Rhetorical questions implode throughout Luis H. Francia’s Tattered Boat . . . Given his global concerns and universal queries, the sea-tossing is still the inquisition of a planet fraught with false gods.
Answers lead to a revelation of neither-ness—as celestial mortal. And it spurs on the wanderer through islands rife with idiot loves and slaughtered angels . . .
Occasionally the poet as seer conjures the ordinary: a hand, a foot, a tree, a kiss, an encounter with a dentist. ’Tis all fair game for the troubadour who also surveys the ghosts of the younger self, survives after calibrating the very air, and reaches shore after shore. — Krip Yuson
(Lucre, this is just one blurb, may parating pa galling Danton Remoto. We have no idea when he’ll send it. Ito na lang muna ang gamitin mo.)
Hailed as a "supreme storyteller" (Philadelphia Inquirer) for his "cunning, dismaying and beautifully conceived" fiction (New York Times), Akhil Sharma is possessed of a narrative voice "as hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoyevsky" (The Nation). In his highly anticipated second novel, Family Life, he delivers a story of astonishing intensity and emotional precision.
We meet the Mishra family in Delhi in 1978, where eight-year-old Ajay and his older brother Birju play cricket in the streets, waiting for the day when their plane tickets will arrive and they and their mother can fly across the world and join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more: when automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important. Pressing an elevator button and the elevator closing its doors and rising, they have a feeling of power at the fact that the elevator is obeying them. Life is extraordinary until tragedy strikes, leaving one brother severely brain-damaged and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land. Ajay, the family’s younger son, prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family’s new life.
Two men, each unaware of the other, share a common family secret: they were sold for adoption by their American father shortly after their births in the Philippines. Three alternating stories interweave the experiences of father Andrew Breszky and the two sons who try to connect and piece together the puzzle of their reckless, impulsive father. One lives in New York and the other grows up in the south of France, later traveling all over Asia as a documentary filmmaker. Both will discover that their relationships somehow echo that of the young man whose history eludes them.
Celebrated Filipino writer Eric Gamalinda’s international debut novel is a contemporary work of ideas that combines mystery, film noir, and existential philosophy. Highly intricate and written in a style reminiscent of the maverick narrative techniques of such filmmakers as Andrei Tarkovsky and Béla Tarr, and with some of the philosophical underpinnings of Michel Houellebecq or Javier Marías. Named after the region of the moon where Apollo 16 landed in the same year these men were born, The Descartes Highlands demonstrates that for lives marked by unrelieved loneliness, the only hope lies in the redemptive power of love.
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .
So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
When brain surgeon Thomas Eapen decides to cut short a visit to his mother’s home in India, he sets into motion a series of events that will forever haunt him and his wife, Kamala, their intellectually furious son, Akhil, and their watchful daughter, Amina. Now, twenty years later, in the heat of a New Mexican summer, Thomas seems to be derailing, and it’s up to Amina—a photographer in the midst of her own career crisis—to figure out what is really going on. But getting to the truth is far harder than it seems. From Thomas’ unwillingness to talk, to Kamala’s Born Again convictions, to run-ins with hospital staff that seem to know much more than they let on, Amina finds herself at the center of a mystery so tangled that to make any headway, she has to unravel her family’s painful past. With lush language, sharp dialogue, and an eye for detail, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is an epic, heartbreaking, hilarious debut.
The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See’s highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls.
It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.
The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.
In the beginning, there is no he. There is no she.
Two cells make up one cell. This is the mathematics behind creation. One plus one makes one. Life begets life. We are the period to a sentence, the effect to a cause, always belonging to someone. We are never our own.
This is why we are so lonely.
She of the Mountains is a beautifully rendered illustrated novel by Vivek Shraya, the author of the Lambda Literary Award finalist God Loves Hair. Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.
The illustrations are by Raymond Biesinger, whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and the New York Times.
“In her sensitively wrought debut novel, For Today I Am a Boy, set in a sleepy and predominantly white town in Ontario, Kim Fu invites us inside the Huang household, where patriarchy rules, the mother tongue is forbidden — because it will make the children's English "come out wrong" — and a single pot of Cantonese-style white fungus soup can seem a potent threat to the painstaking “project of Westernization.”... [Fu] is intimately attuned to the anxieties of first-generation go-getters. Her novel abounds in recognizable archetypes of the model minority — the striving civil servant; the silent, servile wife; the academic superstar — but the story itself contemplates something larger: how to define and defend one's identity against the clamoring voices of expectation, from both family and society... For Today I Am a Boy is as much about the construction of self as the consequences of its unwilling destruction — and what happens when its acceptance seems as foreign as another country.”
—Jiayang Fan, New York Times Book Review
As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.
Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear. Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.
"This Way To the Sugar explodes with a longing to hold the past and future, make them dance and give birth to Hieu Minh Nguyen, who the whole time has been spinning each line into impossible being."
—Ed Bok Lee
"His work is crisp and brave and incredibly alive. Each poem will thump inside you like a new heart."
"If it’s unclear how Nguyen survived the wreckage, at least we know why: beauty, Eros, the body. “I am typing with my tongue / I am so hard,” the poet taunts, declaring, “I have built myself / a safer body,” laying bare the sweet physicality of speech."
"Hieu's book should be required reading. He is patient with his ghosts, letting each sing its song of broken glass and burning houses and bathroom rugs as band aids for black mold."
ara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents. And so when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi.
As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet?
Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (American-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire world has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works— miserably—as a dishwasher.
But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie’s natural talents begin to emerge. With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed—something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. When Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds— eastern and western, old world and new—to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.
On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.
In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.
In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will become legend to those she left behind.
Anime Wong is a memory book of performances, most of which were produced collaboratively, reflecting questions of gender, identity, Orientalism, and racial politics. Yamashita’s theatrical work is fiction interpreted by the body in real time; these kinetic encounters, complete with giant foam-rubber sushi and cyborg kung fu fighters, create a space for humor, interaction, and epiphany.