Author Archives: Eric Silberman

After publishing her first book, Leong ’13 begins senior thesis

On a recent Thursday evening, packs of sharply dressed Princeton students flooded the basement of Robertson Hall for a Goldman Sachs information session, hoping for a shot at success. Down the hall, a similarly dressed politics major from Malaysia, Elaine Leong ’13, spoke of her success of a different sort: becoming a published author as an undergraduate.
 
As Leong ‘13 described in her Nassau Literary Review-sponsored talk, “Published at Princeton,” her success arose from a chance encounter in the basement of Witherspoon Hall, where she met then economics Ph.D. candidate Kaiwen Leong *11 (no relation) and economics major Edward Choi ’14. The two had already began collaborating on stories of Leong *11’s life experiences, in which he endured abuse and several school expulsions before achieving acceptance to and graduation from Boston University, and later, acceptance to Princeton. Leong ’13, who has a strong background in creative writing, agreed to help with the project. “It was kind of like saying yes to getting married,” she said, laughing. “But I said yes, and I never looked back.”
 
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The product of their yearlong collaboration was a rough manuscript, which they then solicited for publication, a process that would prove to be more difficult a challenge than expected. Leong *11 began searching for publishers in Asia, and Choi and Leong ’13 searched, unsuccessfully, in the United States. “It’s like throwing it into a void,” Leong ‘13 said. “It was a complete failure.”
 
Leong *11 finally secured a publisher in Singapore, Marshall Cavendish, and in late September, the book was released in Singapore under the title, Singapore’s Lost Son: How I Made it From Dropout to Millionaire Princeton Ph.D. (The title is now available in the United States in Kindle format.) Though feeling like a “plankton” in a vast sea, Leong ’13 and the others enlisted connections at the University to help spread the word, and secured Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83, President Tilghman, journalism professor Evan Thomas, and former trustee Shelby Davis ’58 as reviewers.
 

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Dale winner Morgan ’14 follows trail of segregation-era travel guides

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Peyton Morgan ’14 snaps a photo of a historical marker on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. (Photo: Cole Morgan)
This is the fifth and final post in our summer series about Dale Award recipients.
“See how happy I am?” Peyton Morgan ’14 said, showing off the picture on his driver’s license. He acquired the license in anticipation of a seven-week summer road trip, during which his only guides were a GPS and The Green Book. The book, published by postal-service worker Victor Green between 1936 and 1964, once served as a guide to hotels, restaurants, and businesses that would serve African-American travelers.
Backed by a Martin A. Dale ’53 Summer Award, Morgan followed an itinerary through 15 cities across America as he documented the present state of the locations listed in the book. Undertaking the trip on a newly minted license was daunting (“I’m surprised they let me go!” the Chicago resident said), but his determination drove him — literally — to find meaning in a largely forgotten text.
Searching for the listed establishments, Morgan found little: Only two people he met had heard of The Green Book, and while some buildings still stood, few remained as they had been during the segregation era. Sometimes, all physical evidence had disappeared completely. “The visit of that day would consist of going to the side of the highway, and realizing that the neighborhood is no longer there,” he said.

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