“[I] don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’ve got to brush my Asian teeth.'” An interview with me over at Bloom

“I was introduced to Leland Cheuk’s writing when I heard him read from his essay, “A Grandfather’s Guide to the Resistance” at Sarah Lawrence College’s Wrexham Road Reading Series. The piece, which had appeared in SalonZine, offered some telling parallels between Cheuk’s grandfather’s experiences in Mao’s China and contemporary American politics. Here was writing that was straddling the personal and the political; raising questions and suggesting potential paths forward. The rest of Cheuk’s work lived up to this promise. His first novel The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, (2015, CCLaP Publishing) is about a dysfunctional and morally dubious family that truly stretches the immigrant-novel box. The short stories in Letters from Dinosaurs (2016, Thought Catalog Books) offer insights into imperfect human beings in complicated relationships. In his fictional work and his essays, here’s a writer zeroed in on keeping it real.

Cheuk is also founding publisher and editor of a micropress, 7.13 Books, which focuses exclusively on debut literary fiction.

It seemed fitting that when I approached Leland Cheuk about interviewing him for Bloom, he said, “I’ll pretty much answer any question as honestly as possible.” His literary philosophy reflects this openness to all questions and a willingness to tackle the difficult answers.

Leland Cheuk’s responses in this email Q&A offer us valuable insights into the reality of being a writer, a published contemporary writer. In covering topics from the personal to the political, we get a glimpse into the thoughtful and fully engaged artist methodically pushing boundaries.

Shoba Viswanathan: I heard you first when you read at the Democracy and Education panel at Sarah Lawrence. Given that context, I’d like to start off with asking what you see as the role of the artist and writer in the times we live. There is so much to care about, rage against, that sometimes preoccupation with a turn of phrase or character motivation can seem trivial.”

Read the rest of the interview here.



“Much like a floating signifier in semiotics, the true soul of Leland Cheuk’s The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong is always shifting and impossible to pin down. The narrative is an emotionally gritty look at familial relationships that are anchored in chaos and deceit as well as an exploration of Otherness in the context of a Chinese/Chinese-American family that has already spent several generations in the United States. However, the novel is also a hilarious tale about a man whose cowardice and overpowering father force him into something that will change his life forever. Last but not least, the novel deals with a plethora of themes like loyalty, prostitution, loneliness, friendship, and politics. The result is a deep, entertaining tragicomedy that touches on various generations and proves that, regardless of what migration can do for a family, the worst thing that can happen to it is a lack of love, support, honesty, and understanding.”

Read the rest of the review by Gabino Iglesias here. 

My Catapult essay “Let Me Pass Away”: When Your Mother Blames You For Your Cancer Diagnosis

“My mother assumed I must have done something to bring a rare blood cancer upon myself.”

“Let me pass away, nobody bother you, my mother texted after yet another of our phone arguments.

She blamed me for my cancer.

She also blamed the ghosts of the victims of 9/11. She blamed the fact that I’d worked in Lower Manhattan for two years, inhaling all those thirteen-year-old fumes from the fallen Twin Towers. She blamed my urban “lifestyle” of eating out at restaurants. She blamed my daring to leave the Bay Area suburbs where I grew up. She blamed my wife’s preference for turning up the heat in the winter. Buoyed by the infallible teachings of her favorite TV medical practitioner, Dr. Oz, she blamed my diet. She assumed I must have done something to bring a rare blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome, upon myself.”

Read the rest at Catapult

“Make American Loitering Great Again #magla” My interview with FLAPPERHOUSE is up.

“Leland Cheuk is a big part of the Flapperhouse family: he has performed at three of our readings, and contributed three excellent flash fictions to our Summer 2017 issue (including “Vote For Arnie,” which we posted last week). He has also contributed work to fine publications like Salon, Catapult, Kenyon Review, and Prairie Schooner, and has written wonderful books like LETTERS FROM DINOSAURS and THE MISADVENTURES OF SULLIVER PONG. Leland recently exchanged emails with our managing editor Joseph P. O’Brien about his writing, as well as generation gaps, the universal appeal of Haruki Murakami, and the potential economic necessity of polyamory.”

Read the rest here.

My flash fiction “Vote for Arnie” up at FLAPPERHOUSE

“HI, I’M ARNIE CHANK, FOUR-TERM SENATOR of our great state of M—. This presidential primary season has been marred by the usual cynicism and incessant criticism of our federal government and its waning ability to solve the problems of the American people. There’s gridlock in Washington. Partisan rancor is at levels we’ve never seen. I get it. You get it. Hell, the UFOs get it. And I admit that, on many of the average of ninety-four days per year I’ve actually shown up to work to represent the great people of The Urchin State, I’ve been part of the problem, not the solution.

But today, I’d like to send a message to the American voter. Hear me now for words will neither be minced nor julienned.

I have come to help you take our country back…in time.”

Read the rest at FLAPPERHOUSE