This summer’s WOMAN WARRIOR is Susan Blumberg-Kason. As a child growing up in suburban Chicago, Susan Blumberg-Kason dreamed of the neon street signs and double-decker buses of Hong Kong. In her late teens, she left for a year abroad in Hong Kong and ended up spending most of her twenties there. She studied Mandarin and completed a master’s degree in political science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Blumberg-Kason authored Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair With China Gone Wrong (Sourcebooks, 2014), a dark memoir of her marriage to a musician from central China. She writes for the Los Angeles Review of Books’ China Blog, and her work has appeared in affiliate paper of the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent magazine, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. She has been interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, TimeOut Chicago, ABC News Chicago, and WTTW Chicago, the local public television channel.
1. Describe a craft challenge you have and how you confront this:
I’ve been told my writing is too expository, so I’ve enlisted the help of independent editors and friends to beta read my manuscripts. It’s been very helpful and I’ve learned several times over that it’s necessary to ask for writing input. Writing is not a solitary endeavor.
2. What do you hope that readers take away from your book?
Since I write about emotional abuse in my first marriage, I’ve spoken a lot about it in a cross-cultural context. My book shows how I struggled to figure out if the problems in my first marriage were due to culture or personality. In the end I conclude it was both and that it doesn’t matter. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. But more important, if it’s abusive, it’s wrong and there’s no way it will ever get better unless the other person undergoes extensive therapy.
3. What are your thoughts about publishing?
Publishing is a very difficult field to break into. I was told that I may never publish my memoir, but with lots of perseverance and help, I feel that I made it happen. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but also don’t be afraid of rejection. There is a ton of rejection in publishing and if you can’t let that go, it will be almost impossible to publish a book.
4. Finances: How might people improve the situation for women economically or politically?
I’ve gotten involved in a women’s group that raises money for local female candidates. I think the key is to get more women into decision-making positions, and that includes politics. Sometimes we aim for the highest positions when we donate to politicians, but politics at the local level matters, too. I ran for the local library board this year and just started a four-year term. Every bit helps.
5. Health: What aspect of health does your book address?
Going back to rape and other types of abuse, I can’t believe I’m having talks with other mothers in 2017 that it’s not the clothes their girls wear that’s a problem; it’s that boys and men don’t know it’s wrong to rape or sexually harass or be emotionally or physically abusive. I would love to change the dialogue and have some book ideas in mind for that!