Novelist weaves together Hmong cultural tale

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Houa Lor has two novels to her credit. Her most recent book, “Tomorrow: Tag Kis,” explores Hmong family relationships and the traditional role of women in that culture.

A New Richmond author has opened a window into Hmong culture with her newest book.

Houa Lor borrows experiences and conversations from her past to create a novel filled with regret, anger, peace and finally love.

The novel, titled “Tomorrow: Tag Kis,” chronicles the history of a family ripped from their war-torn homeland of Thailand.

Settling in the U.S., the family establishes a new life and begins to grow as children are born. But as the main character’s mother eventually lies on her deathbed, secrets are revealed and lives are changed.

v On her deathbed, the woman confides to her daughter the history that forced her to marry a man she did not love and led her to refuse to ever accept his love.

While the book is a work of fiction, Lor said, much of the story rings true to Hmong culture and family relationships.

“I wrote this after my father-in-law died,” she said of the three-month process of finishing the book. “A lot of the dialogue comes from my own personal life. They are words and stories that I heard from my father-in-law.”

While the main character’s mother ultimately dies full of regrets, Lor said she hopes the novel inspires readers to live life to the fullest.

“She was a woman on her death bed regretting her whole life,” Lor explained. “She was never able to forgive or forget, and she passed on her depression and regret to her children.”

Lor said her father-in-law was a “big hearted man” who taught her the importance of not dwelling on the past.

“If you learn how to live your life today, you will have tomorrows,” she explained. “If you dwell too much in the past, your future slips away.”

Lor weaves Hmong spirituality throughout the book, including the belief that people can communicate with loved ones even if they’ve passed on to the next life.

The book also explores the tension between the traditional Hmong family structure and American cultural pressures.

“We come from a very male-dominated culture,” she explained. “But we were raised in America. It’s a real culture clash.”

Lor, who has lived in New Richmond since January, is married and has three children. She is currently working on her third book and hopes to some day break into the screenplay business.

“I’ve been writing most of my life,” Lor said. “It’s great that my work has been published.”

Lor said more and more Hmong women are venturing into the fields of art and literature, breaking free of the traditional roles that have dominated their culture.

“Women really didn’t have a voice or an opinion in the past,” she said. “But the newer generations are coming out and expressing those things.”

When she’s not writing books, Lor also works as a film critic for an online Hmong website in the Twin Cities, www.hmong She is also studying creative writing and business management.

Lor’s first book, a romance novel titled “Eclipse of the Heart,” along with her newest book are available for $10 at or by calling 1-800-788-7654.

1 hlub:

Anonymous,  December 1, 2012 at 12:24 AM  

Tomorrow: Tag Kis is a great book. It really touches the personal side of me since I can relate to what she says.

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