The Writer’s Block: A Q&A with Peter Ho Davies

by    /  June 12, 2017  / Comments Off on The Writer’s Block: A Q&A with Peter Ho Davies

Peter Ho Davies has never felt comfortable fully claiming anything. Born to a Welsh father and Chinese mother in Britain, he felt he was never fully seen as “British” when he was growing up in the UK. With his biracial identity, he also felt he wasn’t entirely privy to either of his parents’ cultural backgrounds. As a student of physics, he also felt like he could not fully claim he was a writer. That changed when he emigrated to the United States 25 years ago, where he found that his multiple layers of identity meant that nobody could expect to know anything about him. Since then, he has explored identity in two novels: The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes. His work has also been published in The Paris Review, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and Best American Short Stories, among elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Michigan.

His latest novel, The Fortunes, is actually a book composed of novellas. Each takes place at a different point in history: from the building of the Transcontinental Railroad to the present day. Each novella follows a character who is expected to represent Chinese American identity—and in so doing, he addresses the unequivocal flaw with expecting a part to stand for the whole.

In this Writer’s Block Q&A, Davies discusses the reclamation of language and the role that it plays in shaping identity.

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