When Relatives Die They Become Ancestors

Kao Kalia Yang

is a Hmong-American teacher, public speaker, and writer. She is the author of the award-winning book The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir and The Song Poet, nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2017. She is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Kao Kalia lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family.

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August 14th, 2017

A reflection acknowledging that the injustice of suffering can’t be wrapped up in a neat bow of closure. Instead, we the author looks to her culture’s understanding of ancestry — in the responsibility we have to the loved ones we’ve lost.

Hands reaching into the abyss. Photo by Cristian Newman.
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July 28th, 2017

A tender, empathetic, and honest letter to an unknown friend about the anguish of grief — through a story of young love, the loss of a child, and the realization that pain marks an opening to a future where new life can take root.

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June 14th, 2017

Our stories hold power no matter the circumstances of our lives. A Hmong-American woman looks on her father’s modest life, and her own — through refugee camps in Thailand to their new life in the American Midwest — and reveals lessons from the powerless on our inherent dignity, even through our most vulnerable times.