Ed Lin recently read portions of his new book Snakes Can't Run at the open mic series hosted by the Boston Progress Arts Collective. Snakes Can't Run is a sequel to Ed's book This Is a Bust, published in 2007, which follows detective Robert Chow's investigations of mysterious deaths around New York City. Ed is also the author of the popular book Waylaid, which became the movie The Motel directed by Michael Kang and co-starred Sung Kang.
One thing I have always liked about Ed's books, are how authentically and knowledgeably he writes about second+ generation Asian Americans, as well as about Chinese culture and behaviors, without pandering to non-Asian readers by falsely exoticizing or misrepresenting the character's heritage. It was a personal thrill to hear him read from portions of his book in the various tones of the characters he's created. I consider Ed Lin a big part of the newer generation of Asian American authors (along with David Yoo and Gene Luen Yang), who write works with accent-free American protagonists. Their ethnicity is present and there is a bit more self-acceptance/actualization of it, but the characters aren't necessarily defined or pre-occupied by it. Ed is currently on a book reading tour, and those of you on the West Coast can catch him at various locations later this month.
I also wanted to write about the Boston Progress Arts Collective, a wonderful nurturing place for artists I have known about for years, but wish I had frequented many years earlier. BPAC recently celebrated its 5-year anniversary last month, and serves as a community for Asian American artists of all types to share, collaborate, and perform. Every other Friday it holds an Open Mic, for anyone to come perform live music, share spoken word and poetry, as well as some free style.
Other events include Open Orchestra (unscripted, shared music playing), as well as improv. The caliber of artists who frequent these events is extremely impressive. Past performers at BPAC have included Beau Sia, Kevin So, and Vudoo Soul to name just a few of many. You can join their Facebook group here.
BPAC's events are held inside the East Meets West bookstore in Cambridge, which claims to sell the largest collection of independent Asian American works on the East Coast. BPAC also runs Boston Progress Radio, an online radio show. For those who may be interested, Boston Progress is currently seeking more volunteers to help out. Also, for those readers in New York City, Ed Lin co-runs the open mic at the Asian American Writer's Workshop.
Finally, one open mic performer I saw and wanted to give special mention to was Cynthia Lin, a very talented musician who sings and plays acoustic guitar with a soft folksy and jazzy feel. Cynthia is currently finishing up her third album, and you can hear some songs from her previous two albums on her website, as well as support her work. A longer piece on Cynthia is coming up on this blog soon, by our own Cynthia (Brothers).