Episode 217: Write Dangerously — Interview with Yang Huang

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am delighted to have Yang Huang on the show!

Yang is an author and former engineer. She grew up in China’s Jiangsu province where she  participated in the 1989 student uprisings, and moved to the U.S. to attend Boston College.

Her debut novel, Living Treasures, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal in fiction, and her essays and short stories have appeared in several notable magazines and journals including The Margins, Asian Pacific American Journal, and Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine just to name a few.

Her latest book, My Old Faithful, is a collection of interlinked short stories centered around the five members of one totally ordinary yet thrillingly singular Chinese family.

So listen in as Yang and I chat about this amazing story collection, and how and why you should always write dangerously.

In this episode Yang and I discuss:

  • The benefits of writing in your non-native language.
  • Interlinked short story collections vs. multiple P.O.V. novels.
  • How to immerse yourself in your character’s world, why you should.
  • Why diverse readers need diverse writers.
  • Risking it all, pushing your writing (and your readers) to the edge.

Plus, Yang’s #1 tip for writers.

About Yang Huang

Yang Huang grew up in China’s Jiangsu province and participated in the 1989 student uprisings. Her debut novel, Living Treasures, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal in fiction, and her essays and short stories have appeared in The Margins, Eleven Eleven, Asian Pacific American Journal, the Evansville Review, Futures, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Nuvein. Her latest work of fiction, a short story collection centered around a Chinese family titled My Old Faithful, is now available.

Yang now lives and writes in the Bay Area where she also works for the University of California, Berkeley.

To connect with Yang check out her website at www.yanghuang.com.

My Old Faithful

My Old Faithful is a tender collection of interconnected stories that introduces readers to a totally ordinary yet thrillingly singular Chinese family. The writing is remarkable in its sense of place and fidelity to lived human experience.

The ten short stories, which take place in China and the US over three decades, depict what Huang calls the “grass people” of China—middle-class citizens with little political clout who struggle to make their voices heard. In particular she focuses on one close-knit family, offering narratives from the mother, the father, the son and the daughters. They merge to paint a textured portrait of family life, full of pain, surprises, and subtle acts of courage.

With quiet humor and sharp insights, My Old Faithful shows both the drama of familial intimacy and the ups and downs of the everyday, all playing out against the backdrop of tremendous social change. Huang writes of a father who spanks his son out of love, a brother who betrays his sister, and a young woman who dares bring a brown man home to her conservative parents. There’s an aging wife who shows kindness to a young prostitute caught soliciting her husband and a woman returning to China after many years to find her country changed in ways both expected and startling.

Huang is a former engineer who grew up in Jiangsu province in China and moved to the US to attend Boston College. Her formative experiences in the democracy movement and the 1989 student uprising taught her that “one can strive to live with dignity and honor in an unjust society.” Her fiction carries in it this undercurrent of everyday human bravery.


If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!


Link to Episode 217

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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