Our Laundry, Our Town (Empire State Editions, 2022) is a memoir that decodes and processes the fractured urban oracle bones of Alvin Eng's growing up in the Flushing, Queens, a neighborhood of that singular universe that was New York City in the 1970s. From behind the counter of his parent’s Chinese hand laundry and within the confines of our household that was rooted in a different century and culture, he sought to reconcile this insular home life with the turbulent yet inspiring street life that was all around them–from faux TV martial arts stars to punk rock. By the 1980s, Flushing had become New York City’s second Chinatown.
As a theatre practitioner and professor, Alvin discovered the under-chronicled Chinese influence on Thornton Wilder’s seminal Americana drama, Our Town. At the City University of Hong Kong, Alvin and his wife, director/dramaturg Wendy Wasdahl, led a Fulbright Specialist devised theatre residency on Our Town. Subsequently, the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou invited Alvin to perform Our Town-inspired solo, and The Last Emperor of Flushing, in his family’s ancestral Guangdong, China. Learning to proudly tell his own story on stage and now on the page, Alvin now feels whole through this psyche-healing pilgrimage.