In Conversation: A Family Ripped Apart

Simon Han’s Nights When Nothing Happened tells the story of the Chengs, a Chinese family living in Texas, and the challenges and costs of pursuing the American Dream. A gripping tale immersed in […]

In Conversation: A Family Ripped Apart

Authors:Cary Barbor, Simon Han

Simon Han’s Nights When Nothing Happened tells the story of the Chengs, a Chinese family living in Texas, and the challenges and costs of pursuing the American Dream. A gripping tale immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped our landscape, Han’s debut – called an exploration of “childhood trauma and the impact words and silence can have on both building and harming relationships” by Booklist – is at heart about finding a way past hurt to discover your peace. WGCU Public Radio’s Cary Barbor, “All Things Considered” host for Southwest Florida, joins him.

Cary Barbor

Cary Barbor is the local host of All Things Considered as well as Gulf Coast Life Book Club at WGCU-FM, the NPR affiliate in Ft. Myers, Florida. She hosted a live interview show called Books and Authors on Sirius XM and went on to host and produce a podcast by the same name. She was a producer for The Leonard Lopate Show, a daily show that covered arts and culture on New York City’s public radio station, WNYC. She also has published widely in such magazines as New York, Salon, and Teen Vogue. 


Simon Han

Simon Han was born in Tianjin, China, and raised in various cities in Texas. His stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Texas Observer, Guernica, The Iowa Review, Electric Literature, and LitHub. Nights When Nothing Happened (Riverhead Books) tell the story of the Chengs. They seem to be model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that set their community against them and bring out secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? Can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy? Kirkus Reviews noted that Han “expertly shifts the ground under the narrative, constantly shaking the snow globe to nudge the reader’s perspective away from the familiar. […] An astutely realized portrait of the collateral damage wrought by the pursuit of the American dream.”

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