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Author of Asian-American novels (Glorious Boy) & nonfiction on eating disorders (Gaining), writing, wellness. Published @Hachette & Red Hen. More@

Healthy discoveries lie in imperfection and surprise

Self-portrait, 1973. Photo by author.

Long ago, when I used to paint, I found that my best work was blessed by accident. A line would wobble, I’d use the wrong color, I’d rub up against the canvas. The undercoat of gesso would go on rough, causing colors on top to catch and build in unexpected textures. I’d paint what I saw — the surface of an enamel sugar bowl — and discover myself in its reflection. Unhappiness, too, produced useful effects, and if not accidental, this certainly was unintended.

I was anorexic then, silently flailing against family and dependence and my own inert terror of…

Author of East-West novels and all sorts of nonfiction, ghostwriter, MFA advisor, former painter… and current photopainter!

Image by Carolyn Hall Young


If you love novels about Americans in Asia and Asians in America and the families that form between them, you may have read my fiction. In the 1990s I published two novels, Face and Cloud Mountain, based on my family’s mixed-race history and my examination of my own Chinese-American identity:

Then I shifted my focus to Americans in India, where my first memories were formed during the years my family lived in New Delhi, way back in the 1950s. My 2003 novel Flash House was inspired by my mother’s musing about the risks my father had run flying all over…


Excerpt from Aimee Liu’s novel Glorious Boy

“The most memorable and original novel I’ve read in ages.” — Pico Iyer

“For readers who are unafraid to be swept away” — STARRED review in Booklist

“Riveting… a fascinating, irresistible marvel.” — STARRED review, Library Journal

Photo by Aimee Liu

Glorious Boy is a tale of war and devotion set in India’s remote Andaman Islands before and during WWII. …

Building an invitation to fantasy and imagination

Photo by author

Once upon a time, the story begins… and instantly we are transported. Those four simple words cast a spell around the world, with translations in virtually every language promising a journey to a “time” that is also a place, like a magic carpet or hidden castle that we “once” might have come “upon” in another life.

Once upon a time is as effective as a sorcerer’s wand at compelling us to suspend disbelief and enter the realm of fairy tales. …

Sometimes the blahs are just nature’s way of telling us to give it a rest

Photo by Victoria Volkova on Unsplash

I ought to have been ecstatic to be free of the doubled-over agony that preceded my surgery. The operation had been a success, my gallbladder was out, and its massive infection had not killed me. I’d been free of physical pain now for a week and was just days away from my final check-in with my surgeon. My recovery, in other words, was well underway, but all I felt was…nothing.

Not happy, not sad. Not relieved, not inspired. I sat in my office and stared at the screen. Nothing. I picked up books, and put them down, too disinterested to…

Blazing past half a century on this planet

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Back when Elena Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court, NPR commentator Nina Totenberg announced without a trace of irony, “She’s young. She’s only 50!”

Of course, I knew what Totenberg meant. Kagan would be the youngest of the nine justices and potentially could shape the Court’s decisions for decades to come. Nevertheless, it was difficult to square this declaration of Kagan’s “youth” with the fact that membership in the American Association of Retired Persons begins at 50.

Is 50 young, or old? The answer, of course, is: Both.

Hot flashes and forest fires

When I turned 50, I was hot. My husband and I…

Testing the line between myth and reality in ‘The Story of Lucy Gault’

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

In Fools of Fortune, William Trevor’s protagonist Willie observes, ‘’We Irish were intrigued, my father used to say, by stories with a degree of unreality in them.’’ In The Story of Lucy Gault, Trevor put that intrigue to the ultimate literary test: Just how far can you push the reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief before the spell of fiction breaks?

This — Trevor’s 30th! — work more than demonstrates his mastery of intimate observation. Phrases like “stiff as card” or “freckles spreading on the backs of” old hands help to set a visual stage and evoke the period of 1920s…

Recovery is as much about reclaiming your true self and building healthy relationships as it is about restoring your body

Photo by Mike Palmowski on Unsplash

What happens to people with anorexia or bulimia who don’t get treatment — or who don’t get enough of the right treatment? This is a critical question, since only 10% of people with eating disorders are ever treated. But it’s also a tough question to answer, because data in this field is collected primarily from those who have been treated. The rest are left to recover on their own and often wind up instead in the half-life of eating disorders.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, doctors didn’t even recognize these illnesses. I was neither diagnosed…

Aimee Liu

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