Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet TK McLennon, Author and Editor

TrailBlasian is a new anthology which shares the experiences of seventeen Black women who have taken the bold step to wave goodbye to their homes in North America and start new lives in East Asia. The anthology is available on Amazon and was edited by Canadian-born writer T.K. McLennon.

1. In your experience, what are some of the factors that motivate people from North America to move to Asian countries?

I would say that lack of jobs at home and financial reasons are probably the most common, but also wanderlust, appreciation for Asian culture, escapism, love/relationship, and career are among the most common reasons I've heard.

2. In addition to the teaching/education field, are there other major areas of employment that offer opportunities for English-speaking people moving to Asia?

Well, if you're American, there are several Army bases in Asia, particularly in South Korea. Of course there are expats who work for multinational for profit or not for profit organizations and also small or medium business people who do trade and whatnot.

3. Are there aspects of the expat experience that you feel are unique to Black women?

I would have to say concerns about how to maintain healthy hair and skin is a bit of a big deal. In the intro to the book, I discuss this a bit more, but also in Asia (as in other parts of the world) there is a thriving skin-bleaching industry. I found it nearly impossible in some countries to find lotions or other skincare products that did not contain some kind of whitening agent. Of course a bigger concern for many is racism/sexism, especially as it relates to your personal safety. Black women are often typecast in a few narrow stereotypes perpetuated through American media, and as expats in Asia there is a concern that we may be denied work or social opportunities due to race or sex prejudice.

4. Do you see the anthology as memoir or scholarship--or both?


5. Your book has been described as "groundbreaking." What has been the response from readers so far?

The readers have their favorites. People intensely agree or disagree with some of the writers' viewpoints. Readers can relate well with the story writers and appreciate the photos and bios that give the writers' journeys their unique context. Even people who have not read the book are intrigued by the the subject matter. It's early days since the official US launch though, and I expect there will be several ongoing panel-style and book-club-like discussions in the near future.

Thanks, TK!

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