Karin Evans is the author of The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past, which was re-released in a revised and updated edition by Penguin Putnam in 2008. It chronicles their experience as she and her husband adopt two little girls from China, and it explores the backdrop of events that led to the international adoption of more than 100,000 orphaned girls from that country.
Her The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete known as The Iron Nun (Simon & Schuster, 2010), is about Sister Madonna Buder, now 82. This year Buder completed the Canadian Ironman, becoming the first 82-year-old ever to do so, and went on to the Kona, Hawaii, Ironman as well. That Ironman event involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles of cycling, and a full 26-mile marathon.Whew.
We’re All Walking Home in the Dark is Karin’s historical novel, based on the intermingled lives of a Tang Dynasty female poet in China and a 21st-century burned out journalist in San Francisco. She’s hoping to submit it to agents and publishers soon. She’s also working on a chapbook of poetry, Not Quite Home, but says, “who knows when that might see the light of day!”
When one pile of books beside my bed recently toppled over (without the help of the Hayward Fault, which is a scant half-mile away from our house), a book I had been looking for, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, skittered into view. Just in time! I plucked it from the fallen pile and moved it closer to my other, more current, stack of books that I am actually reading.
I really must re-read it, though a half-dozen other books are ahead of it in the queue, including my favorite book this year, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, by Victoria Sweet, M.D. Sweet intermingles the story of Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco’s hospital of last resort for the poor and forgotten, with the twelfth-century wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen, and an account of Sweet’s own pilgrimage along the Santiago de Compostela. Sweet has a rare and lovely ability to see her patients as whole, intricate beings and to treat them with exceptional care and respect. Her deep reflections on the practice of medicine, both ancient and modern, make more sense than anything else I can remember reading on the subject. The book is intensely human and contains such a collection of lovingly told stories of the residents and staff of Laguna Honda, that I am re-reading it.
Also by my bed is Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French. I have been working for awhile on some fiction set in China and am always on the lookout for good historical writing; this mystery is certainly that. French, an historian and old China Hand, has reconstructed the world of 1937 Peking in a thoroughly riveting way. His book manages to be both atmospheric and informative.
Underneath Midnight in Peking is a book of poetry that I have been dipping into. Franz Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. I have to love a poet who once said that he had such low self-esteem that it took a Pulitzer to just bring him up to neutral. One of my favorite segments from this collection of poetry:
“How does one go
Who on earth
is going to teach me–
is filled with people
who have never died.”
Any volumes threatening to topple the stack by your bed?