Living Treasures Won the Living Now Book Awards Bronze Medal

At first glance, Living Now Book Awards has a formidable goal:

We’ve all heard the expressions, “This book changed my life!” and “Changing the world, one book at a time.” The Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor those kinds of life-changing books.

Yet the goal is relevant and even fundamental:

We all seek healthier, more fulfilling lives for ourselves and for the planet. . . . The purpose of the Living Now Book Awards is to celebrate the innovation and creativity of books that enhance the quality of life.

I submitted my novel Living Treasures to the Inspirational Fiction category. Can fiction be inspirational and remain honest? I want to believe so. I work as a computer engineer at UC Berkeley. When I help people on a daily basis, I know that a person can make a difference in the society.

As a writer I have a rather optimistic worldview. I like to tackle big social problems in my fiction, put my characters under the test, let them endure, and in their darkest and most despairing hours, let them use their ingenuity—much like an engineer—and find some sort of relief or solution, not a cure-all, but a way out, so that they can move forward to rebuild their lives. 

Many social problems don’t have solutions. That doesn’t mean we need to remain stagnant. The perilous quest for a fulfilling life is in itself a profound spiritual journey. Accompanied by good books, we don’t travel alone on our personal journeys. “Good books are a weapon against ignorance,” Jim Barnes said.


I entered the contest with deep appreciation for which the award stands. I am grateful to have won the bronze medal along with many outstanding books.

May we remember the reason why we write, whom we write for, and strive to change the world, one book at a time.

Book Trailer: Censored, with Jane Shlensky's Erasure

My book trailer for Living Treasures tells a striking story. But it is censored on all the social media sites in mainland China: Youku, Tudou, and Sina. It is an officially banned book trailer. Have a look, you may see why the gentle story raises fears on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre. 

Several readers shared with me their poems about the Tiananmen Square massacre. Here is an eloquent protest by a wonderful poet Jane Shlensky. She was a teacher in China during the student movement. 

Tian’an’men 1989

the Square is
a Great Wall
a ship breaking waves
victims’ bodies in drawers
mourned as martyrs
the Goddess
beacon of hope toppled
as Mao at the Gate

a moth heaved dusty wings
to bang against light

loud music
flame’s yellow glare
wings secured
with wooden clips
outcries replaced with
silence, memory shifting
into surrender
the wound sprouting
new leaves

(erasure of Living Treasures by Yang Huang)

Her poem brings back a tide of emotions: crushed hope, despair, and isolation after losing a historical opportunity 26 years ago.  

My novel Living Treasures didn’t criticize the Chinese government. Instead I took a more radical political stand by disregarding the impact of their brutal suppression. We can and should move on from the tragedy, by not giving up, by not giving in, by becoming free despite the government’s suppression and censorship. There is a new life after death, for Bao personally, and for grassroots activists who believe in the future.

In the old days, a daring rebellious convict said on his way to the scaffold for decapitation: "I will be a brave man again in 18 years!" He meant: I am a heroic outlaw right now, and I will be a heroic outlaw again in 18 years after my reincarnation. So 26 years later, the heroes and victims fallen on June 4, 1989 have risen again and joined us to walk toward a better future.