Author Iris Yang will be speaking in Fontana about her two historical novels on the Flying Tigers (American Volunteer Group) and their contributions to China in World War II.
Yang will speak on Oct. 3 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Veteran’s Resource Center of the Lewis Library and Technology Center, 8437 Sierra Avenue.
Her novels, "Wings of a Flying Tiger" and "Will of a Tiger," have received positive reviews nationwide and have been featured in a dozen newspapers.
Yang has been interviewed on National Public Radio (WUNC's “The State of Things”). She has spoken to dozens of veterans groups, civic organizations, and libraries and was invited to speak at the Flying Tigers WWII Veterans Reunion in San Diego this month.
Yang was born and raised in China, where Americans were called “American Devils.” Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine writing books about American heroes. In fact, writing was a dangerous career when books were being burned and her grandmother, the first Chinese woman to receive a Master’s degree in the UK, was wrongfully accused of being a counter-revolutionary rightist and fired from her university job. Yang had to choose a safer path—to study science.
After graduating from Wuhan University, she was accepted by the prestigious CUSBEA (China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program). At age 23, with poor English, little knowledge of the country, and 500 borrowed dollars, she came to the United States as a graduate student at the University of Rochester, N.Y. She received a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and moved to North Carolina to manage a laboratory at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Although she published a number of scientific papers, Yang had a passion for creative writing, just like her grandmother, mother, and aunt. Her debut novel "Wings of a Flying Tiger" was published in June 2018, and its sequel "Will of a Tiger" was released earlier this year. She holds a private pilot license, and her admiration for fighter pilots was clearly conveyed in her books.
“Both books are works of fiction,” Yang said. “But to me, they are also personal. As a Chinese, I’m thankful for the Flying Tigers’ bravery and sacrifice; without their help, the course of Chinese history might have been changed, my family might not have survived, and I might not have existed. As a U.S. citizen, I’m honored to write a book about the American heroes.”
Her novels have touched many people’s hearts, including the son of a Flying Tiger who gave his father’s flight jacket to Yang.