Celebrating New Asian American Writing: Elaine Castillo and Jessica Hagedorn

Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 4:30 pm
Sponsor(s): 
Program in American Studies
Lewis Center for the Arts
Department of English

In this month's readings, the Program in American Studies and Program in Asian American Studies honor Filipino American History Month.

Elaine Castillo

Photo of Elaine Castillo. Photo by Amaal Said

Elaine Castillo. Photo by Amaal Said

Elaine Castillo was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, where she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in comparative literature. America Is Not the Heart is her debut novel, and was named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Public Library, Real Simple, Lit Hub, The Boston Globe and more. It has been nominated for the Elle Award, the Center for Fiction Prize, the Aspen Words Prize, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Book Award, the California Book Award, the Bisexual Book Award in Fiction, and Italy’s Fernanda Pivano Prize. Most recently she has written the foreword for the newest edition of Carlos Bulosan’s seminal American classic, America Is in the Heart, published in spring 2019 by Penguin Classics.

Jessica Hagedorn

Photo of Jessica Hagedorn in front of a painting by Laura Owens. Photo by Helen Oji

Jessica Hagedorn in front of a painting by Laura Owens. Photo by Helen Oji

Jessica Hagedorn was born and raised in the Philippines and came to the United States in her early teens. Her novels include Toxicology, Dream Jungle, The Gangster of Love, and Dogeaters, winner of the American Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Award.

Hagedorn is also the author of Danger and Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, and the editor of three anthologies: Manila Noir, Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction and Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World.

Work for the stage includes adaptations of Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love, collaborations with Fabian Obispo (Felix Starro), Mark Bennett (Most Wanted), Campo Santo (Stairway to Heaven, Fe in the Desert), Han Ong (Airport Music), Robbie McCauley & Laurie Carlos (Teenytown), Urban Bushwomen (Heat), Blondell Cummings (The Art of War/Nine Situations), Lawrence “Butch” Morris (Crayon Bondage), Michael Gregory Jackson (Mango Tango), and Ntozake Shange & Thulani Davis (Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon).

Hagedorn wrote the screenplay for Fresh Kill, a feature film directed by Shu Lea Cheang. She wrote the scripts for the experimental animated series The Pink Palace, which was created for the first season of the Oxygen Network.

From 1975-85, Hagedorn led a band called The Gangster Choir. One of their signature songs, “Tenement Lover,” is part of John Giorno’s 1980s music anthology, A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse.

Honors and prizes include a Theater Commissioning Award from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; a Hewlett Foundation Playwriting Award, a Philippine National Book Award, a Lucille Lortel Playwrights’ Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, a Kesselring Prize honorable mention for Dogeaters, an NEA-TCG Playwriting Residency Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the Sundance Playwrights Lab and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

She is presently working on a musical play about the pioneering all-female rock band Fanny.