The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

About the Book

In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America In the 1970s, as the Hmong were being massacred for their collaboration with the United States during the Vietnam War. Yang recounts the harrowing story of her family’s captivity, the daring rescue undertaken by her father and uncles, and their narrow escape into Thailand where Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp.When she was six years old, Yang’s family immigrated to America, and she evocatively captures the challenges of adapting to a new place and a new language. Through her words, the dreams, wisdom, and traditions passed down from her grandmother and shared by an entire community have finally found a voice.


Why we recommend it: The Hmong experience has largely been told by outsiders–Hmong written language was developed in the 1950s by missionaries and Hmong advisors with their own stories to tell. Kao Kalia Yang’s firsthand account of what her family went through is critical to understanding how the Secret War has rippled down to impact multiple generations.

About the Author

Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. Yang is also the author of the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, and Yang Warriors. She co-edited the ground-breaking collection What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA literary awards, the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Bookseller’s Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. Kao Kalia Yang lives in Minnesota with her family, and teaches and speaks across the nation.