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[LITERATURE] Linda Sue Park - Author

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  • madchinaman
    http://www.asiandiversity.com/articles/67749994.htm Spotlight on Linda Sue Park By Yueska Honda ©Asian Diversity Linda Sue Park s book A Single Shard won
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12 2:57 AM
      http://www.asiandiversity.com/articles/67749994.htm

      Spotlight on Linda Sue Park
      By Yueska Honda
      ©Asian Diversity

      Linda Sue Park's book 'A Single Shard' won the prestigious 2002
      Newbery Medal. Park is the first Asian American to win the award
      since the 1928, when Dhan Gopal Mukerji, an Asian Indian, won the
      award.

      Although she was raised in a suburb of Illinois, 'A Single Shard'
      takes place in 12th century Korea, and centers on an orphan and his
      developing friendship with a potter.

      Tell our readers a little bit about your background and your
      experiences growing up in the United States.

      My parents came over from Korea in the 1950s. At the time, there were
      a few Korean families in the Illinois neighborhood I was raised in,
      but nothing like the communities you find now.

      My parents figured the best way for their children to succeed was to
      be as American as possible, so they raised us speaking only English.
      At the same time, we had a lot of Korean culture in the home in terms
      of holiday, food and values, and especially in terms of the focus on
      education.

      Having grown up in the United States, how did you start writing
      children's books focusing on ancient Korean culture?

      My husband is Irish, so my children are half-Korean, but I didn't
      know much about Korean culture. I wanted to learn more about the
      culture for them and for myself as well. So I started doing some
      research and it turned out to be a wonderful, really fascinating
      culture.

      How important is it for children to read about characters that look
      like them, or come from a similar cultural background?

      It's important for children to see themselves in the world. One of
      the very basic primal needs is the need to belong in the world, and
      one way to do that is to see ourselves represented in it - it's an
      affirmation that you belong here.

      I love the cover of my first book SeeSaw Girl. When I was a little
      girl, I would have been so excited if I had seen a book like that on
      the shelf.

      When you write, are you conscious of the impact your stories may have
      for Asian kids, or are you just focusing on what you think will make
      good reading?

      I like to think I'm just writing a nice story, but whether I like it
      or not, there's a responsibility that comes with what I'm doing.
      There are about 5,000 children's book published a year, and last year
      about 53 were by Asians or had Asian protagonists. Even in terms of
      proportion of population, that's way too little.

      But your books go beyond just being about Asian characters - they're
      really for everybody.

      Right. There are so few Asian protagonists in books now. In that way,
      my books are for Asian children. But the books are also educational
      about Korean culture - it's a small country and there isn't too much
      information out there about it. Any child who likes to read - no
      matter what color - will like it.

      Do you think there's an increasing demand for books that center on
      the Asian-American experience? Not only among children, but for
      adults as well.

      In the past few years publishers have been seeking out diversity in
      general. For Asians in particular, it's the chicken and the egg
      thing; the Asian population had to become well established in the
      country in order for there to be a real demand for books about their
      experiences.

      Now people are talking about this explosion of Asian- American
      writers, but it's really a matter of timing. A lot of second- and
      third-generation Asian Americans who grew up being fluent in English
      are coming of age, and so it's natural that we're just now starting
      to see some of them writing books.
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