Vanessa Hua

Acclaimed Novelist & Story Writer

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • An Evening with Vanessa Hua


“Hua writes with sophistication and the punch of the immigrant experience, filled with nuance and fresh detail.” –LitHub

“Heart-wrenching, implacable. Hua draws the reader in with her power of perception. ” –Huffington Post

 “Diverse, cosmopolitan.” –The Rumpus

Vanessa Hua is an award-winning author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities (2016), received an Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature, was a finalist for a California Book Award, and O, The Oprah Magazine called it a “searing debut.” Her most recent book, A River of Stars (2018), is a powerful novel about motherhood, immigration, and identity.

For two decades, Hua has been writing about Asia and the diaspora, filing stories from China, Burma, Panama, South Korea, and Ecuador. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times before heading east to the Hartford Courant. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Newsweek, among other publications.

A Bay Area native, she received a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan literary award, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing.  She is a graduate of Stanford University and UC Riverside’s MFA program. Other achievements include the Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice coverage; the Asian American Journalists Association’s National Journalism Award — online/broadcast, print, and radio; the Society of Professional Journalists, the James Madison Freedom of Information Award, the San Francisco Press Club Greater Bay Area Journalism Award, San Francisco Press Club, and Best of the West.

Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, ZYZZYVA,  Guernica, and elsewhere. She received an Emerging Writer Fellowship from Aspen Words,  a fellowship at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference,  and a writer’s residency at Hedgebrook, among other honors.  She is a contributing nonfiction editor AAWW’s The Margins, and she works and teaches at the Writers’ Grotto in San Francisco.  She is on the faculty at the 2018 Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. 


Vanessa Hua is the author of Deceit and Other Possibilities (2016), winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and a finalist for the California Book Award, as well as A River of Stars (2018). She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice reporting as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, Asian American Journalists’ Association, and Best of the West. A columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, she has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and ZYZZYVA, among others, and has filed stories from China, Burma, South Korea, and elsewhere. She teaches at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.


A RIVER OF STARS (Novel, 2018)

“Vanessa Hua’s compelling A River of Stars is a story of resistance, survival, and self-determination in a world that is seemingly indifferent to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised.” —Min Jin Lee

Holed up with other moms-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory job and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, he’s overjoyed because the doctors confirmed he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his son has every advantage, he has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. U.S. citizenship will open doors for their little prince. As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend. Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. They flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss Yeung is not far behind her. A River of Stars is an entertaining, wildly unpredictable adventure, told with empathy and wit by an author the San Francisco Chronicle says “has a deep understanding of the pressure of submerged emotions and polite, face-saving deceptions.” It’s a vivid examination of home and belonging, and a moving portrayal of a woman determined to build her own future.

DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES (Short Stories, 2016)

“An intriguing collection…each of her protagonists is never quite grounded, caught between multiple cultures and countries. Each hides beneath layers of deceit, clinging to lies that enable survival.” –Booklist

In this powerful debut collection, Vanessa Hua gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none. From a Hong Kong movie idol fleeing a sex scandal, to an obedient daughter turned Stanford imposter, to a Chinatown elder summoned to his village, to a Korean-American pastor with a secret agenda, the characters in these ten stories vividly illustrate the conflict between self and society, tradition and change. In “What We Have is What We Need,” winner of The Atlantic student fiction prize, a boy from Mexico reunites with his parents in San Francisco. When he suspects his mother has found love elsewhere, he fights to keep his family together. With insight and wit, she writes about what wounds us and what we must survive. Her searing stories explore the clash of cultures and the complex, always shifting allegiances that we carry in ourselves, our family, and our community. Deceit and Other Possibilities marks the emergence of a remarkable new writer.