Chang & Birnbaum

Robert Birnbaum’s latest interview is with Lan Samantha Chang, author of the short story collection Hunger, and whose first novel, Inheritance, took ten years to complete. A fair amount of the chat centers around origins, whether national or ethnic, and there are seemingly uncomfortable moments like this one:

RB: [laughs] When you meet people, where do you say you are from?
LSC: Wisconsin.
RB: Wow! Do people then treat you differently?
LSC: Being from the Midwest?
RB: Yeah. And being Chinese from the Midwest.
LSC: When you said ‘Wow,’ did you mean, ‘Wow, you say you are from Wisconsin and you should be saying you are from another country?’
RB: I don’t know what I meant.

But the conversation eventually picks up and and they get to talk about how Chang came to writing, MFA programs, and, of course, Inheritance.