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Common Reading 2023: My Family's Failures Took Center Stage in "Everything Everywhere All At Once" by Brian Lin

My Family's Failures Took Center Stage in "Everything Everywhere All At Once" — Brian Lin

In “My Family's Failures Took Center Stage in 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'”, the author connects his experiences with his family as a gay Taiwanese man to the award-winning film Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever seen a film that connected and resonated with you like Everything Everywhere All At Once did for Brian Lin?

  1. Have you seen Everything Everywhere All At Once? How did Brian Lin’s experience of the film connect with or differ from your own?

Class Activities

  • Write an essay that connects your personal experience with a film you enjoyed.

  • Write a script for a movie scene inspired by something you’ve experienced. Get friends or classmates to perform the script with you.

Introduction — Cindy Chen

At some point or another, we have all imagined what our lives would be like if we were the best version of ourselves. If we were smarter, procrastinated less, exercised more, ate healthier, worked harder, etc.

This idea of an alternate self is explored in the record-breaking film Everything Everywhere All At Once, which follows the story of an ordinary Chinese mother who has been tasked with saving the world. While summarizing the film, Chinese American writer Brian Lin weaves together its themes with reflections on his own fractured relationship with his family.

As a child of immigrant parents myself, I empathize with Lin’s reality. Generational and cultural differences can silence the love we feel toward our parents and they toward us. This is a painful experience that influences the dynamic of Asian American families, including the one depicted in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

At its core, Everything Everywhere All At Once is “deeply Asian American,” but I believe the film is also fundamentally universal. It teaches us that our lives are composed of a series of actions—some of which we are proud of and others of which we come to regret.

As you read Brian Lin’s essay, consider how failure helps us make the most out of life. How does it initiate change and guide us in new directions? How can we use failure to understand our relationships with others and ourselves?

Related Videos

"Everything Everywhere All At Once | Official Trailer HD | A24" from A24

Additional Resources

SU Asian Studies Minor

Learn more about Susquehanna's Asian Studies minor.

SU Asian Cultural Association Instagram

Check out the Instagram for Susquehanna's Asian Cultural Association to get involved in the club and their events.

SU Inclusive Excellence

Learn more about Susquehanna's Inclusive Excellence initiative, which comprises all of SU's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and resources for LGBTQ+ people on campus.

My Drag Masculinity Steals the Show in “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

Read part two of Brian Lin's series of essays on Everything Everywhere All At Once.

I Rewrite My American Story in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Read part three of Brian Lin's series of essays on Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Brian Lin's Instagram

Check out Brian Lin's Instagram, where he has several posts discussing his Everything Everywhere All At Once essay series.

Why 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' feels more like reality than movie magic

Read another essay talking about how Everything Everywhere All At Once connected to the author's life.

What I Learned When I Came Out to My Asian Mother

In this essay, the author discusses her experience being queer and Asian.

11 Films That Highlight and Reflect Asian American Experiences – Nerdist

Check out this list for more films featuring Asian Americans.

8 Gorgeous Generational Family Fiction By Asian Authors

Check out this list for recommendations of books about Asian families.

Coming Out: Living Authentically as LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

This guide from the Human Rights Campaign provides resources for LGBTQ+ Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is also available in Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

About the Author

Brian Lin is a Ph.D. candidate in the creative writing and literature program at USC. He has attended the Tin House Summer Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and the VONA Summer Workshop. He was a fellow at the Writing by Writers Tomales Bay Workshop and the Community of Writers Fiction Workshop and a resident at Ragdale and The Cabins. His work can be found in The Rumpus, The Margins, Lambda Literary, Hyphen Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Brian is working on a novel and other books of prose.


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