Min Jin Lee’s second novel Pachinko follows several generations of a Korean family living under Japanese colonialism. In the 1930s in a small town in colonial Korea, a young woman named Sunja is abandoned by her wealthy lover, but saved by a young minister who marries her and takes her to Japan. If there can be said to be a central character it is Sunja, though Lee weaves such an intricate tale as to make it hard […] Continue »
Shanthi Sekaran’s novel Lucky Boy is the bewitching story of two mothers and their love and expectations for themselves and the one boy each calls their own. Young Solimar Castro Valdez braves the border crossing in pursuit of a better life in California. In the turmoil of the experience, she finds love. At the end of it, she’ll be expecting. Kavya Reddy, already married several years to her husband Rishi, is looking for the next step […] Continue »
One of the (few) benefits of having teenagers is getting a glimpse of what youth culture is like these days. Given that I myself am decades removed from that time period, I like to compare what I see and hear from them to how it was when I was young. Since my kids and I all grew up in communities full of Asian Americans (unlike John), I have some perspective on how Asian American youth […] Continue »
Sonya Chung’s newest novel The Loved Ones is an intense look into love, loss, guilt, and reconciliation. Two families who share a last name find their lives intersecting. Charles Lee is the African American father in a biracial family. Hannah Lee is the daughter of Korean immigrants who babysits for his children and is present when a devastating event strikes the family. But The Loved Ones is not a simple linear tale, but rather jumps through time exploring inter-generational experiences […] Continue »
A number of years ago I stumbled upon a series of children’s books, subtitled “Tales from the Chinese Zodiac“. There was a book for the Chinese New Year, and I eagerly bought the one for the Year of the Snake, glad to find something to help my then 3 year old daughter appreciate the coming Chinese New Year. Fast forward to 2017 and the last of the series has come out, to celebrate the Year […] Continue »
In the Asian ethnoburb where I live, one sees three kinds of buses. One kind is the Santa Clara Valley Transit public transportation bus, and another is the kind is the tech bus, as white Google buses pick people up and drop off every week day near my house. A third kind is the bus that stops at the local Asian shopping center that picks up people to trips, often to casinos. My dad takes […] Continue »
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam is a moving and intimate portrait of a man caught up in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Set in and around a refugee camp, this debut novel offers a peek into just a few short days of Dinesh’s life. Arudpragasm delves deep into this one man’s thought process, drawing it out in eloquent and elegant prose. Moments that take but a few seconds traverse multiple pages, yet the book does not feel […] Continue »
Jade Chang’s novel The Wangs vs. The World follows one crazy Chinese American family as they try to piece their lives back together after the economic recession of 2008. Mr. Charles Wang is a self-made man who immigrated from Taiwan and made a fortune with his beauty product empire. But a series of bad choices leaves him completely emptied out (house and cars included). His family, including his second wife and three (almost all) adult children […] Continue »
Aubergine, a new play written by Julia Cho, opens today at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Running through October 2, it’s an emotional story about family, death, and food. Ray’s father is home on hospice with his son Ray, a first-generation Korean American chef, who is struggling with how to manage and how to cope. To notify his father’s brother, he calls on his ex-girlfriend Cornelia to tell him in Korean. When his uncle unexpectedly shows up with a soup recipe, […] Continue »
It has been a good summer for fun-loving, ass-kicking Asian American superheroines, and if you’re not already, get on board for C.B. Lee’s Not Your Sidekick. Its biggest flaw? Being the first in the series, leaving us on the edge waiting to find out what happens to Jessica Tran (I did not realize I was getting myself into a cliffhanger until I was off the cliff and there were no pages left). Jessica is the daughter of mid-class […] Continue »
Conflict with a child can be painful to deal with for any parent – for an Asian American parent, when the conflict stems around one’s ethnic Asian background, it can be extra painful. If that child’s life is cut short by a drunk driver before that conflict is resolved, the pain must be unimaginable. Paul Li was put into that situation. But instead of retreating from the world, he did two things to try to […] Continue »
Green Card: A New Musical takes on immigrant artists and the American dream in a new musical from young director Dimo Kim. Playing at Theatre at St. Clement’s until August 26, it focuses on the story of Han, an actor and a South Korean immigrant living in Harlem with an expired visa who, as a result, can’t find work. And because he can’t find work, he can’t get an artists visa. Hijinks ensue. Han finds […] Continue »
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