A millionaire, a magician, a fashion designer, a doctor. Dreams fulfilled and fractured. Reading like a novel, this book on my family’s history is written from the points of view of sixteen different people: my great-grandparents and grandparents, my parents, my brother and me. Jewish European and Chinese immigrant families converge in California. Sixteen Stories will explore how culture is preserved — or diluted — after immigration, and how one person’s life and decisions affect the next generation.
I never would have dreamed that I would stand in my great-grandfather’s ancestral home in southern China, or that I would unearth documents from the 1800’s listing all the siblings of another great-grandfather we hardly knew anything about.
These astonishing and surprisingly emotional experiences moved me to further research and start writing a book, called Sixteen Stories, featuring my eight great-grandparents, four grandparents, parents, my brother, and myself. Each story is written in the first person through the eyes of a different person, taking the reader to a specific year between 1895 and 2015, and to a different place: China, Poland, Russia, Latvia, California, Nevada, London.
Every person’s chapter is rich with the details of the specific cultural and historic context. You will discover how one story shapes the next: how one person’s own history and character affect others, sometimes as an inspiration, and sometimes provoking tragedy.
While this is a deeply personal project, my aim is for it to be a touching and intriguing work which speaks to all readers through its universal human truths.
I am launching this Indiegogo campaign because carving out time for this endeavour in the mornings and weekends just isn’t enough. Having the funds to cover research, writing and editing time, and the book production itself, will mean that the project can keep moving ahead with its current momentum.
I’ll be doing all of the marketing and social media myself, using my expertise as a branding and marketing professional.
Of the sixteen people portrayed in the book, only three are still alive: my father, brother and me. My great-grandfather, Joe Shoong, is known as one of the first Chinese American millionaires. In the photo below, he is standing next to his son, my grandfather, who is crying while holding a birthday cake.
Another great-grandfather, Sygmunt Postman, was born north west of Warsaw, Poland, into a Jewish family. He died young, just a few weeks before his only child, my grandfather, was born. Here is a photo of the dapper man from the late 1800s.
The research itself is ongoing and is taking me on a fascinating journey. In fact, one of the Perks available is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the research and writing process — a treasure trove of genealogy, historic and literary research. You can see some of the source material in the photo below.
1. Me, England, 2015
2. My brother, China, 2015
3. Zygmunt (my great-grandfather), Poland, 1895
4. Song (my great-grandfather), China, 1895
5. Annie (my great-grandmother), New York, 1895
6. Esther (my great-grandmother), Los Angeles, 1915
7. Israel (my great-grandfather), Salt Lake City, 1915
8. Yetta (my grandmother), Los Angeles, 1935
9. Rose (my great-grandmother), Oakland, 1935
10. Henri (my great-grandfather), Oakland, 1955
11. Harry (my grandfather), Los Angeles, 1955
12. Mary (my great-grandmother), Oakland, 1975
13. My mother, Reno, 1975
14. Milt (my grandfather), Los Angeles, 1995
15. Corri (my grandmother), Moss Beach, 1995
16. My father, Reno, 1995
Indiegogo campaign video
The campaign has now ended — thank you for your support!
Why the Sixteen Stories book is important
The planned publishing date is 2020-2021. Five chapters are already finished.
Here are your rewards.
Every single contributor will be acknowledged in the book.
Thank you (£5 / $6.50)
An acknowledgement in the book.
Digital book (£10 / $13)
The ebook and your name in the back of the book.
Paperback book (£12 / $15)
The paperback book, the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
Signed paperback (£15 / $19.50)
A signed paperback book, the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
Signed paperback twinset (£25 / $32.50)
Two signed paperback books, the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
Front row twinset (£50 / $65)
Your name in the front of the book, two signed paperback books, plus the ebook.
What’s behind the curtain? (£80 / $105)
A glimpse into the process. A 1/2 hr video call with the author, Madelyn Postman, to follow the book’s progress and talk about genealogical, historic and literary research and the writing process. Also includes your name in the front of the book, a signed paperback book and delivery, and the ebook.
Launch party (£100 / $130)
Join us for the launch party in London. Does not include transport or accommodation. You will also have your name in the front of the book, two signed paperback books and delivery, plus the ebook.
The infinite gratitude package (£500 / $650)
Join us for the launch party in London. Does not include transport or accommodation. You will also have your name in the front of the book, four signed paperback books and delivery, plus the ebook.
Make a Big Noise!
If you are intrigued by this project, please contribute today, and please spread the word in person, by email and on social media. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.