The Latehomecomer

A memoir by Kao Kalia Yang

January 1, 2017 • 6 x 9 • 312 pages • 978-1-56689-478-4

One Hmong family’s harrowing escape from war in Laos to the uncertainty of a new home as refugees in Minnesota.

Featuring a new reader’s guide

Yang’s award-winning memoir of her family’s harrowing escape from war in Laos is a love letter to her grandmother, a troubling portrait of the consequences of us intervention in Southeast Asia, and a glimpse into the little-seen exodus of the Hmong people, first to refugee camps in Thailand and then, for many, to new homes in Minnesota.

About the Author

Kao Kalia Yang is a teacher, public speaker, and writer. Yang is the author of the award-winning book The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and the book The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016). She is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Yang lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her family.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


Minnesota Book Award winner & Readers Choice Award recipient
Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award winner
An NEA Big Read selection
Midwest Booksellers Association Midwest Connections pick

“This is the best account of the Hmong experience I’ve ever read—powerful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable.” —Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Packed with the stuff of life.” Entertainment Weekly

“Yang tells her family’s story with grace; she narrates their struggles, beautifully weaving in Hmong folklore and culture.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Inspiring. . . . Yang has performed an important service in bringing readers the stories of a people whose history has beenshamefully neglected.” Kirkus

“A natural storyteller. Yang chronicles her family’s journey and draws the reader into the Hmong culture.” Library Journal, starred review

“A tale as poetic as it is informative.” City Pages

“[The Latehomecomer] is the love story of [Yang’s] parents, a gripping tale of adventure and escape, a history lesson of the Hmong people dating to their years in China, a tribute to Yang’s beloved grandmother and a window into Hmong funeral customs. . . . Thanks to Yang, the grandmother will not be forgotten. And neither will this book.” Star Tribune

“[Yang] tells her family’s story with outstanding beauty and lyricism.” St. Paul Pioneer Press

“A remarkable achievement for a young woman who, as an immigrant child, struggled painfully with the English language. But it’s also a fitting milestone for a would-be reformer who believes that words can help to make a better world.” Christian Science Monitor

“Determined to tell the story of both her family and her people, Yang intimately chronicles the immigrant experience from the Hmong perspective, providing a long-overdue contribution to the history and literature of ethnic America.” Booklist

“This memoir is the first of its kind to correctly chronicle the lives of [the] Hmong.” International Examiner

“An ode to the thousands of Hmong families in our metro. . . . This is among the most important Minnesota books.” Metro Magazine

“Intimate. . . . [The Latehomecomer] is a picture of one family’s struggle, but it is also a chronicle of Yang’s own search for identity.” Rochester Post-Bulletin

“There have been many historical accounts and collections of oral histories of the Hmong people . . . but few if any accounts have combined the historical detail, storytelling skills, and tremendous emotional impact of Yang’s new memoir.” MultiCultural Review

“Yang invites us inside the Hmong diaspora in a way few other writers have dared. . . . More than a memoir, more than a history, The Latehomecomer is a persuasive argument for the power of love.” Minneapolis Observer Quarterly

“Splendorous. . . . Yang goes where few history books dare to . . . and (like Maxine Hong Kingston before her) she forces the reader to question memory, power, and authority in America.” Feminist Review

“Yang’s love and devotion to her family and the Hmong people shines on every page. . . . A necessary read about the human experience.” Hmong Times

“Stunning. . . . brings the Hmong American experience . . . into mainstream literature.” Minnesota Women’s Press

“Yang’s memoir helps acknowledge that home is wherever family is, no matter how life is lived. This book does not only carry Yang’s journey, but the journey of every Hmong.” Hmoob Teen

“[Yang’s] spare, careful prose belies the lush bounty of emotionality that runs through her account and which immediately connects the reader to her story.” —mnartists.org

“All who read this book are richer for having recieved the gift of what [Yang] has written.” Asia by the Book

“A moving story . . . a testimony to survival.” Multidiversity: Myers

The Latehomecomer is a wonderful journey into the very personal experiences of its author, and it is also a story about so many of us. Reading this book is about experiencing the Hmong American transformation.” —Mee Moua, MN State Senator

“Across jungles, refugee camps, and oceans, The Latehomecomer is a journey to the center of everything: one’s fast-held understanding of home.” —Cris Beam

“In telling the story of her Hmong family’s flight from genocide in the jungles of Laos and poverty in the refugee camps of Thailand to achieve a safe life in America, Yang has fashioned a bittersweet and engrossing epic that is mythic in its beauty, tenderness, and power.” —Honor Moore

“An impressive debut by a writer with an enchanting voice, The Latehomecomer reveals all that is worth knowing about endurance, the power of a family’s love, and hope in the face of desperation.” —Patricia O’Toole