Friday, November 06, 2009

Friendliest Publishers for Lao and Hmong Writers?

I often get requests from emerging writers who ask who are the friendliest publishers for the work of Lao and Hmong writers, particularly in the United States. Although it doesn't always feel that way, there is in fact some precedent for many good publishers to print the work of Lao and Hmong writers.

I'll be the first to say it's -not  as great as it could be- but it's a start. Yes, it's especially interesting who DOESN'T publish our work, but let's not focus on the negative, however surprising it may be.

This list is far from complete, but looking at the track records from a book publishing point of view from the last 10 years of books by Lao or Hmong writers (not just 'about' Hmong  or Lao but actually BY).

I definitely would acknowledge the following presses, in no particular order:

Minnesota Historical Society Press released Bamboo Among the Oaks, which was pivotal for the careers of many Hmong and Lao writers, myself included.

Pedlar Press produced two of Lao Canadian writer Souvankham Thammavongsa's classic books of poetry, Small Arguments and Found. To my knowledge, they may have been the first non-Lao press to actively print more than one book by a Lao writer. Hopefully someone can correct me if I'm wrong on this.

University of Washington Press gets a nod for printing the bilingual en-face edition of Outhine Bounyavong's Mother's Beloved, a collection of Lao short stories.

Eastern Washington University Press printed Bounsang Khamkeo's memoir I Little Slave in a very nice edition.

Coffee House Press. Overall does a notable job of publishing and has requested the work of Hmong and Lao writers over the last few years, most notably including Kao Kalia Yang. They also printed the work of Cambodian poet U Sam Ouer, which gets my attention.

Swan Scythe Press printed Pos Moua's fine book of poetry, Where The Torches Are Burning. They also produced Vietnamese American poet Nhan Trinh's excellent Pursue.

New Rivers Press printed Tilting the Continent edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Cheng Lok Chua. I haven't looked at their catalog recently, but I don't think they've done much more with the work of Southeast Asian American writers. Tilting the Continent did include the work of many of my favorite Hmong writers, however.

Heyday Books is producing an anthology of Hmong American writers very soon with the help of the Hmong American Writer's Circle which is great news.

Libraries Unlimited printed the groundbreaking work of Dr. Dia Cha, including Folktales of the Hmong.

Hmongland Publishing Co. printed Dr. Gary Yia Lee's Dust of Life: A True Ban Vinai Story.

Baby Rabbit Publishing printed Saymoukda Vongsay's chapbook No Regrets, but they're very difficult to find at the moment.

Dutton and Plume produced the two novels of T.C. Huo. 

Dok Ked Publishing in Laos also continues to print an impressive range of the work of Lao writers.

Big Brother Mouse also publishes some fine Lao children's books in order to promote literacy.

Sam's Dot Publishing also gets a nod for printing two books of mine, BARROW and On The Other Side Of The Eye, so in full disclosure, I am admittedly biased on this matter.

I can only hope that in the future, other presses will be added to the list as more Lao and Hmong writers continue to emerge from among the over 400,000 living in the United States, as well as the international community. And my apologies if I've missed anyone.

Please feel free to offer your suggestions of publisher's who've done a great job assisting the writing of Lao and Hmong writers!

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