Margaret Juhae Lee and Tessa Hulls

In conversation about their recent memoirs
Margaret Juhae Lee Tessa Hulls Mesa Refuge Point Reyes Books
Saturday, March 23, 2024 - 2:00pm
Dance Palace
503 B St.
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Tickets: 

Free, registration requested

Margaret Juhae Lee in conversation with graphic novelist Tessa Hulls about family legacy, immigration, and lost history—through the lens of their recent memoirs.

This event is presented in partnership with the Mesa Refuge.

REGISTER HERE

About the books

“Absorbing...Starry Field reminds us that even knowing where we came from won’t tell us where we’re going - but it will help along the way.” Susan Choi, National Book Award winning author of Trust Exercise

As a young girl growing up in Houston, Margaret Juhae Lee never heard about her grandfather, Lee Chul Ha. His history was lost in early twentieth-century Korea, and guarded by Margaret’s grandmother, who Chul Ha left widowed in 1936 with two young sons. To his surviving family, Lee Chul Ha was a criminal, and his granddaughter was determined to figure out why. 

Starry Field: A Memoir of Lost History chronicles Chul Ha’s untold story. Combining investigative journalism, oral history, and archival research, Margaret reveals the truth about the grandfather she never knew. What she found is that Lee Chul Ha was not a source of shame; he was a student revolutionary imprisoned in 1929 for protesting the Japanese government’s colonization of Korea. He was a hero—and eventually honored as a Patriot of South Korea almost 60 years after his death.

But reclaiming her grandfather’s legacy, in the end, isn’t what Margaret finds the most valuable. It is through the series of three long-form interviews with her grandmother that Margaret finally finds a sense of recognition she’s been missing her entire life. A story of healing old wounds and the reputation of an extraordinary young man, Starry Field bridges the tales of two women, generations and oceans apart, who share the desire to build family in someplace called home.

Starry Field weaves together the stories of Margaret’s family against the backdrop of Korea’s tumultuous modern history, with a powerful question at its heart. Can we ever separate ourselves from our family’s past—and if the answer is yes, should we? 

"Feeding Ghosts reminds us how much the personal is political . . . an audacious, awe-inspiring feat. For me, it was an essential read." —Ling Ma, author of Bliss Montage
In her evocative, genre-defying graphic memoir, Tessa Hulls tells the story of three generations of women in her family: her Chinese grandmother, Sun Yi; her mother, Rose; and herself.

Sun Yi was a Shanghai journalist caught in the political crosshairs of the 1949 Communist victory. After eight years of government harassment, she fled to Hong Kong with her daughter. Upon arrival, Sun Yi wrote a bestselling memoir about her persecution and survival, used the proceeds to put Rose in an elite boarding school—and promptly had a breakdown that left her committed to a mental institution. Rose eventually came to the United States on a scholarship and brought Sun Yi to live with her.

Tessa watched her mother care for Sun Yi, both of them struggling under the weight of Sun Yi's unexamined trauma and mental illness. Vowing to escape her mother’s smothering fear, Tessa left home and traveled to the farthest-flung corners of the globe (Antarctica). But at the age of thirty, it starts to feel less like freedom and more like running away, and she returns home to face the history that shaped her family.

Extensively researched and gorgeously rendered, Feeding Ghosts is Hulls’s homecoming, a vivid journey into the beating heart of one family, set against the dark backdrop of Chinese history. By turns fascinating and heartbreaking, inventive and poignant, Feeding Ghosts exposes the fear and trauma that haunt generations, and the love that holds them together.

About the authors

Margaret Juhae Lee is an Oakland-based writer and a former literary editor of The Nation magazine. She has been the recipient of a Bunting Fellowship from Harvard University, and a Korean Studies Fellowship from the Korean Foundation. She is also a Tin House scholar, and has been awarded residencies at the Mesa Refuge, the Anderson Center, and Mineral School. In 2020, she was named “Person of the Year” by the Sangcheol Cultural Welfare Foundation in Kongju, South Korea, for her work in honoring her grandfather, Patriot Lee Chul Ha. Her articles, reviews, and interviews have been published in The NationNewsdayElleARTnewsThe AdvocateThe Progressive and The Rumpus.

Tessa Hulls is an artist, a writer, and an adventurer. Her essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Atlas Obscura, and Adventure Journal, and her comics have been published in The Rumpus, City Arts, and SPARK. She has received grants from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and 4Culture, and she is a fellowship recipient from the Washington Artist Trust. Feeding Ghosts is her first book.

Feeding Ghosts: A Graphic Memoir By Tessa Hulls Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780374601652
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD - March 5th, 2024

Starry Field: A Memoir of Lost History By Margaret Juhae Lee Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9781685890933
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - March 5th, 2024