I've spent the last six years working on a nonfiction graphic novel titled Feeding Ghosts, forthcoming from MCDxFSG in 2023. For the backstory, read the description posted below the images. You can read a South China Morning Post article about the project HERE, and follow the project's Instagram hashtag HERE (though I'm pretty much entirely off social media these days in order to finish drawing this book).
I am on a quest to bring peace to my family’s ghosts. My grandmother Sun Yi was a journalist in Shanghai and in 1949, the year of the Communist takeover, she had an affair with a Swiss diplomat and ended up a single mother raising a mixed-race bastard child while being persecuted by the Communist government. Just before The Great Leap Forward, Sun Yi smuggled herself and my then-seven-year-old mother out of the country beneath the false bottom of a fishing boat and they fled to Hong Kong, where my grandmother wrote a bestselling memoir titled Eight Years in Red Shanghai: Love, Starvation, Persecution. Sun Yi used the money from her book to place my mother in an elite Hong Kong boarding school, which is where she learned English. Sun Yi then tragically had a mental breakdown and was institutionalized: she never truly recovered.
My mother, who never met her father, was essentially raised as an orphan by her boarding school, and when she immigrated to the US on a college scholarship she brought Sun Yi with her. I grew up with my grandma in my family home, but between her mental state and the fact that my mom didn’t teach me Chinese, I was never able to know her as a person, only as the broken ghost of a culture I did not understand.
I ran away from my family’s darkness at the first moment I could but am returning as a prodigal daughter through telling this story. While Feeding Ghosts explores loss of culture, mixed race identity, mental illness, loss of language, immigration, and generational inheritance of trauma, it is ultimately about the ways in which mothers and daughters both damage and save each other.