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Reading Together 2022

Meet the Author: Thi Bui

Tuesday, March 22, 2022Photo of Thi Bui
7 pm

This event was recorded and is available on KPL TV

Kalamazoo Public Library is pleased to announce its Reading Together 2022 title, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by award-winning author and cartoonist Thi Bui. Meet the author virtually on KPL’s live streaming event site, KPL Live at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Copies of the book are now available at all KPL locations.

Reading Together 2022 Brochure PDF

About the Book
This is the first time in its 20-year history that a graphic novel has been selected for the Reading Together program. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

Book Cover for The Best We Could Do by Thi BuiAt the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

About the Author
Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and came to the United States in 1978 as part of the “boat people” wave of refugees fleeing Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. Her debut graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do (Abrams ComicArts, 2017) has been selected for an American Book Award, a Common Book for UCLA and other colleges and universities, an all-city read by Seattle and San Francisco public libraries, a National Book Critics Circle finalist in autobiography, and an Eisner Award finalist in reality-based comics. It made over thirty best of 2017 book lists, including Bill Gates’ top five picks. She illustrated the picture book, A Different Pond, written by the poet Bao Phi (Capstone, 2017), for which she won a Caldecott Honor. With her son, Hien, she co-illustrated the children’s book, Chicken of the Sea (McSweeney’s, 2019), written by Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and his son, Ellison. Her short comics can be found online at The Nib, PEN America, and BOOM California. She is currently researching and drawing a work of graphic nonfiction about immigrant detention and deportation, to be published by One World, Random House.

Kalamazoo Public Library gratefully acknowledges the partners who have participated in all 20 years of Reading Together as financial supporters, event hosts, program presenters, and committee members. This year we especially want to thank the following individuals and organizations for their role in bringing Reading Together 2022 to our community. Amy Brandt, Angela Graham, Anna Moss, Aubrey Jewell Rodgers, Brianna Jackson, Dawn Richmond, Disability Network Southwest Michigan, E Simon Wolff, Elizabeth Manwell, Fetzer Institute, Gail Griffin, Gwen Athene Tarbox, Jennifer Heymoss, Juliana Espinosa, Kala Luzia, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Karen Woodworth, Kenjji Jumanne Marshall, Leatrice Fullerton, Lisa Godfrey, The Michigan News Agency, Parchment Community Library, Pamela Rups, Portage District Library, Ruth Cowles, Sandra Farag, Sara Blomgren, Shahana Afsar, Shukurani Nsengiyumva, Stacy Nowicki, Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo, Theodore Gill, Wessam Abdelaziz, Western Michigan University, Ying Zeng, and Zoey Blake.

This year’s Reading Together is sponsored by Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library.

To suggest a title for future consideration, please contact [email protected].


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