Mary Ann Key Book Club

A collaboration with columnist Myron Medcalf, the Mary Ann Key Book Club uses reading as a catalyst for conversation as we attempt to better understand past and current injustices – including systemic racism, other forms of discrimination, and bias that affects marginalized communities.


Fall 2021

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to confront the Asian American condition and examine the complex relationships between race, family, heritage, and society in America. Binding these essays together is Hong's theory of "minor feelings” – when American optimism contradicts your own reality, and you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today.

  • “The lie that Asians have it good is so insidious…racial trauma is not a competitive sport.”
  • “Minor feelings arise…upon hearing a slight, knowing it’s racial, and being told, Oh, that’s all in your head.”
  • “Even if we’ve [Asian Americans] been here for four generations, our status remains conditional; belonging is always promised just out of reach so that we behave…”

Resources for reading, learning and discussion


Fall 2021

Hennepin County Library hosts facilitated discussions and programs to engage residents in conversations about the featured titles. 

Mary Ann Key Book Club: A Conversation With Cathy Park Hong
Tuesday, October 12, 7-8:30 p.m.

Join the Mary Ann Key Book Club for an exclusive evening featuring Cathy Park Hong, award-winning author of our fall 2021 book club selection Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. The author will be joined in conversation by Star Tribune columnist and book club partner Myron Medcalf. The virtual talk will conclude with a live Q&A session with participants. Registration required.

Mary Ann Key Book Club Discussions
October 14, 19, 21, 23, 26 and 27

Join our discussion of Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. Each small group discussion will be led by one member of our panel. Please register for only one small group discussion program. Registration required.

Mary Ann Key Book Club - A Community Discussion of "Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning"
Tuesday, November 2, 7-8:30 p.m.

Join columnist Myron Medcalf and moderator Lindsay Peifer in a virtual conversation with Asian American community leaders. Panelists will discuss Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, the Asian American experience and how individuals and society can dismantle racism and make real change for a better future. This live event will be recorded and available for on-demand viewing on Hennepin County Library's YouTube page. Registration required.

Collaborator: Star Tribune
Sponsor: Friends of Hennepin County Library


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About the book club

The book club was inspired by a Star Tribune column written by Myron Medcalf – the great-great-great-grandson of Mary Ann Key.

“I’m honored to partner with Hennepin County Library to launch the Mary Ann Key Book Club, named after the matriarch of my family, who was a slave in Georgia in the 1850s. Purchased for $1,000 at the age of 14, Mary Ann Key persevered. Her body was in bondage, but slavery never stole the freedom of her heart, mind and soul. This book club is about focusing on the truths of the past, our challenges in the present and the possibilities of the future…” – Myron Medcalf

This program is supported by Friends of the Hennepin County Library. Their generous financial support is helping to provide greater access to print and eBook copies of the featured books.