The University of Iowa

‘The Latehomecomer’ is One Community, One Book choice for fall 2012

May 23rd, 2012

The Latehomecomer
“The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir” by Kao Kalia Yang is this year’s book choice for the One Community, One Book annual reading program, sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR) in International Programs.

Now in its 12th year, One Community, One Book encourages community members to read and come together to discuss the same book selection with a human rights or social justice theme. Discussion forums will be held in a variety of locations from September through November.

The book begins with the history of the Hmong people as they become increasingly a people without a country after the Vietnam War. Much of the book follows Yang’s extended family as they made a dangerous escape from the jungles of Laos to the refugee camps of Thailand where they remained for six years. Eventually they were accepted to settle in the United States, and her nuclear family moved to St. Paul, Minn.  She describes beautifully the cultural assimilation process as the Yang family members become Americans.

Kao Kalia YangYang was born in a refugee camp in Thailand but Minnesota became her first true home. She is a graduate of Carleton College and earned a master’s degree in Creative Non-Fiction Writing from Columbia University. She is the co-founder of Words Wanted, an agency dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. She has also released a documentary film, “The Place Where We Were Born,” which describes the experiences of Hmong American refugees.

Details will follow about a pending author visit in late September and will be available at the UICHR website, Community discussion forums will also be listed on the website as those arrangements are made. For more information about One Community, One Book and the 2012 project, please contact Joan Nashelsky at

Images courtesy of Coffee House Press
Photo credit: Der Yang