Aquarius Press/Willow Books

The Four Words for Home by Angie Chuang

From Afghanistan and Taiwan, the stories of two immigrant families intersect in post-9/11 America

Angie Chuang takes on an assignment to “find the human face of the country we’re about to bomb” weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Her five-year journey into the lives of the Shirzai family transports her far beyond journalism. She travels to their homeland Afghanistan, and becomes intimately involved with the family’s story of loss and triumph over war.

As she is drawn ever deeper into the Shirzais’s lives, Chuang confronts unknown territory closer to her own home. Her own immigrant family from Taiwan is falling apart. Mental illness, divorce, and deeply rooted cultural taboos have shattered her own family’s American Dream.

Ultimately, she finds the two families are more similar than she had imagined. It is in journeying far away from her own home and family that she is drawn back to discover her own roots – and to confront the hard truths and broken places that lie at the heart of so many stories of migration and intergenerational struggle. 

“This serious and lovely experiment from Angie Chuang deserves your attention. If you are serious about reading news about kinship, the rigors of family, the by-blows of war, the way to making peace piecemeal (the only way for most of us), this is a book you need.”

Alan Cheuse, Fall Out of Heaven: An Autobiographical Journey and book commentator for National Public Radio

“A journalist’s search for the human face of a world at war becomes a compelling personal quest to find family in the hearts of strangers.”

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Hiroshima in the Morning 

Angie Chuang is a writer and educator based in Denver. Her work has appeared in Creative NonfictionThe Asian American Literary Review, and multiple editions of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. She has received fellowships and residencies from Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale, Jentel, and others. She is on the Journalism faculty of University of Colorado Boulder.