Author Curtis Chin in Naperville serving up diversity and acceptance in new book

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On Monday, Nov. 9, award-winning author Curtis Chin visited Wentz Concert Hall to promote his new book, titled “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant.”

The non-profit Chinese American Women in Action (CAWA) organized the event with support from North Central College, Naperville Bank and Trust, and Anderson’s Bookshop.

“We just thought this is an opportunity for Napervillians to come together and talk about similarities and their distinct backgrounds,” said Nancy Chen, president of CAWA.

The power of food

Chin’s memoir focuses on his childhood as a gay Asian American living in Detroit during the 1980s. Many of the stories revolve around his time working at his family’s restaurant.

“When you’re a kid, sometimes your parents will say ‘don’t talk to strangers.’ Our parents gave us the exact opposite instruction. They said talk to strangers, and the people they were talking about were sitting in our dining room,” said Chin. “I really got to see the whole of the city, and I think that was the greatest education.

During the panel discussion, Chin talked about his belief that connecting through food is one potential avenue towards fostering more cultural acceptance.

“I’ve been very concerned about our country lately, how divided we are, people don’t talk to each other. But I feel like food is one of those things that can draw people together. Chinese restaurants, in particular. It’s one of the few places where you can go in and see someone from a different race, socioeconomic background, or religion,” said Chin. “Who knows, maybe if you just looked over at the table next to you and started a conversation, like ‘Hey, what are you eating?’ Those could be the baby steps we need to take as a country to try to start reconnecting with one another.”

Face time with Curtis Chin

Following the talk, attendees had a chance to chat with author and get their books signed.

Chin is scheduled to make more than a dozen similar stops on his tour over the next month.

This is the second time in as many years that Chin is making headlines with his work. In May of 2022, he released a short documentary titled “Dear Corky” which detailed the life of Asian-American photojournalist Corky Lee.

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