Teenager Lily Hu is fully immersed in the life and culture of San Francisco’s Chinatown, home to Chinese immigrant families like hers. But as she comes of age in the 1950s, her passion for rockets and space exploration is matched by her curiosity about the Telegraph Club, located in a neighboring part of the city her parents have asked her to avoid.
Lily and her new friend, Kathleen, begin to sneak out at night to the club, which hosts performances by Tommy Andrews, a woman who dresses and performs in a traditionally masculine style. Kath and Lily’s interest in each other continues to grow despite the very real danger faced by two girls falling in love in 1954.
At the same time, McCarthy-era fears about Communism, coupled with ongoing anti-Asian hate, shake the stability of the Chinese community and threaten to engulf Lily’s own father.
For the 21st year of the Vermont Reads program, we invite Vermont communities to plan projects centered around Last Night at The Telegraph Club and its themes of self-acceptance, familial and cultural ties, US/China relations, LGBTQ+ and Feminist history, McCarthyism and xenophobia, music of the 1940s and 1950s, and the Asian American experience, among others.
The start date for Vermont Reads 2023: Last night at the Telegraph Club is July 1, 2023. Applications for projects will be accepted through June 30, 2024.