RECAP: Community Reading in NYC with Accent Society

This recap was written by Megan Cattel

New York ACTUALLY HAS 12 SEASONS” is a meme that has only gotten more popular with age. Seasons do not gracefully transition in this city; they careen between hellish humidity and biting chill. Before you know it, the sun sets at 4 PM everyday.

While organizing our recent NüVoices x Accent Society reading event in NYC four months ago, I wondered if the weather would truly honor the name my co-hosts Na Zhong and Jiaoyang Li thoughtfully picked out, “Winter Recipes.” But thanks to a blast of Arctic air from Greenland that week, things were delightfully cozy inside our venue, Yu and Me Books, NYC’s first Asian woman-owned bookstore. 

Hannah Bae
Jiaoyang Li and Na Zhong
Mary Wang
Megan Cattel
Ge Gao

Now, I’m writing this event recap at the cusp of winter and spring. The flowers have started to bloom, but the skies are gray. It’s still jacket weather. (It’ll be 3 degrees Celsius tomorrow?!) According to the 12-season calendar, we’re stuck between “Third Winter” and “Spring of Deception.” (So technically, it’s still seasonally appropriate to write a recap about an event called, “Winter Recipes.”)

Our five readers (find out more about each of them below) read a range of fiction and non-fiction about reverse-migration, culture shock, rural living, solitude, the politics of translation, Eileen Chang’s time at Yaddo, and even Dolly Parton. Featuring a stellar lineup of female creators from various cultural backgrounds, the readings offered sneak peeks into some of the writer’s most exciting projects they are working on.

Our event had a full house, with audience members traveling from Baltimore, Connecticut, New Jersey, and all over New York to be with us.

Many thanks to Yu and Me Books for hosting us and Accent Society for partnering with us!

About the readers:

Hannah Bae is a freelance journalist and nonfiction writer who is at work on a memoir about family estrangement and mental illness. She is the 2020 nonfiction winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She was a 2021 Peter Taylor Fellow for The Kenyon Review Writers Workshops and a 2019 Open City fellow in narrative nonfiction at Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She has been hired to teach creative writing for Indiana University’s Writers Conference, Kundiman, Kweli International Literary Festival and The Resort LIC. She has received residencies from the Ragdale Foundation, The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and The Peter Bullough Foundation.

Mary Wang is a writer and editor based in New York. She’s working on a novel about an Asian supermodel whose career implodes once it becomes clear she might not be so Asian after all. She read an excerpt at the Center for Fiction, where she was a 2021-2022 Emerging Writers Fellow. Here’s the link (start at 58:48).

Emily Xueni Jin is a science fiction and fantasy translator, translating both from Chinese to English and the other way around. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2017, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literature at Yale University. As one of the core members of the Clarkesworld-Storycom collaborative project on publishing English translations of Chinese science fiction, she has worked with various prominent Chinese SFF writers. Her most recent Chinese to English translations can be found in AI2041: Ten Visions For Our Future (2021), a collection of science fiction and essays co-written by Dr. Kaifu Lee and Chen Qiufan, and The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories (2022), a Chinese science fiction and fantasy anthology written, edited and translated by women and nonbinary creators. Her most recent English-to-Chinese translation, The Search for Philip K. Dick, the first biography of PKD in Chinese, was published in July, 2020 by Eight Light Minutes. (Check out our recent NüVoices podcast episode with Emily here!)

Ge Gao is a Chinese writer based in New York City. She received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. Her essays have been named Notable in the Best American Essays 2020 and awarded a Pushcart Prize Special Mention in 2021. In 2020, she was awarded the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature. She teaches creative writing at Hunter College.

Na Zhong is a writer and translator based in New York. Her words can be found or are forthcoming in The Margins, Lit Hub, A Public Space, The Shanghai Literary Review, The Millions, among others. She is the Chinese translator of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Normal People.

About Accent Society:

Accent Society is dedicated to nurturing and supporting Chinese writers who write across languages and disciplines through teaching, consulting and publishing. Our mission is to discover and cultivate underrepresented voices and daring artistic visions.

Based in New York City, Accent Society was founded by Na Zhong and Jiaoyang Li in 2019.
重音社(Accent Society)是中国首个服务中英双语写作者的赋能平台,致力于发掘、传播、孵化跨语言、跨地域、跨媒介的新写作,建立文学写作社群,为写作者提供支持和资源,接入世界文学谱系。


About Accent Sisters: A speakeasy and Chinese-language bookstore serving the female and LGBTQ community only.

About Yu and Me Books, the first female Asian-American NYC based bookstore. Our focus is on the strong, diverse voices of our community, with a highlight on immigrant stories. Our carefully curated books and upcoming offerings of beer, wine and coffee cultivate a safe community space to sip, read, and foster some amazing conversations!