Asian American Writer is Gold Winner of Nonfiction Book Awards

Author Qin Sun Stubis

"Once Our Lives" won gold in the Nonfiction Book Awards

“Once Our Lives” won gold in the Nonfiction Book Awards

Critics, media & readers praise “Once Our Lives,” Qin Sun Stubis’ saga of four generations of Chinese women enduring war, revolution and an ancient superstition

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, August 16, 2023/ — Asian American author Qin Sun Stubis, who was born in the squalor of a Shanghai shantytown during the Great Chinese Famine and is now a Washington, D.C. area-based writer and newspaper columnist, has been named a Gold Winner of the Nonfiction Book Awards for her new historical saga, “Once Our Lives: Life, Death and Love in the Middle Kingdom.”

The honor from the Nonfiction Authors Association is part of a growing swell of recognition for the dramatic real-life story of four generations of Chinese women who survive war, revolution, and the seemingly unshakable power of an ancient superstition. Taking the reader on an exotic journey from cosmopolitan 1930s Shanghai to China’s dusty and dangerous “Wild West,” the book is filled with fantastical but true tales of pirates, prophecies, babies sold in opium dens, and a love story between a man whose fate was said to be sealed before he was born and a woman with three identities.

Debuting as an Amazon #1 New Release for 41 days, “Once Our Lives” is being praised by reviewers, media, historians, and readers:

* Kirkus Reviews calls the book “…a sweeping story, rich with detail” and “a wide-ranging story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.”

* Ms. Magazine says it is “Engaging, endearing, heartbreaking and hopeful” and chose it as a recommended read.

* Glamour Magazine UK calls “Once Our Lives” a “Best New Book” and told its readers, “For some stunning non-fiction . . . this one is perfect for all fans of the multi-generational family saga.”

* A Readers’ Favorite review gives the story five stars and says that it is “A well-written, beautifully immersive book that while non-fiction reads even better than fiction. Very highly recommended.”

“I am very honored by this award and hope that it will help bring attention to a book that gives a rare glimpse into the extraordinary lives of ordinary people living during some of the greatest historical events of the 20th Century,” says Qin Sun Stubis. “Most of all, at a time of rising anti-Asian sentiment, I hope that it will help build greater understanding between East and West and remind people of our common hopes, dreams, struggles, and humanity.”

About the Author

Growing up during the Cultural Revolution, Qin Sun Stubis quickly learned that words could thrill – and even kill. She saw her defiantly honest father imprisoned for using the wrong words. Shunned as political pariahs, Qin and her family sustained themselves with books and stories of adventure and past glory. With the help of a borrowed radio, an eccentric British teacher, and a fortuitous assignment as a library assistant, Qin discovered and fell in love with Western literature, committing to memory the strange but beautiful sounds of Keats, Wordsworth, and Lincoln.

But it was in bed late each night, after scouring local parks for enough firewood to cook the family’s meal of rice, that Qin and her three small sisters heard the dramatic stories that make up this book. The four girls listened to their mother, an aspiring actress in the early days of Asian cinema, recount colorful tales of pirates, prophecies, fortunes won and lost, babies sold in opium dens, glorious lives and gruesome deaths. Based on actual experiences and family lore from the Post-Imperial to Post-Cultural Revolution eras, these stories represent a wealth of colorful but largely overlooked Chinese history.

Eventually, through sheer grit and perseverance, Qin won admission to the famed Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and English Literature. With the help of family, friends, and a powerful U.S. Senator, Qin was granted a visa to study abroad. She arrived in America with two suitcases and not much more. After winning several scholarships, she graduated with a master’s degree and a profound love for her new adoptive country.

For the past 15 years, Qin has been a newspaper columnist and writes poems, essays, short stories, and original Chinese tall tales inspired by traditional Asian themes. Her writing is inflected with both Eastern and Western flavors in ways that transcend geography to touch hearts and reveal universal truths. To learn more about her and obtain high-resolution author and book cover photos, please visit

“Once Our Lives: Life, Death and Love in the Middle Kingdom” (Guernica Editions, ISBN # 9781771837965, $21.95, 366 pp) is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

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