On Being Hmong in the United States: A Memoir of Refuge, Migration, Loss, and Hope

Kao Kalia Lang’s moving memoir narrates the history of Hmong ethnic cleansing, life in refuge, and the struggles of life in exile, through the story of her own family.

We wandered around, you and I. We walked in big American cities with loud cars and bright lights. Our spirits walked in lonely circles. How would we ever get back to the hills of Laos, the land of the ancestors?

Kao Kalia Yang, The Late Homecomer

Yang’s memoir covers several politically turbulent events in Southeast Asia. The book begins in the aftermath of the Vietnam War war, when North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao soldiers initiate a genocide against the Hmong people for their involvement with the American military. Yang documents her family’s experiences at several Thai refugee camps in the 1980s, before they emigrated to the United States during a large wave of Hmong immigration. Along the way, she muses on the inhumanity of refuge, the grief of cultural erasure, the power of family, and the struggles of immigrant life.