What happens when an author takes a genre that's considered a bedrock of American culture and flips the wagon upside down? As Tom Lin puts it, “I’m not following the rules of the American Western.” The author of the debut novel The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, Tom subverts the “old, old notions of what makes an American” and redefines the classic genre by telling his story through the eyes of a Chinese American gunslinger assassin in the 1860s. Tom discusses with Eve and Julie how the American Western evolved into mythology, not only glorifying the westward expansion of the American people but also justifying the violence, colonialism, and genocide used to achieve it. He also shares why, almost 150 years later, Americans continue to return to the Western and the potential connection the genre has to the “consciousness of ourselves.”
Tom Lin is an author based in Davis, California, where he is currently a PhD student in English at the University of California, Davis. The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu has been shortlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Finalist for the 2022 Carnegie Medal for Excellence
A book out of bounds.... Saves the western by blowing it to bits. Don’t wait for the movie.―Marlon James, Wall Street Journal