in conversation with Ben Fong-Torres
When We Fell Apart
Corte Madera Store
Sat., April 22, 2023 • 6:00pm PT
A profoundly moving and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties that bind families together — or break them apart — as a young Korean American man’s search for answers about his girlfriend’s mysterious death becomes a soul-searching journey into his own bi-cultural identity
When the Seoul police inform Min that his girlfriend Yu-jin has committed suicide, he’s sure it can't be true. She was successful, ambitious, happy, just on the cusp of graduating from university and claiming the future she’d always dreamed of.
Min, on the other hand, born to an American father and Korean mother, has never felt quite the same certainty as Yu-jin about his life’s path. After growing up in California, where he always felt “too Korean” to fit in, he’s moved to Seoul in the hope that exploring his Korean heritage will help him find a sense of purpose. And when he meets Yu-jin, little does he know that their carefree relationship will set off a chain of events with tragic consequences for them both.
Devastated by Yu-jin’s death, Min throws himself into finding out why she could have secretly wanted to die. Or did she? With a controlling and powerful government official father, and a fraught friendship with her alluring and destructive roommate So-ra, Yu-jin’s life was much more complex than she chose to reveal to Min. And the more he learns about her, the more he begins to doubt he ever really knew her at all.
As Yu-jin’s story — a fraught exploration of selfhood, coming-of-age, and family expectations — collides with Min’s, the result is an engrossing page-turner that poses powerful, urgent questions about cultural identity, family bonds, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.
A native of Nyack, New York, Soon Wiley received his BA in English & Philosophy from Connecticut College. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University. His writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and earned him fellowships in Wyoming and France. He resides in Connecticut with his wife and their two cats. When We Fell Apart is his debut novel.
Ben Fong-Torres, who joined Rolling Stone in 1969, became its music editor and, many years later, a real-life character in the 2000 movie, Almost Famous. In his own real life, he profiled such artists as Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Jefferson Airplane, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson.
Ben has published ten books, subjects including Motown, the Eagles, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and a memoir, The Rice Room: Growing Up Chinese American. He continues to work as a writer, editor, broadcaster (He programs and DJs on Moonalice Radio), and MC-about-town. He won 5 Emmy Awards for co-anchoring broadcasts of the Chinese New Year Parade.
He is the subject of a documentary, Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres. A recent recipient of an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the California State University Board of Trustees, he lives with Dianne, his wife, and their dog, Marley, in San Francisco.
Soon Wiley photo courtesy of Rachel EH Photography; Ben Fong-Torres photo courtesy of the author