The Latehomecomer

The Latehomecomer

A Hmong Family Memoir

Book - 2008
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In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. Driven to tell her family's story after her grandmother's death, The Latehomecomer is Kao Kalia Yang's tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. It is also an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.

Beginning in the 1970s, as the Hmong were being massacred for their collaboration with the United States during the Vietnam War, Yang recounts the harrowing story of her family's captivity, the daring rescue undertaken by her father and uncles, and their narrow escape into Thailand where Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp.

When she was six years old, Yang's family immigrated to America, and she evocatively captures the challenges of adapting to a new place and a new language. Through her words, the dreams, wisdom, and traditions passed down from her grandmother and shared by an entire community have finally found a voice.

Together with her sister, Kao Kalia Yang is the founder of a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. A graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University, Yang has recently screened The Place Where We Were Born , a film documenting the experiences of Hmong American refugees. Visit her website at

Publisher: Minneapolis : Coffee House Press, [2008]
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9781566892087
Characteristics: 277 pages : portraits ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Late homecomer


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Jun 18, 2018

What a wonderful book. I work in St. Paul and many Hmung people live and work there. I feel like I have a much better understanding of their involvement to help our government and the terrible price they paid for it. They lived close to the land and loved the land where they lived but it became intolerable to stay. It was a long grueling route to come to America. Lots of hardship as seen through the eyes of a child. The authors love for family shines through it all. She explains Hmong customs and beliefs in great detail. Her love for her Grandmother is heart warming. It made me think of my family members who are gone. I'm glad I picked it up and would recommend it to anyone young or old. Especially important during these recent immigration attacks.

SPPL_János Mar 15, 2018

One of the first memoirs by a Hmong-American may chart the usual story of an immigrant family, but the emotionally resonant details of the Yangs' desperate flight from genocide in Laos, stagnation in a refugee camp in Thailand, and settlement in St Paul (with its blessings and challenges) is an amazing testament to strength and hope. It's also a sorely needed look look at the Hmong people; the author wryly recalls how her lessons on the Vietnam War in school never mentioned the Hmong, who fought as insurgents for the Americans and lost their homeland because of it.

Jan 25, 2018

Wish to pick up book after March 17

BostonPL_LauraB Nov 29, 2017

An excellent memoir that is truly a "family memoir" about Yang's family's harrowing journey through the mountains of Laos, surviving in the refugee camps in Thailand, and finally the challenges of being refugees in America, specifically St. Paul, MN. I learned so much and really enjoyed the way in which this story was told, which felt almost like it could be an oral history in parts - much like the way Hmong language and culture has been passed down - through the spoken word rather than written word.

May 16, 2017

Kao Kalia Yang immigrated to the United States with her parents and older sister in 1987, after having spent the first seven years of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand. Although her family's native home was in Laos, the Hmong people were no longer welcome in that country after having assisted the U.S. during the Vietnam War. 'The Latehomecomer' is the story of her family history in Laos and Thailand, their eventual resettling in Minnesota, and their efforts to adapt to the unfamiliar culture and prepare Kao Kalia and her siblings for success in their new home.

I found the historical detail surrounding Hmong history and their displacement following the Vietnam War extremely helpful and informative in understanding why Minnesota saw such a sudden increase in Hmong immigration in the 1980s and 1990s. I would speculate that the majority of Minnesotans have very little idea of who the Hmong are, why they no longer have a "home country," and why the U.S. bears responsibility.

Nov 07, 2015

Poetic story of a heroic family journey.

Apr 02, 2013

Title for November 2013

Apr 11, 2009

Amazing new writer...great book.

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