The first “By the Album” Q&A I did was with Ian Rankin, a crime writer who plays in a band on the side, regularly works music into his novels, and when I interviewed him, was about to come to Southern California to do a book talk in San Diego and a Los Angeles Review of Books cocktails-with-the-author event in Silver Lake. It seemed only natural to follow that one up with an interview with Lisa Brackmann. Not only is she another crime writer who plays in a band but she was also set to moderate Rankin’s San Diego bookstore appearance. So far, so logical, but why turn next to Jiayang Fan, who is neither a crime novelist nor, at least as far as I know, someone who moonlights singing or playing an instrument? Well, like Rankin earlier this year, she’s about to come to Southern California to do events, in her case to give a public talk for UC Irvine’s Long US-China Institute and also conduct a Master Class for UCI’s Literary Journalism Program (both free and open to the public). Like Brackmann, Fan has not only physically moved between China and the United States a lot during her life, but also toggles between the two settings in her writing. Last but far from least, several of her most interesting contributions to the New Yorker, from a lively look at a Chinese “boy band” made up of girls to a wonderful recent profile of Canto-pop singer Denise Ho, have dealt with music.

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