In celebration of Seattle Reads 2019, Jess Boyd spoke to Thi Bui about her award- winning graphic novel,The Best We Could Do(TBWCD), the 2019 Seattle Reads selection.
An Interview with Thi Bui
by Jess Boyd
Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do is a story that moved me, my family and my community. It gave voice to feelings and frustrations that I had yet to articulate and acted as a medium to bridge generations and countries.
The story is a multigenerational saga told through Bui’s past and present selves. Bui generously shares herself at different moments throughout her life, as a child, as a sibling, as a new mother, allowing us to see the far reaching ripples of war, and the way that those ripples can become waves that carry people across oceans.
Jess Boyd: Where was the birthplace of your creativity?
Thi Bui: I have to take a moment to allow myself to accept the compliment embedded in this question. “Ya not creative!” shouts my inner Viet.
Okay, it’s good now. I remember making things and daydreaming when I was a kid as a form of escape. Whether I was escaping my drab physical environment or tense emotional environment, I’m not sure … maybe both? It’s not like that anymore but that was how being creative started — first as an escape and then as a rebellion.
The Seattle Public Library has physical comics for children, teens, and adults available for checkout in all of our 27 locations, as well as through our mobile services. We also have comics available through our Hoopla Digital service. But did you know, amongst all of the mysteries, memoirs, and literary fiction e-books, that we also have approximately 1,700 “comic and graphic works” in our OverDrive collection?! This collection includes popular kids comics like the Narwhal and Jelly series, relatable webcomics such as “Sarah’s Scribbles,” award winners like Kindred… and even the 2019 Seattle Reads selection The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui!
In early 2017, acclaimed author Rick Riordan, of Percy Jackson fame, announced he would be leading an imprint from Disney, with the goal of publishing “great books by middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage.”
He had been constantly asked by fans of Percy Jackson or the Kane Chronicles, “Will you ever write about Hindu mythology? What about Native American? What about Chinese?” Riordan could have easily written books about those topics, but instead decided to use his privilege to lift up the voices of those he could have just as easily overshadowed. Rick Riordan Presents leverages his position and experience to help put a spotlight on writers “who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience.”
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah lives with her archaeologist mom at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in Atlanta. She hangs out in Spider-Man pjs, dreams of spending more time with her always-traveling mom, and really wants to impress her private school classmates. After lighting a supposedly cursed lamp in the museum, Aru frees an ancient demon whose job is to awaken the God of Destruction. People start freezing in place, and things don’t look great for Aru. Clearly in over her head, Aru must locate the other reincarnations of the legendary Pandava brothers, journey into the Kingdom of Death (& Costco), acquire some magical weapons, and eventually save the world! Continue reading “Rick Riordan Presents”