"Neither Here Nor There"
From the Nominator
"Executive Editor Mark Alden Branch ran across a passing mention of a Chinese Yale graduate from 1887 who married a white New Haven heiress. His curiosity led him to the tangled, fascinating, and largely untold story of the first Asian American to publish a book in English.
Yan Phou Lee came to America at age 12 and was raised in a New England host family as part of a program to educate Chinese boys who would bring American values back to their country. He ended up staying in America for 54 years, marrying twice and fathering four remarkable children. Despite a long list of jobs and ventures, he never quite found a home here. He left his family and returned to China at age 66.
This article—which includes a train robbery, a sensational divorce scandal, a fallen World War I aviator, concealed Chinese ancestry, and more—uncovers an important piece of Asian American history of special interest to our audience of Yale alumni. Besides Lee himself, two of his children, a grandchild, and a great-grandchild attended Yale.
The article prompted a notably large number of favorable letters to the magazine. The university’s communications office (which is separate from the magazine) took the unusual step of promoting it widely on its social media channels."
From the Judges
Compelling story that was well researched.