I Wrote About Anti-Asian Violence in 1992; Now It’s Come Full Circle

Nearly 30 years later, my book is relevant again. But why do I feel conflicted about it?

marie myung-ok lee
#StopAsianHate
Published in
7 min readNov 16, 2020

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Finding My Voice book cover against a red and bright pink patterned background.

One of the lesser-known heartaches of achieving your dream of publishing a book is that after all those years of sweat and tears, getting an agent, etc., you presume your book will be in the world maybe forever. But hundreds of books come out every month (in fact, 2018 had over one million self-published books, according to Bowker); in a bookstore, there are a hundred to a thousand books competing for that one space on the shelf. Publishers print a number of copies of a book and send it out into this jungle of bookshelf space (real and virtual). It either sells and they print more, or, more likely, it goes out of print and the remaining copies end up on the deep-discount table.

After my first novel, a young adult story called Finding My Voice, was published 28 years ago and went out of print, it slid into a rare category, a reissue, because it was republished under a new house. That edition also went out of print. Years went by, then BuzzFeed put it on its list of “15 YA Books From The ’80s And ’90s That Have Stood The Test Of Time,” describing it as “about a high school senior’s final months in her small, racist hometown” and noting it was “widely…

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marie myung-ok lee
#StopAsianHate

Columbia Writer-in-Residence. The Evening Hero (Simon & Schuster). Slate, Salon, NY Times, The Atlantic. Forthcoming novel about gun violence: HURT YOU (May)