Author headshot via Tommy Kha
From the time she was a young child, Ava Chin heard stories about her family’s roots in the United States. Some of the most vivid stories centered her family’s involvement in the building of the transcontinental railroad, in the 1800s. But when she saw pictures of the railroad’s construction back in grade school, she says, not a single Chinese face was staring back at her.
That was one of the moments that shaped her decision to become a writer – when she realized that there were huge chunks of American history simply not being told.
Mott Street is, in part, a corrective to that. Through decades of painstaking research, the fifth-generation New Yorker discovered the stories of how her ancestors bore and resisted the weight of the Chinese Exclusion laws in the U.S. – and how the legacy of that history still affects her family today.