The Beavers Have Returned to Scotland


  1. Hi,
    I just read your book in my Korean-American Literature class (although we did debate the merits of it being included in such a class) and I wanted to tell you how beautiful and touching it was! I think it’s one of my favorite books ever, and it really arrived in my life at the right time. I don’t mean to be gushy, but I can’t help myself (it’s the AZN girl in me 😛 )! Btw, I think I totally fell in non-lustful love with Fee. Hahahha… Anyway, the main reason why I decided to comment was because I wanted to ask you if you had any reading recommendations for someone who really adored Edinburgh? Amazon gives really shitty recommendations (basically anything that’s deemed “Asian”).
    I’m flying to Korea in a few weeks and would love some great books to take with me for the flight (and perhaps for some quiet nights I will spend in the countryside).
    Thank you!

    1. WS: Thanks so much.

      Meanwhile, I assume you’re partly referring to the previous post.

      I should say, I’m used to people trying to kick me out of the category—for being half white, and failing the famous Korean American “Are you Korean enough” test. But nothing changes who my dad was.

      I’m greatly encouraged by the publication of works by 4 Korean American writers in just the last 6 months: Personal Days, by Ed Park; Miles From Nowhere, by Nami Mun; Everything Asian, by Sung J. Woo; and Once the Shore, by Paul Yoon.

      My recommendations to you: The previously mentioned Nami Mun novel (and any of those, really); Black Tickets, by Jayne Anne Phillips; Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson; China Men, by Maxine Hong Kingston; Anywhere But Here, by Mona Simpson. The last 4 I mentioned were works of fiction I read during the writing of Edinburgh, and you may see some of what I learned from them in them.

      Have an amazing time. And thanks again.

  2. re: MFA/writing progs/cultivating your talent – I wonder if you might elaborate on what your experience *was*? (Unless it’s already mentioned elsewhere here and I just missed it!)

    1. I haven’t really written about it. I’ve thought of doing a longer essay called My MFA. Maybe I will. But in that comment on the Menand piece, I was referring more to my experience of teaching writing, which has taught me a lot. One of the first things it taught me was that writing could be taught. And one of the second things was, that people would doubt writing could be taught, perennially. Because they never believe you when you tell them it can be taught.

      It’s much easier to believe it must be talent, but the only talent that matters, I’ve found, is persistence. All of the other talents fail to get the writer across the finish line.

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for the link to the Gladwell piece. You’re right, it is a good tonic–both regarding age and MFA studies.
    I teach in a sculpture program (another type of MFA) and there too, the debate over what can and can’t be taught exists–along with an interesting corollary: what can and can’t be graded (we have strictly credit/no credit). But I’m curious: it sometimes feels that it’s becoming an orthodoxy: to be considered a serious writer (or artist) one almost needs to have an MFA. Is it the price of admission to the club, so to speak ?

    (And yes, in case you wondered, I am that student from the Wesleyan conference )

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