Rachel Khong with Meng Jin / Real Americans

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

From $0.00

Wed, May 1st, 2024 @ 7:00PM PDT

Booksmith is thrilled to host Goodbye, Vitamin author Rachel Khong for her highly anticipated second novel, Real Americans, which spans three generations in one family and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures? Rachel will be in conversation with Meng Jin, author of Self-Portrait with Ghost and Little Gods. Join us!


About the book

Real Americans begins on the precipice of Y2K in New York City, when twenty-two-year-old Lily Chen, an unpaid intern at a slick media company, meets Matthew. Matthew is everything Lily is not: easygoing and effortlessly attractive, a native East Coaster, and, most notably, heir to a vast pharmaceutical empire. Lily couldn’t be more different: flat-broke, raised in Tampa, the only child of scientists who fled Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Despite all this, Lily and Matthew fall in love. 

In 2021, fifteen-year-old Nick Chen has never felt like he belonged on the isolated Washington island where he lives with his single mother, Lily. He can’t shake the sense she’s hiding something. When Nick sets out to find his biological father, the journey threatens to raise more questions than it provides answers. 

In immersive, moving prose, Rachel Khong weaves a profound tale of class and striving, race and visibility, and family and inheritance—a story of trust, forgiveness, and finally coming home. 

Exuberant and explosive, Real Americans is a social novel par excellence that asks: Are we destined, or made? And if we are made, who gets to do the making? Can our genetic past be overcome?


Advance praise for Real Americans

“If you liked Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, read Real Americans by Rachel Khong…[Rachel Khong] returns, painting on a larger canvas, in this story about three generations of a Chinese American family…Different voices follow, in a multilayered look at family and identity.” – The Washington Post

“[Real Americans is a] plot-rich, spiraling, multigenerational epic [that] possesses the same heartrending humanity and deceptively subtle portrayal of characters’ unseen depths [as Rachel Khong’s debut]—so impossible to relate, so essential to everything. As in life, the love is in the details.” – Annie BostromBooklist

“By encompassing a family as a whole, [Real Americans] asks big questions about our lineage and futures, how much is really up to us, whether the fact of our pasts guarantee our fate, or whether we have agency over the lives we live.” – ”Most Anticipated Books of 2024,” Literary Hub

“Khong masterfully explores a family splintered by science, struggling to redefine their own lives after uncovering harrowing secrets. Real Americans is a mesmerizing multigenerational novel about privilege, identity and the illusions of the American dream.” – Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half

Real Americans is a grand novel that explores the American psyche, dramatizing the fundamental American belief in the ability to change the world and improve humanity. Rachel Khong shows infinite and colorful perceptions of the world, which are often leavened with wisdom. Besides being a page turner, this book is also an eye-opener, imaginative and exhilarating.” – Ha Jin, author of Waiting

Real Americans traverses time with verve and feeling. Khong captures how people can be strange to themselves, how bewilderment can be a site of creation (or change, or becoming).” – Raven Leilani, author of Luster

“Gorgeous, heartfelt, soaring, philosophical and deft, Real Americans flips the multigenerational novel inside out. Fate, honesty, our bargains with life. You will keep turning it over and over in your mind.” – Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less Is Lost

“Aglow with love in its many forms, suffused with questions of where—and to whom—we belong, Real Americans is a book of rare charm. Khong untangles the roots of family with a wry, tender attention that will leave readers as comforted as they are challenged.” – C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold and Land of Milk and Honey

“Rachel Khong’s gripping second novel explores how biology, our parents’ abstract hopes for us, sheer luck, and the forces of history itself make us who we are. Real Americans is both a tender story of the intimate relationships between people and a sharp examination of very big questions of ethics, politics, and fate.” – Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind


About the authors

Rachel Khong is the author of Goodbye, Vitamin, winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction, and named a Best Book of the Year by NPR; O, The Oprah Magazine; Vogue; and Esquire. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Cut, The Guardian, The Paris Review, and Tin House. In 2018, she founded The Ruby, a work and event space for women and nonbinary writers and artists in San Francisco’s Mission District. She lives in California. Photo by Andria Lo.

Meng Jin is the author of the novel Little Gods and the short story collection, Self-Portrait With Ghost. She lives in San Francisco and is writing a fake memoir.


Please note:

  • Masks will not be required for this event, but we are limiting capacity somewhat. For that reason, we can't guarantee we'll have space for walk-ins. The best way to ensure you’ll get a seat is to order the Book + Seat ticket; you can also RSVP for a free seat right here while they last.
  • We are happy to offer *signed copies* of Real Americans: order a Book + Seat ticket bundle if you'd like to pick up a signed copy at the event, or order here if you just want a signed copy and no admission.
  • You can order Rachel's other books here, and books by Meng Jin here.
  • Safety protocols are subject to change. If we feel it is not safe to gather, as the event gets closer, we will pivot to a virtual event and your registration will remain valid.
  • Questions? Accessibility requests? Write [email protected].


Policies

Refund Policy:

No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.

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Directions
The Booksmith
1727 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
415-863-8688