A daughter of Korean immigrants, Hyeseung Song spends her earliest years in the cane fields of Texas where her loyalties are divided between a restless father in search of Big Money, and a beautiful yet domineering mother whose resentments about her own life compromises her relationship with her daughter. With her parents at constant odds, Song learns more words in Korean for hatred than for love. When the family’s fake Gucci business lands them in bankruptcy, Song moves to a new elementary school. On her first day, a girl asks the teacher: “Can she speak English?”

Neither rich nor white, Song does what is necessary to be visible: she internalizes the model minority myth as well as her beloved mother’s dreams to see her on a secure path. Song meets these expectations by attending the best Ivy League universities in the country. But when she wavers, in search of an artistic life on her own terms, her mother warns, “Happiness is what unexceptional people tell themselves when they don’t have the talent and drive to go after real success.” Years of self-erasure take a toll and Song experiences recurring episodes of depression and mania. A thought repeats: I want to die. I want to die. Song enters a psychiatric hospital where she meets patients with similar struggles. So begins her sweeping journey to heal herself by losing everything.

Unflinching and lyrical, Docile is one woman’s story of subverting the model minority myth, contending with mental illness, and finding her self-worth by looking within.

About the Author: 

Hyeseung Song is a first-generation Korean American writer and painter. She lives in Brooklyn and upstate New York. Visit her website at HyeseungSong.com.

About the Program: 

  • Registration opens on Monday, May 13 at 12pm.
  • This FREE event will be presented in-person and virtually.
  • To attend in person please register here.
  • Doors will open to registered attendees at 6 pm.
  • Free parking vouchers are available to program attendees who park at the Franklin Street Garage (15 W. Franklin Street) after 4pm.  Ask Pratt event staff for your parking voucher prior to or after the program.

Virtual Meeting Information

There is no registration required for virtual attendance, simply visit the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Facebook or Youtube page.

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Add to Calendar 20240725 America/New_York 400 Cathedral Street Baltimore MD 21201 Hyeseung Song: “Docile”