Stay True: A Book Launch and Conversation with Hua Hsu and Lucy Sante

Join us for the launch of New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu’s much-anticipated memoir of friendship, music, art, and grief, Stay True.

In the eyes of eighteen-year old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken—with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity—is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes ’zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn’t seem to have a place for either of them.

But despite his first impressions, Hua and Ken forge a deep friendship built on late-night conversations over cigarettes, long drives along the California coast, and the textbook successes and humiliations of everyday college life. And then violently, senselessly, Ken is gone, killed in a carjacking, not even three years after the day they first meet.

Determined to hold on to all that was left of one of his closest friends—his memories—Hua turned to writing. Stay True is the book he’s been working on ever since.

This special celebration will feature a conversation between Hsu and Lucy Sante, along with music by Elliot Kleinman of Earth Dad.

Advanced tickets, with a copy of Stay True included, are available. Books will also be for sale at the event, which will feature a book signing with Hua Hsu.

Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor of Literature at Bard College. He is the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific, and he publishes a zine about life and music called Suspended in Time. Hsu serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and Critical Minded. Stay True will be published by Doubleday on September 27.

Lucy Sante was born in Verviers, Belgium, and is the author of seven books including, most recently, Nineteen Reservoirs. Sante’s other books include Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, Kill All Your Darlings, The Other Paris, Folk Photography, and Maybe the People Would Be the Times. She is the recipient of a Whiting Award, Guggenheim and Cullman fellowships, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy (for album notes), and an Infinity Award for Writing from the International Center of Photography. Sante has contributed to the New York Review of Books since 1981 and to many other publications. She teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College and lives in Ulster County, New York. 

Eliot Kleinman is one half of the NYC puzzle-rock band Earth Dad.

This program is part of PW Broadcast's Author Talks, a series highlighting authors and thinkers across disciplines.

Pioneer Works Broadcast is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, bridging the two cultures of science and the arts.