Livonia Chow Mein (working title), Abby’s novel-in-progress, tells the story of a Chinese American restaurant-owning family in Brownsville, Brooklyn over the course of four generations and as the neighborhood is transformed by modernist planning, white flight, ghettoization and gentrification. There’s Chin Koon Lai, the diligent restaurant owner who aspires to lift his village into modernity but who finds his ambitions frustrated by China’s political turmoil and Brownsville’s evolution. There’s also his son Richard, who hankers for a car and a white picket fence but whose struggles cause him to scapegoat his Black and Puerto Rican neighbors. Next, there’s Richard’s son Jason, who, in an effort to flout all societal expectations, throws himself into the bohemian counterculture of the 1970s. And finally, there’s Jason’s half-white daughter Sadie, who desires to be perceived as a “person of color” but must confront the ways both she and her ancestors have perpetuated anti-Blackness and played a role in the borough’s gentrification.

Growing up alongside the Chins are the Rodriguez and Scott families, including the activist and artist Letitia Rodriguez Armstrong, whose lifelong fight for community control first challenges and then transforms the Chins. Interweaving the present with the past, and blending magical realism with historic fact, the novel contemplates how the American pursuit of freedom has relied on a collective amnesia—and asks what it would take for us to truly share the land.

Please stay tuned for updates.