WRITING & PUBLISHING

NOT YOUR CHINA DOLL

A conversation about Anna May Wong and the history of Asians in Hollywood

Aimee Liu
9 min readAug 3, 2023

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One of the delights of writing for Medium and Substack is the opportunity to meet fellow writers who are on your wavelength. That’s how I got to know Katie Gee Salisbury: we’re both biracial writers of Asian descent, and we both write about Asian-American history.

Katie, based in Brooklyn, is the author of the forthcoming biography of Anna May Wong, and of Half-Caste Woman, her newsletter on Substack.

We’ve had so much fun getting to know each other that we thought you might like to listen in on some of our chats. In this first installment, we’re focusing on Katie’s writing journey, from initial fascination to publication of her first book, but the story of American racism, Asians in Hollywood, and Anna May Wong is also integral to this journey.

If you enjoy this conversation, please be sure to join us virtually on Saturday, August 12 at 12PT/3ET, when we continue our discussion as part of Medium Day. Look for us on the schedule under HERITAGE AS HOOK: HOW TWO ASIAN AMERICAN WRITERS EXPLORE HISTORY ON MEDIUM. We’ll be talking about carving out a niche around cultural heritage to hook readers interested in family history and AAPI issues. Register HERE.

Aimee: So Katie, you’ve got a beautiful new book coming out, and what a great title! Not Your China Doll is so right for a biography about Anna May Wong, especially today, as Asian-Americans are finally pushing back en masse against the “model minority” stereotyping of Asians. How did you get started on this project?

Katie: The idea for Not Your China Doll really started when I first discovered who Anna May Wong was during a college internship at the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles. Being a fifth-generation Chinese American myself, whose family largely got its start in this country in L.A.’s Chinatown, I was startled that I had never heard of her before. A…

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Aimee Liu

Author, Asian-American novels (Glorious Boy), nonfiction on eating disorders (Gaining), writing, wellness. Published @Hachette. MFA & more@ aimeeliu.net