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About Karen Kao Prize

Not the Booker Prize

Readers! You’ve come to this blog at just the right time. I need your help and I need it now. Every year, The Guardian newspaper organizes a contest for the best fiction published in the UK. They call it the Not the Booker Prize as The Guardian casts its net far more widely than the Booker […]

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Books Craft

Lost in Translation

When I first moved to the Netherlands, I worked as a translator. A catalogue for the Rijksmuseum, a Ph.D. dissertation on patients’ rights, an environmental law journal. I translated because it was a way for me to learn Dutch, word by word. It felt like an algebra exercise. Each sentence was an equation. All I […]

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Chinese-American Family ghosts Shanghai

Grandma

This photo of my paternal grandmother was made long after she and my grandfather had fled China. Her life was long and rich. She had witnessed the fall of the Qing dynasty, the rise of Communist China and the landing of the first man on the moon. 15 children Wong Su-ying was born in 1892 […]

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About Karen Kao

Kitten Heels

When I was a lawyer, there was a dress code. It was different in Washington, DC, where I first started practicing law, than in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where I ended up. Americans are more prudish when it comes to office attire. Yet there are common taboos everywhere if you’re trying to make a career. a […]