuo is certainly unplugged in this insightful collection."  --R. Edward Grumbine, Where the Dragon Meets the Angry River

With irony, wit and intelligence, Alex Kuo shares his unique experiences in China and Hong Kong.  Part memoir, part cultural analysis, My Private China skewers stereotypes and misconceptions with the sharp eye and beautiful prose of the novelist and poet he is also.  This is a must-read for China watchers and anyone willing to get behind the lazy reporting and political posturing that so often informs writing about China."  --Robert Abel, Riding a Tiger

At Kelly & Walsh, May 20

Launch in Hong Kong

Bookazine (Landmark Building)

Saturday, May 18, 6:00-8:00 P.M.

22 May 2013

Time Out (Hong Kong) interview

5 June 2013

When you sit down with Alex Kuo, you're instantly put at ease. The acclaimed Chinese American author has a calming influence, an elegantly mannered way of speaking and a carefully relaxed tone. And that, to us, is pretty surprising. Here's a man who's just launched his latest book, My Private China, in Hong Kong and it's basically a tome which, through the use of letters, essays, fiction and even poetry, attempts to show the world many aspects of the Middle Kingdom – and Hong Kong, in places – which it would probably prefer to remain hidden. It's a bold move.

My Private China is ostensibly a good, hard look at contemporary China and its people as a memoir but also as a cultural dissection over a period of about 40 years. Each excerpt is written, as Kuo says, 'without a theme or continuity in mind'. There's a piece on American evangelicals in China who attempt to 'plumb the Chinese soul while pirating its furniture and children'. And the opening gambit, which reveals the tank gun barrels in the 1989 Tiananmen incident were plugged – and the famous Tank Man was, in fact, not a student at all – is a poignant start. As the plug says: "This collection of sketches of contemporary China probe what the Chinese find important on a daily basis, how they resolve their personal experiences with their public charades, and how they value their dreams, wishes and lies."

Kuo, who has periodically lived in China since the middle of the Second World War, has an impressive backlog of successful books. In 2011, The Man Who Dammed the Yangtze sold well across the world and his epic collection of short tales, Lipstick and Other Short Stories, won him the American Book Award in 2002. (But he tells us: "This award, like other similar ones, are good for only about six months."). Born in Boston, USA, now living in Washington, and with a history in Hong Kong, China and across the world, he's been writing and teaching for more than half a century.

The 74-year-old launched his new book in Hong Kong on May 18 and his publisher, Blacksmith Books, is looking into other places across the globe to release the publication, including the Mainland. "It should raise quite a few eyebrows in Hong Kong," says Kuo, "as I've taken a very unusual perspective on some sacred cows in HK, as well as Tiananmen Square dissidents, and the Tank Man who allegedly stopped the tanks on June 5, 1989. He was not a student but a secret service agent lining up the tanks – their barrels plugged – for optimal crowd control."

The book, according to Kuo, was going to be printed in Shenzhen but the company behind it, he claims, pulled out due to 'the worst kind of censorship': self-censorship. He maintains it may yet be released in the Mainland.

Kuo, who's now concentrating on the third novel in his 'Ge trilogy', shanghai, shanghai, shanghai, says the Mainland is all about modernisation and globalisation at the moment – 'the good, the bad and the ugly', as he calls it. And, despite his highly relaxed demeanour, he also has a few words for our city. "I think Hong Kong is not in a very competitive position culturally and economically at this point," he says. "To be competitive, it'll have to do something about the education infrastructure first and foremost." To the author, who bought his first book in 1952 just around the corner from where we photograph him near The Peninsula (above), the Chinese government 'lies to its people' – but, in comparison, 'Hong Kong people lie to their government'. "The government in Hong Kong generally applies the rule of law fairly but there's a form of resistance from people, inherent since the British ruled. Some people lie to get what they want from the government."

So, despite his calm demeanour, expect strong words in Kuo's newest work. Expect a poetic yet often damning way of looking at China, its history, its modernity and its people. And expect to look at Hong Kong without the rose-tinted glasses. But, most of all, expect to be engaged.



Trouble in the Wok

With P.K. Leung & Xu Xi

Hong Kong--May, 2012

Photo: Zoe Filipkowska
Photo: Zoe Filipkowska

In Beijing's 798 Art Zone


Asia launch at Bookazine (Prince's Building)

 Hong Kong

Photo: Zoe Filipkowska

With publisher Dania Shawwa and editor Cecilia Chan at Asia launch

Photo: Zoe Filipkowska
Photo: Jeff Hanks
Photo: Jeff Hanks
U.S. launch at Anchor Art Space in Anacortes, Washington 
Photo: Jeff Hanks




"Growing Tomatoes," a prose poem, in short, Alan Ziegler, ed., March, 2014

Subsistence," a short story, Wisconsin Review, 47/1, October, 2013

"The Oshkosh 4,"
a short story, Wisconsin Review, 47/1, October, 2013

The Ambassadors Magazine, exclusive interview, Summer/Fall, 2013

"Contemporary Chinese Writing," World Policy Journal, August 7, 2013

"'Crow or Raven?," a poem, Three Coyotes, December 2011

"Teacher Education," a short story, Three Coyotes, April 2011

"Bitter Melons," a prose poem, Mascara 8, October 2010

"Creative Writing Programs," an essay, Mascara 7, May 2010