Arts and Entertainment

West Sound Reads brings in big-name author

New York Times bestselling novelist Lisa See will speak Feb. 25 at Olympic College. - courtesy photo
New York Times bestselling novelist Lisa See will speak Feb. 25 at Olympic College.
— image credit: courtesy photo

Internationally acclaimed author and freelance journalist Lisa See has found a niche in unwritten stories.

With an intrigue for stories that have been lost, forgotten or deliberately covered up, she seems to have innate knack for getting close enough to those tales to tell them from the inside. Especially those close to her Chinese American roots.

She was born in Paris, but grew up in Los Angeles, spending most of her time with her grandparents at their family store in Chinatown.

Her first book “On Gold Mountain” (1995) delved into one of those stories closest to home, relating the odyssey of her great-grandfather, Fong See, a Chinese immigrant who became the Godfather of L.A.’s Chinatown.

The story was related to her by her great aunt and grandmother during afternoons at the family store. She then crafted the tale into a national best seller and a New York Times notable for her publishing debut.

Details collected from the research of “Gold Mountain” spawned the idea for See’s first novel “Flower Net,” (1997) a suspenseful story of a Chinese cop who joins an American attorney to investigate the deadly conspiracy of Chinese gangs, government and big business.

It was another national bestseller and also earned a nomination for an Edgar award for best first fiction. Two more suspense thrillers featuring the “Flower Net’s” protagonists followed in 2000 and 2003, then came See’s masterpiece — “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” in 2005.

Set in 19th century China, “Snow Flower” tells the story of a language kept secret for a thousand years which isolated women used to reach out of their bondage and share their hopes, dreams and accomplishments in code.

It was met with international praise and translated into 36 different languages.

See’s new novel “Peony in Love” — which hit shelves Feb. 19 — goes back to 17th century China in the Yangzi River delta, once again evoking themes of female friendship, the power of words and the desire all women have to be heard.

“Peony” tells the story of a young girl who is cloistered by a wealthy family with a mother who believes “unmarried girls should not be seen in public.”

Based on a true story, the story follows Peony’s journey of love, sorrow, destiny and desire.

See will relate both that and her own story at 7 p.m. Feb. 25, when she comes to speak at Olympic College in Bremerton.

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