Kao Kalia Yang is an author, public speaker, and teacher. She was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand and settled with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she was six years old. After graduating from Carleton College, she moved to New York to complete an M.F.A. at Columbia University. She moved back to the Twin Cities to launch her writing career and has been based there ever since.
Kalia has taught in K-12 schools in a variety of communities, as well as at many colleges and universities. She is presently the Edelstein-Keller Writer-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and will continue in that position through May 2022.
Kalia’s first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008), won the 2009 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Big Read title in 2015. Her second work, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father (Picador, 2016), won the 2017 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and was recognized by the Star Tribune, Boston Globe, and Pioneer Press as among the best books of 2016. In addition to her work in memoir, Kalia has edited two anthologies. She coedited What God Is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) with Shannon Gibney. And she is the primary editor of Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir (Metropolitan Books, 2020). Kalia is also the author of three children’s books, A Map into the World (2019), The Shared Room (2020), and The Most Beautiful Thing (2020).
For more information about her writing, teaching, and availability for public speaking engagements, visit her homepage: https://kaokaliayang.com/.