On December 3rd, I attended a reading at Green Apple Books for Mimi Lok’s new publication Last of Her Name. During the reading, another writer, Dave Eggers, asked Mimi Lok multiple questions about her book. One of the most appealing parts of Mimi Lok’s reading was when she actually read from the book, which she did with confidence as if she had memorized the excerpt. I noticed that she made successful jokes. The feeling was as if she was at a dinner party, trying to lighten the mood.
Lok tried to look into everyone’s eyes while she read so that they would pay attention. It worked very well, when she turned towards me, I immediately grasped onto every word. During her reading, Lok often asked if she was loud enough or too slow, to make sure everyone there could understand what she was saying.
Since it was such a small space, it felt like I got close and personal with the author, allowing me to soak in everything she said. The main thing this reading got across was that she represented many unheard and ignored voices in the world. For example, an old homeless lady who had nowhere else to go. Right before Lok opened the floor for questions, she briefly discussed her editing process. She would often send half-written stories to her editor, who is a Buddhist priest who understood underlying patterns in Lok’s work. One pattern was the fact that Lok tended to-do lists of images, so the editor learned to work with that. Dave Eggers asked, “How do you get inspiration for your stories?” Lok replied by saying that she had heard a news story about a woman living in a man’s closet for a year, so she wrote about a granny who decided to live in a man’s closet. She wanted the audience to know that real-world inspiration is a great inspiration.
While listening to one of the stories in Last of Her Name, Lok used lists to make imagery. She would list images like all the foods Granny Ng planned to steal then pulled them together by showing how they all connected. Making them all form a setting in which the reader could imagine. In the end, as a bonus, there was an array of Pocky and White Rabbit candies.
By Jude Wong
Class of 2023