In person: Kao Kalia Yang Family Event at Milkweed Books

Milkweed Books
1011 S Washington Avenue
Suite 107
Minneapolis, MN 55415
United States


(612) 215-2540

Update: Kalia is so popular! Our Eventbrite link says sold out, but this event is free and open to the public, no tickets or RSVP required to attend.


Please join Milkweed as we welcome Kao Kalia Yang to our bookstore for a reading of her two newest children’s books, Caged and The Rock in My Throat, and a discussion around her memoir, Where Rivers Part: A Story of My Mother’s Life. This a family-friendly event, with book illustrations and snacks geared towards children. We encourage you to bring everyone along.


About the speaker

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong American teacher, speaker, and writer. Her work crosses audiences and genres. She is the award-winning author of the memoirs, The Latehomecomer, The Song Poet, Somewhere in the Unknown World, and Where Rivers Part. Yang co-edited the groundbreaking book, What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color. Yang is a librettist for the The Song Poet Opera (commissioned by the MN Opera). Her children’s books, A Map Into the World, The Most Beautiful Thing, The Shared Room, Yang Warriors, From the Tops of the Trees, and The Rock in My Throat center around Hmong children who live in our world, who dream and hurt and hope in it. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA literary awards, the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Bookseller’s Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. Yang is a McKnight, a Soros, and a Guggenheim fellow.



In this moving true story, Kao Kalia Yang shares her experiences as a young Hmong refugee navigating life at home and at school. Having seen the poor treatment her parents received when making their best efforts at speaking English, she no longer speaks at school. Kalia feels as though a rock has become lodged in her throat, and it grows heavier each day. Although the narrative is somber, it is also infused with moments of beauty, love, and hope.


A poignant picture book about a young Hmong girl born and raised in a refugee camp who imagines what lies beyond the bounds of its borders. A young Hmong girl has never been outside the camp she lives in with her parents and thousands of other families. Most days, she spends her time playing with her cousins and pretending they can fly above the clouds and far away from here. When her family’s papers are finally approved, she’s uncertain if she’s ready to leave everything—and everyone—she’s ever known behind. But on the day she leaves, her favorite aunt, Golden Flower, sees her off with the words, Your wings have arrived.


Born in 1961 in war-torn Laos, Tswb’s childhood was marked by the violence of America’s Secret War and the CIA recruitment of the Hmong and other ethnic minorities into the lost cause. By the time Tswb was a teenager, the US had completely vacated Laos, and the country erupted into genocidal attacks on the Hmong people, who were labeled as traitors. Fearing for their lives, Tswb and her family left everything they knew behind and fled their village for the jungle. Perpetually on the run and on the brink of starvation, Tswb eventually crossed paths with the man who would become her future husband. Leaving her own mother behind, she joined his family at a refugee camp, a choice that would haunt her for the rest of her life. Eventually becoming a mother herself, Tswb raised her daughters in a state of constant fear and hunger until they were able to emigrate to the US, where the determined couple enrolled in high school even though they were both nearly thirty and worked grueling jobs to provide for their children. Now, her daughter, Kao Kalia Yang, reveals her mother’s astonishing saga with tenderness and clarity, giving voice to the countless resilient refugees who are often overlooked as one of the essential foundations of this country.