When Everything Was Everything

By Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay and Cori Nakamura Lin

In the tumultuous years during and after the Vietnam War, thousands of ethnic Lao fled Southeast Asia to avoid persecution, imprisonment and even death. Many of these refugees eventually settled in the Upper Midwest, in and around Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Decades later, the older generation of Lao Americans continues to navigate the trauma of the region-wide conflict that ripped them from their homeland thousands of miles away. Their wounds have yet to scab.

Meanwhile, every generation of Lao still grapples with misrepresentation – or no representation at all – in popular and historical narratives, school curriculums, community conversations, and the arts. As a trans-generational narrative, “When Everything Was Everything” signifies a turning point for Lao American refugee stories.

Artfully stitched together from the author’s own imaginings, reimaginings and memories as a child raised on food stamps and forced into ESL classes while continuously being shuttled from one public housing address to the next, this remarkable picture book is a love letter to survivors that is sure to resonate with readers of all ages.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

IMG_4792_edited.jpg

Cori Nakamura Lin

...is a Japanese/Taiwanese-American illustrator and graphic designer based in Minneapolis & Chicago. Through art she amplifies stories from underrepresented people and cultures. When Everything Was Everything is her first book. Her work can be found at @cori.lin.art or www.corilin.co

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

...is a poet, playwright, and cultural producer. Her work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, and Lazy Hmong Woman Productions. She's received fellowships from the Loft Literary Center and Playwrights Center; and creative grants from Jerome Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Bush Foundation, to name a few. Keep up with her @refugenius.