Author Lisa See next to speak in Forum Speaker Series

March 25, 2010

The 2009-10 Penn State Forum Speaker Series continues on Monday, April 5 with a presentation by author Lisa See. Her talk, titled “The Secrets We Keep: Finding the Lost Voice of China, Women, and Our Families,” will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the President's Hall at the Penn Stater Conference Center.

See, author of the critically-acclaimed international bestseller "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," published in 2005, has always been intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up, whether in the past or happening right now in the world today. For "Snow Flower," she traveled to a remote area of China -- where she was told she was only the second foreigner ever to visit -- to research the secret writing invented, used, and kept a secret by women for over 1,000 years. Amy Tan called the novel “achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination.” Others agreed, and foreign-language rights for the book were sold to 36 countries. The novel also became a New York Times bestseller, a Booksense Number One Pick, and has won numerous awards domestically and internationally.

See’s new novel once again delves into forgotten history. "Peony in Love" takes place in 17th-century China in the Yangzi River delta. It’s based on the true story of three “lovesick maidens,” who were married to the same man – one right after the other, not one reaching age 20. Together they wrote the first book of its kind to have been written and published anywhere in the world by women. (The lovesick maidens were part of a much larger phenomenon. In the 17th century, there were more women writers in China who were being published than altogether in the rest of the world at that time.) Ultimately, "Peony in Love," about the bonds of female friendship; the power of words; the desire that all women have to be heard; and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.

She was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. Her first book, "On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family" (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa’s great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.

See recently designed a walking tour of Los Angeles Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s new Chinatown metro station. She also curated the inaugural exhibition – a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong – for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles.

She serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner on the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Authority. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in Fall 2003.

Co-sponsored by the Penn State Bookstore and the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the general public. Tickets for the Penn State Forum are $15. To purchase tickets for any or all of these events, contact the ID+ Office, located at 103 HUB-Robeson Building, University Park, call (814) 865-7590, or visit online for more information.

To suggest future Penn State Forum speakers, contact Gail Hurley, chair of the forum committee, at, or coordinator Carol Griffin at

The final speaker of the 2009-10 Forum Speaker Series will be Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, who will speak on Thursday, April 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the ballroom at the Nittany Lion Inn. For the complete list of this year's speakers and their bios, visit online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 05, 2010