Past Events

If you’re looking for an upcoming author event, check the Events page in the navigation bar above. This section is an overview of my past author events. Sometimes the event is live or it gets taped for later airing. I might be on my own or with a crowd of other authors.

Jenny Offill Master Class

Jenny Offill came to Amsterdam in July 2022. I heard her speak at De Balie and was so enthralled that I waited in line afterwards to invite her to give a master class at the International Writers’ Collective. Listen to what she had to say or, if you prefer your information to enter through your eyes, read my event report / book review of her novel Weather. Event date: 17 July 2022.

Jing-Jing Lee Master Class

Image credit: International Writers’ Collective

As a teacher of creative writing, it’s a joy to interview authors about their work, the craft decisions that led to it and the messy process called writing. For the International Writers’ Collective, I got to interview Jing-Jing Lee, author of the award-winning novel When We Disappeared, the novella If I Could Tell You and the poetry collection And Other Rivers.

You can listen to that interview here. Event date: 11 July 2021.

Caoilinn Hughes Master Class

This master class was organized by the International Writers’ Collective, where I teach. As the event title reveals, however, I was not the one giving the master class. Instead, it was Caoilinn Hughes who spoke about her own writing career, process, ups and downs. And I got to facilitate.

Orchid and the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes
Orchid and the Wasp by Caolinn Hughes. Image source: International Writers Collective

It turned out to be a lot of fun! Caoilinn is a great extemporaneous speaker. Just a nudge and off she goes. She spoke about a variety of topics near and dear to the writing heart: what to do when you get stuck, choosing the right form, and designing the unlikable female protagonist.

As is the custom for the International Writers’ Collective, the class was audio-taped. You can listen to it here. Event date: 28 July 2019.

Caoilinn Hughes Master Class for the International Writers’ Collective

Day of Writing and Publishing

student event
Image source: Expanded Field Journal

This all-day event was organized by Expanded Field Journal, an English-Dutch language literary journal housed at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The target audience was students and, based on the show of hands, all aspiring writers.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate in all of the events. I didn’t step in until the panel discussion to join two other writers talking about our writing process, how to make money off of writing, and more. Event date: 17.06.2019.

Me, Asian?!!!

LUC Asian panel
Me, Asian? Image source: LUC event page

This was a panel performance for the Leiden University College in The Hague, one of a series of lectures on the Asian identity. In this case, writers from the Asian diaspora whose roots lie in Pakistan, China or Indonesia but whose lives have brought them to the Netherlands.

The panelists that evening were Naema Tahir, Huan Hsu, Gustaaf Peek and yours truly. The event was organized by Ajay Gandhi. Event date: 24.04.2019.


Image courtesy of

An opportunity of a lifetime: to curate an evening of prose, poetry, and spoken word performance for VERSO, a live literary journal based here in Amsterdam.

As guest editor, I got to choose the line-up and, within the general theme of MASS, to tweak the concept in my own direction. That direction turned out to be Formulae.

You can find the editorial I wrote / performed in my blog post Mass: Formulae together with the introduction of all the performers that night. Not to mention the pretty pictures! Event date: 14.04.2019.

Guest lecture

AUC event
Amsterdam University College. Image source:

It was quite an honor to be invited by university lecturers Huan Hsu and Wade Geary to speak at the Amsterdam University College. For one morning last fall, I was a guest lecturer to their combined creative writing classes. I spoke about how hard it can be to extract fiction from real life and how a 500 word piece of flash fiction can take five years to write. Event date: 31.10.2018

Journal writing workshop

This was another event organized through the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam. Some of the participants in this afternoon workshop had always wanted to write, were already writing or had never touched a pen in their life but were willing to try. Event date: 18.10.2018

Master class

Master Class announcement
Master Class. Image source:

During the summer of 2018, the International Writers’ Collective organized a series of Master Classes, featuring local and visiting authors. In my Master Class, IWC director Sarah Carriger and I spoke about the inspiration for my debut novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, how to handle violence in fiction and my choice not to conduct any historical research until after I’d finished writing the story. You can read my take on that afternoon session or listen to the full class here. Event date: 22.07.2018.

International Writers’ Collective Master Class with Karen Kao

Not Just Hemingway podcast

podcast event
Not Just Hemingway. Image source:

Dieuwke van Turenhout is crazy about short stories. That’s what her website Not Just Hemingway is all about. She invited me to choose a favorite short story and talk about it with her for a podcast. I chose “Afternoon at the Bakery” by Yoko Ogawa from her wonderful collection Revenge. I’m hoping Dieuwke will soon add our podcast to her website, along with the podcast notes. For now you can listen to our conversation via SoundCloud. Recording date: 03.07.2018

Spring reading

At the end of every semester, the International Writers’ Collective organizes an event for students and faculty to read from their work in public. I got to tag along as a future faculty member reading from The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Event date: 20.04.2018

Another afternoon of readings

group reading event
Reading at Pages Bookstore Cafe Amsterdam. Photo credit: Frans Verhagen

Back by popular demand was how we marketed this event, though in truth it was simply our own desire to get back on stage. By we, I mean Dipika Mukherjee, that globetrotter, who was the instigation for the reading at Pages Bookstore in October 2017.

This time, we put together a whole new line-up of poets, humorists, fiction and non-fiction writers.

There was a bit of a bump en route to this reading but in the end it all worked out fine. You can read more about that bump here. Event date: 25.02.2018

Get the funk out!

interview event
KUCI fm logo. Image source:

A surprise stop at radio station KUCI 88.9 fm on the Get the Funk Out show with host and producer Janeane Bernstein. We talked about cliff-diving, writing by the seat of your pants and more. You can listen to the whole interview here. 16.10.2017.

US book tour

I had 5 speaking engagements lined up for October 2017.

First stop: my college alma mater courtesy of Chancellor’s Professor of History and China expert, Jeff Wasserstrom. It was a brown bag lunch on 13.10.2017 with a diverse group of grad students: literature, economics and of course history. We talked about the historical resources I’ve used to create the backdrop to The Dancing Girl and the Turtle and continue to mine for the remaining volumes of The Shanghai Quartet.

Ramona Convent Tiger for Life! Photo credit: Karen Kao

Next stop: my high school alma mater Ramona Convent Secondary School, starting with my 40th high school reunion on 14.10.2017 and ending with a full day of lectures on 19.10.2017 to over 200 members of the Ramona student body. Here’s the RCSS newsletter for faculty and students that announced my appearance. You can find my interview with the alumni magazine below.

Another splashy announcement appeared in the October 2017 newsletter of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. I spoke at their monthly meeting on 18.10.2017.

Brandon Horrocks, Nancy Lo and me at the SDCHM / APHAFIC reading

Last but not least was the author meet & greet co-hosted by the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum and the Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China. That event took place on 21.10.2017. How fun is this to get written up in the local Chinese language newspaper We Chinese?

Reading at Pages bookstore cafe

reading event
Dipika Mukherjee and Karen Kao. Photo credit: Armelle van Helden

The irrepressible Dipika Mukherjee and I co-hosted a reading by local storytellers, poets and fiction writers. All of us have, at one time or another, actively participated in the Amsterdam writers community and some of us still do.

This was the line-up:

Special thanks go out to Pages Bookstore Cafe Amsterdam. Founded by Syrian refugees, Pages is a pop-up bookstore, cafe and much more.

It is the home for music, for arts and literature, a haven of love… and a place to all of us, Pages is us! Pages is for artists, painters, musicians and filmmakers.

Event date: 07.10.2017

Book launch & first US tour

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle launched on 1 April 2017. Two days later, I left for the States for my very own DIY book tour. Check out the pretty photos of the launch and read about the book tour here.

Last updated on 18.08.2021