Thursday, August 20, 2015

Deanna Fei

Deanna Fei is the author of the award-winning novel A Thread of Sky. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Fei has received a Fulbright Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Huffington Post, and other publications.

Fei's new memoir is Girl in Glass: How My "Distressed Baby" Defied the Odds, Shamed a CEO, and Taught Me the Essence of Love, Heartbreak, and Miracles.

From her Q & A with Wesley Yiin at Salon:

You discussed earlier that the book helps you tell the origin story for your daughter. But there are parts of the book that expose some very dark and honest emotions that surround the birth of your daughter. I’m sure there will be a time when your daughter will want to read the book, and some of those passages may not be pleasant to read. How do you hope to frame the story to her? Do you see any challenges in talking to her about the book, and if so, how will you overcome them?

There were many, many moments in the writing — especially when I had to leave her with my husband or a babysitter to go and write the book — that I did feel like I was betraying the deepest darkest secrets between her and me in order to capture the reality that we live through. For me, there was no point in telling her story unless I was going to tell the full truth. I think there are so many platitudes surrounding the talk about premature babies or the way we like to simplify the messy process of bringing new life into the world, in terms of these charts and checklists and images of the perfect baby. For me, what was most beautiful and important about her story was the fact that her journey, in some ways, defied every cliché that you could possibly ascribe to it. But it also confirmed, in some ways, everything that we might want from a feel-good, inspirational story.

I think that ultimately, this question of “How much is a human life ultimately worth?” is a terrifying way to assess someone’s existence. But because of how she was born, that was the question hanging over her from the start. I think that, ultimately, she will understand that every challenge that she faced was part of her journey. I’m the kind of person that hates the word “miracle.” The last thing that I expected was for her story to be this kind of a happy ending, and yet I can’t take that away from her. She earned that label, and I have to give it to her. Right now, she’s two and a half, and she’s just proud of herself for everything that she does on any given day. She’s so proud when she throws a terrible tantrum. She’s proud for stealing a toy or cookie from her big brother. When she saw the cover of the book for the first time, she said, “Hey, that’s me!” She was thrilled! I want her to know everything she overcame to be who she is today.

At the same time, I want to recognize, yes, in many ways, she’s a...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Deanna Fei's website.

The Page 99 Test: Girl in Glass.

--Marshal Zeringue