Literary Event of the Week: Seattle Reads The Best We Could Do

Last week, I raved about this year's Seattle Reads selection, Thi Bui's graphic memoir The Best We Could Do. The book, about Bui's family's evolution from war-tossed citizens to refugees to Americans, is a fantastic answer to the kind of questions that lazy comfortable Americans ask about immigrants: why do they come here? Why don't they stay home?

The book is very clear: they don't stay home because home doesn't exist anymore. But Bui does impressive work moving between the macro and micro views of her own story. This is at once a sweeping story of immigration and a closely drawn portrait of a family struggling with a cycle of neglect and abuse and heartbreak. Last week, I wrote that "Like most family histories, [The Best We Can Do] spins forward, then backward, then forward in time again."

Bui will appear all over town this week as part of the Seattle Reads program. There are book group meetings to discuss the book in Magnolia and Columbia City and Northgate Community Center.

On Saturday night, Bui will read at the central library branch downtown, along with a staged reading of the book with local theater luminaries Susan Lieu and Kathy Hsieh. There are also special meetings for low-vision readers and seniors as well. It's almost harder to not attend one of these events. I recommend that you do; this is the kind of book that will make you think differently about your neighbors, in the best way possible.

Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave., 386-4636,, 7 pm, free.