YZ Chin, a New York-based software engineer by day and a writer by night, was born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia. Her debut novel, Though I Get Home, is an ode of sorts to Malaysia, intertwining a set of riveting stories to “trace postcolonial memory and political dissidence across the globe.” To close out Women’s History Month, we’ve rounded up four things to know about Chin’s transformative tale, which hits book shelves on April 10 via Feminist Press.
1 It Was Inspired by Emily Dickinson & a Fear of “Self-Imposed Censorship.”
“When I first started writing fiction seriously, it was pointed out to me that I was really holding back from writing about ‘taboo’ topics like sex,” she told Authors 18 in January. “I spent a lot of time exploring the roots of this self-repression, and I realized that I had been conditioned by a lifelong atmosphere of state censorship. That realization formed the seeds for Though I Get Home.” She also shared that the title comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson.
2 It Took Home the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize.
Inspired by Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner—one of the first contemporary American novels to feature a young Black girl as the protagonist—the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize was founded by Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine in 2017 to shine a light on women writers of color. In awarding YZ Chin the inaugural prize, Judge Ana Castillo called her novel “complex and intimate.” Claudia D. Hernández was the second person to take home the award in 2018.
Chin Researched Imprisoned Men Ahead of Writing Her Stirring Debut.
“Two books by unjustly imprisoned men especially informed my work: Universiti Kedua (The Second University) by Kassim Ahmad and Sengsara Kem Kamunting: Kisah Hidup dalam Penjara ISA (The Tortures of Camp Kamunting: Life Behind Bars in the ISA Prison) by Saari Sungib,” she told Authors 18. “And of course, the daily news coming out of not just Malaysia, but also the U.S. and beyond.”
4 Buzzfeed Says You Should Absolutely Read It This Spring.
Earlier this month, Though I Get Home was included on Buzzfeed’s list of 21 Amazing New Books You Need to Read This Spring. “Not only is the writing fascinating and immersive, but this collection will also bring Malaysia’s social and political scenes to life in your mind,” deputy books editor Jarry Lee wrote.
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