Swimming in Hong Kong

THE BOOK: Swimming in Hong Kong.


THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Han.

THE EDITOR: The staff of Willow Springs Books out of Eastern Washington University.

THE PUBLISHER:  Willow Springs Books is a university press that is housed at Eastern Washington University.

Stephanie HanSUMMARYThe stories cross the borders and boundaries of Hong Kong, Korea, and the United States. This is an intimate look at those who dare to explore the geography of hope and love, struggle with dreams of longing and home, and wander in the myths of memory and desire. The stories explore the personal conflict that arises when we confront difference, the role of women in multiple cultural contexts, and the struggles of how we invent and remake ourselves, forever led by feelings of love, curiosity, and pathos.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote the first story of this collection in 1997 and while the majority of the stories were done by 2005, the last story of this collection was published in a journal in 2007. The vast majority of these stories were rejected from 100-150 times. I had to wait for the Internet to happen, for people to see polyculturalism in action, or at least through their screens.

WHY THIS TITLE?: It’s the name of the last story of the collection. It is set in a swimming pool in Hong Kong. But I like this title as I also think that it works as it defines an idea of chaos, mixing, and movement through an unexpected area or geographic region.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? People who are interested in lives around the globe, readers who enjoy work that presents the point of view of women protagonists would enjoy this. People who may be keen to understand some aspect of Asia and Asian American life are probably the ones who would be most compelled.


“Swimming in Hong Kong is a fine debut. Han captures a host of young people caught in the complexities of global identity with easy authority; the result rings with authenticity and feeling.” — Gish Jen, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self.

“Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong features precise and subtle meditations on cross-cultural experiences, from Asian Americans in the Midwest and Asia to women negotiating male-dominated worlds. Han gracefully traverses a complicated terrain fraught with the politics of race, sex, class, gender, and culture. Readers will be grateful for having spent time with these quiet and insightful stories.”  Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer, Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“In this poignant, bitter-sweet, sometimes playful, collection, Swimming In Hong Kong, the characters are in search of home, identity, love, respect. They are mostly from China, Korea, and other countries, with some connections to the U.S. Their interactions and intermingling are often full of confusion and misunderstanding as they deal with issues of history, culture, religion, family, displacement, identity. The reader is enlightened as the characters try to cope with complex issues in their lives. The settings are full of striking details. The tone and voice, are varied and engaging.” — Nahid Rachlin, Judge of the 2015 AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction.

“Lovely, searing emotions course through the stories in Swimming in Hong Kong as Stephanie Han beautifully explores the intersection of longing and ethnicity.  Her characters achingly search for connections across societal and racial barriers, struggling to discover love across stereotype, desire without fetish.” — Trey Ellis, Platitudes and Home Repairs.

“Our language when spoken is invisible.  When we write, our words are visible, our stories are visible.  Stephanie Han works this line between visibility and invisibility, between anonymity and naming for the Korean and Korean American characters in this collection with such subtle force that we find that boundaries and borders were moved when we were silently reading to ourselves. Han’s powerful narrative voice doesn’t tell you what it is you don’t know, especially if you’re the colonizer feeling at home.” — Shawn Wong, American Knees and Homebase.

Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong captures the struggle of living between cultures and between identities. Like the people in WG Sebald’s books, Stephanie’s characters live in exile and don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Filled with humor and heartbreak, these stories always feel true and smart.  Stephanie achieves an emotional honesty we rarely see in contemporary fiction.”– Jason Brooks Brown, author Driving the Heart  and Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  www.stephaniehan.com. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I want people to read this to be entertained and to feel. I would like my readers to think that love and connection can happen across time, culture, nation, and difference.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Han/e/B001K8YJ7G

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

PRICE: $19.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.stephaniehan.com;word@stephaniehan.com; stephaniehan@wordsteph twitter

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

2 thoughts on “Swimming in Hong Kong”

    1. Dear Stephanie:

      I’ve thought the same thing myself. If you try to make a point face to face or via telephone, the other person may be too focused on his or her counter argument to really listen. That’s even true on-line (or, they might unfriend you), and television is unreliable as far as holding our attention. But while you might disagree with what’s in a book, you cann’t argue with it in the moment. And perhaps you might think about it later.

      Books also allow the writer to proceed subtly and gradually.




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