Photo by Tommy Kha

AVA CHIN, a 5th generation Chinese American New Yorker, is the author of the narrative nonfiction book MOTT STREET: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming (Penguin Press, 2023), an intimate portrayal of the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act laws (1882-1943) on four generations of her family as they attempted to lay down roots in America.

Publisher’s Weekly called MOTT STREET “stunning,” and the New York Times described it as “sensitive, ambitious, well-reported.” It was a 2024 ALA Notable Book and named a Best Book of 2023 by TIME, the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus, Library Journal and Elle magazine. It garnered rave reviews from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Kirkus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

Doyers Street, NYC. Photograph by Tommy Kha

A professor and a journalist, Chin is the author of the award-winning Eating Wildly (Simon & Schuster, 2014), the editor of SPLIT (McGraw Hill, 2002), and the former Urban Forager columnist for the New York Times (2009-2013). 1st Prize Winner of the 2015 MFK Fisher Book Awards, Eating Wildly was one of Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2014” and a Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 semifinalist. Kirkus Reviews described it as “A delectable feast of the heart.”

Ava Chin has written for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Saveur, Marie Claire, the Village Voice, SPIN, and VIBE, among others. She has held fellowships at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, the U.S. Fulbright Scholar’s program, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. In addition, she is a fellow and a board member of the New York Institute for Humanities. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, an M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. from Queens College.

She is Professor of Creative Nonfiction and Journalism at the CUNY Graduate Center where she is the head of the American Studies Certificate Program and she teaches nonfiction writing at the College of Staten Island. The Huffington Post named her one of “9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading.”

1st Prize Winner of the 2015 MFK Fisher Book Awards, Eating Wildly was one of Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2014.” Kirkus Reviews described it as “A delectable feast of the heart.” Eating Wildly reveals how nature and the Sustainability movement helped Chin to navigate deep family loss and taught her important lessons in self-reliance. After the loss of a beloved family member, she immerses herself in urban natures—discovering the city’s best mushrooms, mulberries, and even a swarm of wild honeybees—meeting fellow foragers and mycologists along the way. As the seasons turn, she starts to see the world as a place of abundance and beauty, where everything is interconnected and interdependent, and timing is key.

Ava Chin has appeared on C-SPAN, PBS’ MetroFocus, NPR’s Code Switch, and WNYC’s “All Things Considered.” She has been featured in ELLEMartha Stewart, the Village Voice, PBS’ “Victory Garden/Perennial Plate,” and Edible Manhattan and Brooklyn.

She is the editor of Split: Stories From a Generation Raised on Divorce (McGraw-Hill, 2002) a collection of nonfiction essays about growing up in a divorced family, which Booklist called a “brave and insightful collection.” Her essay “The Missing” reveals the challenges of being raised by a single mother, and how she was eventually reunited with her estranged father as an adult.

A former slam poet, Chin has performed on stages at the Whitney Museum, the Knitting Factory, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Woodstock94. She was a Van Lier Fellow in fiction at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and a Lilly Lieb writer-in-residence at SUNY-Purchase. The American Book Review described her prose as “piquant,” and the German newspaper Taz wrote “her poetry reflects the noise and heat of the New York metropolis.”

She lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.