Virtual: Heroines, History, and Hope: Jennifer Rosner, Alka Joshi and Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Please join Porter Square Books virtually for an event with debut authors Jennifer Rosner (The Yellow Bird Sings), Alka Joshi (The Henna Artist) and Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (The Mountains Sing) for a panel discussion on their path towards writing their debut works, the research process, and common themes in these three works of heroine-led historical fiction! This event is free and open to all, and is hosted on Crowdcast.







Register to join the event on Crowdcast here:

"An absolutely beautiful and necessary novel" (New York Times) for fans of Room and We Were the Lucky Ones, about a mother and daughter in hiding as World War II rages. Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope—a whispered story, a bird’s song—in even the darkest of times.

The Yellow Bird Sings is Jennifer's debut novel. It is being translated into more than a dozen languages and published around the world. Jennifer's previously published books include the memoir, If A Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard, and the picture book, The Mitten String. Her short essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Massachusetts Review, The Forward, and elsewhere. In addition to writing, Jennifer teaches philosophy. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. Currently, she teaches the Clemente Course in the Humanities, a college-level course for women living in economic distress. She lives in western Massachusetts with her family. Learn more at

For fans of Balli Kaur Jaswal's Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and Thrity Umrigar's The Space Between Us, Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a lushly-rendered, emotional novel set in post-Raj 1950s Jaipur about a young woman struggling to shape her own destiny in a world pivoting between the traditional and the modern. Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Alka has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She graduated from Stanford University and worked in the fields of advertising and PR before starting her own marketing consultancy. In 2011, she obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. The Henna Artist is her first novel. Alka shares her writing and publishing process on her YouTube channel: more at

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the BanyanThe Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Born into the Việt Nam War in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up witnessing the war’s devastation and its aftermath. She worked as a street seller and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than ten countries, most recently in Norton’s Inheriting the War anthology. She has been honored with the Hà Nội Writers Association’s Poetry of the Year 2010 Award, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, and First Prize - the Poetry Competition About 1,000 Years Hà Nội, among others. Quế Mai has an MA in Creative Writing and is currently a PhD candidate at Lancaster University. She divides her time between Indonesia and Việt Nam. For more information, visit her at

Event date: 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140
The Mountains Sing By Que Mai Phan Nguyen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616208189
Availability: Available to Order from Supplier: Arrives at Store in a Week(ish)
Published: Algonquin Books - March 17th, 2020

The Yellow Bird Sings: A Novel By Jennifer Rosner Cover Image
It's Complicated--Contact Us for More Information
ISBN: 9781250179760
Published: Flatiron Books - March 3rd, 2020

The Henna Artist By Alka Joshi Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778309451
Availability: Available to Order from Supplier: Arrives at Store in a Week(ish)
Published: Mira Books - March 3rd, 2020