Q&A With Curtis Chin

New Information about Upcoming Book Related News

Q&A With Curtis Chin 

I have the honor of doing this Q&A with Curtis Chin who is the author of the memoir Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant. Curtis is also the co-founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York City. Curtis served as the nonprofit’s first executive director. Curtis has gone on to write for network television and now mostly does social justice documentaries. 

Q: Curtis, would you like to give the readers and I a brief description of your memoir Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant? 

A: HI, “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant” is my memoir about growing up Asian in Detroit and coming out to my working class immigrant family, all set against the Reagan Revolution of the 80’s and my family’s popular restaurant. The book is a love letter to my parents, for giving me and my siblings these wonderful lives, as well as to my hometown of Detroit, a city that I think is still misunderstood.

Q: How long did it take you to write Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant?  What made it the right time to write & release it now?

A: It took ten years to go from writing to seeing the book in the bookstore. Given the divisions in this country, I thought a book that looked at these series issues, but with a humorous edge, would be necessary. I think there’s also a lot of interest in the city of Detroit and the changes going on there.

Q: What lessons do you hope readers learn after reading Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant?

A: We live in a divided country, but Chinese restaurants are one of the few places where you can go in and see people from a different race, class, religion or sexual orientation. If you just took the moment to ask the person next to you what they’re eating, you might make a new friend. It’s these small acts that our country needs to learn how to do again.

Q: Are you currently writing your next book? If so, will it be another memoir, a different topic all together, or will you try your hand at fiction this time?

A: Yes, I am working on a follow-up. It’s about the time when my parents were in a car accident and my dad died. I had to leave the TV show I was writing for and go back and take over the family restaurant. It’s called Leftovers.

Q: What was it like writing for network television & now doing documentaries focusing on social justice topics? Which networks did you write for?

A: I’ve written shows and projects for ABC, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, PBS, and more. I like all the different forms, but doing independent documentaries allows me to dictate the story.

Q: What’s it like being the co-founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York City as well as being the nonprofit’s first executive director? What inspired you to find a writer’s workshop for Asian American writers? 

A: After getting into the creative writing program at Michigan, but being the only person of color, I wanted to be surrounded by writers who might understand my writing a little better. It was a fabulous experience to be in my early 20s and to help build this non-profit that still exists today!

Q: Are you currently working on any documentaries and if so, can you hint at what they will be talking about? 

A: Yes, I am currently working on a docuseries on the history of Chinese restaurants in America. Hopefully. It will be just as delicious as the book!