CUNY’s legacy, the limits and violence of Asian American success stories, and what’s at stake in the fight for accessible public education
Against the hills, a tall building with plank-walled rooms. / I, wishing for my wife and son like clouds far away, / My night is even longer under the bright moon.
We’re now accepting submissions to a new special issue of The Margins.
Celebrate our third class of Margins fellows—Mariam Bazeed, Rami Karim, Kyle Lucia Wu, and Yanyi—and hear them read with mentors Alexander Chee, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Rachel Zucker.
June brings the poetry of the Sri Lankan long durée, South Korean domestic thrillers, number one Chinese restaurants, and new myths of old Morocco.
The moon appears / the small clip of a nail a paring knife / a chalk mark / left to linger in the sky
The author of Carceral Capitalism talks predictive policing, the limits of appeals to innocence, and the price of prisons.
We prayed for resurrections, / but the dead remain as memories that / seemed to shrink in the mind, / like an airplane appearing smaller / the further it gets from the ground.
I should say kholo, my mother’s brother. / I should say umja, my father’s brother / so you know which branch of the tree to cut. Or / cherish.
Religious supremacy, colonial erasure’s legacies, and seventy years of Palestinian resistance to occupation.
These four writers will spend the next year writing fiction about Iraq beyond war, creative nonfiction on diasporic women’s silences around trauma, memoir about legacies of abuse and the Cultural Revolution, and poetry of displacement and loss.
Margaret Rhee, Ching-In Chen, Seo-Young Chu and Mimi Mondal explore the intersections of love, race, and technology in their writing.
These are all birth stories, but I will not tell you mine.
Pipedream: / I wondered what it would be like to strip away / slit eyes—sick of assimilation; the debilitating / task of tireless reinvention.
May brings Bollywood love poems, Hawaiian gothic fiction, and the literary legacy of indentured labor in the Caribbean.
Janice Lobo Sapigao, Raquel Salas Rivera and Adeeba Talukder remix translation through love letters, laws, and binary code.
The artist and writer behind South/South talks experiments in social fiction, sharing the secrets of strangers, and writing fictional telegrams by Luis Buñuel.
When I was born, my parents put me on a rug on the ground and stood / staring at me until the light outside dimmed and then there in the / darkening we three were quiet for a while
How the Japanese American poet, art critic, and performer helped shape Modernist poetry as he brought Japanese poetic forms into English
Confronting whiteness, the ghazal as an elegy to queerness, and talking to Valeria Luiselli about American immigration policy.
Belladonna* Collaborative, Brooklyn Public Library and Asian American Writer’s Workshop are proud to co-present Abdellah Taïa in conversation with poet and scholar Meena Alexander.
The author of America is Not the Heart talks commemorating the mundane in fiction, writing about working class queer women, and re-claiming the Bay Area in her novel.
Journalist Jennifer Crandall is re-claiming Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” through the voices and stories of the South.
I could live like this, I thought, lie here / and have my own kind of drifting blue.
That was the ﬁrst time I knew that there must have been others out there, just like me, who were sad and lonely and just wanted some kind of beauty in their lives and maybe for a boy to love them.
April brings post-Fukushima dystopias, memoirs of the writing life, post-modern meditations on alienation, mythic novels of the Iranian revolution, and more.
The author of Though I Get Home talks writing against censorship, non-traditional “immigrant stories,” and writing a novel to think through her life.
We wonder if this is what heaven is like—an old movie theater with thick velvet curtains that part, as the lights dim and the naked cherubs peering down from the blue and gold ceiling vanish, like comets.
Vi Khi Nao, Brandon Shimoda and Celina Su grasp at a new vocabulary for grief, placelessness, and healing in their poetry.
I want to make / change and am ready / for new challenge. / I can stay between white white lines.
The Hong Kong poet talks the Umbrella movement, being an outsider and an insider in Hong Kong, and how she translates the world.
Văn An had neglected ritual, not realizing that this was a land now full of ghosts left too long unmoored. That there might be consequences for forgetting to fear.
I dream my mother / unravels / hair out of my mouth / in English / she asks me / to speak Chinese / coils the hair / into a dark gloss / whorled / in her palm
Hard to tell from your / Silence where you’re taking me. / But I’m guessing / It’s loin-deep in the place / Where they’re collapsing / Entire cosmologies into pulp and paper.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Karissa Chen, Wendy Xu, Gina Apostol, Chaya Babu, and Alexander Chee joined us at AAWW to celebrate Go Home!
The author of Curry talks forced nostalgia, the commodification of curry, and playing with the tropes of South Asian literature.
I saw him before he saw me, staring off at a distant point. When he fixed on my face as I crossed the yellow lawn, he recognized me and grinned.
How do I tell you that I have done this before? / How to build a diorama of what I am not.
March is a month packed with Southern gothics, Partition diaries, postcards from the future, and books that re-map the universe.
The floor broke apart / the tasbeeh into ninety / nine beady reflections / and my mother is still / able to fake a surprise / when she can’t locate / them all.
I keep the butts of my clove cigarettes in a candy tin. I pound it shut, hide it away. So it stays a secret.
Bob Dylan in China, womanhood beyond identity politics, and toughing it out in Cairo.
Writers Weike Wang and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi read and discuss their compelling and unusual coming-of-age novels with Madhu Kaza.
I am the last of them—a woman with her own dreams, not salvaged from the cloud-based data lake that I created.
I remember exactly where I was when I found out Ren Hang killed himself.
We’ve put together a round-up of books inspired by Go Home!, our new anthology of new Asian diasporic writing.
The Shanghai Literary Review editors and contributors talk about their creative process, translingual practice, and literary journal publication.
Satyam was all alone in a strange town with no one to ask for help. His family had made a mistake. They had been greedy. They wanted too much for their own good.
Writers Yang Huang and Kirstin Chen talk histories of the Cultural revolution, betrayal, and the importance of craft
One lover was bold and touched / me once behind a door, but it was her cousin / Vandie, the one who never looked at me, that I loved. // One lover was kind, so kind, in kissing / me at all.
Against the mainstream imaginary of North Korea as irretrievably unknowable, Krys Lee and Barbara Demick discuss what it means to tell and imagine stories from there.
The American War author and journalist talks climate change fiction, writing in the age of Trump, and reinventing America in his novel.
Older immigrants talk as if Reagan invited them to dinner. / The dream never showed, but we can paint chain link white.
The making of a Muslim intellectual, remembering Asma Jahangir, and the urbanization of Chinese fiction.
She felt her frozen image splitting, cracking a webbed pattern over her. She fell like shards of ice and glass sprinkling, twinkling, and shattering like diamond rain upon her mother.
Writers Gayle Romasanta and Dawn Mabalon are on a mission to write the first Filipino American history book for children.
They might spend most of their days in the sky, / but every evening they remember / to come back to earth.
Li-Young Lee grapples with God, Kim Fu goes to summer camp, Krystal A. Sital uncovers family secrets, and more.
Hala Alyan, Hayan Charara and Marwa Helal explore the boundaries between personal and political, as well as what a home looks like amidst conditions of war and displacement.
I lay my head down on a pillow pilled / with characters, yellow tracks and traces / of the name I was given.
The doll stares at its owner, eyes sparkling with cruelty. It wakes the baby up, hands her the toy block. The baby, as though possessed, crams the toy in her mouth.
In their new poetry collections, Chen Chen and Eunsong Kim offer up new possibilities for kinship and survival.
Remembering the Pulse nightclub shooting, Liu Jian’s latest film, the coded gaze of art history, and more. We also continue our Black History Month series.
The author of Everything Here is Beautiful speaks about sisterhood, refusing categorization, and writing about mental health.
The usual / drama of chiaroscuro, / how it begins / in medias res for the sake / of the viewer.
I am tempted to reframe the flashing atrocities of memory and imbue them with significance—to stave off the cold trickle of fear like germs in the abstract.
Black History Month, the value of remembering, and the often silent heroism of existence.
Margo Jefferson, Hari Kunzru, and Kevin Nguyen talk cultural appropriation, how race haunts America, and pop music’s complicated legacies.
Dina Nayeri, Rami Karim, Alia Malek, and Roja Heydarpour discuss the complex nature of home: a place that elusively remains in flux through return and exile.
Viet Dinh, Oki Sogumi and Janani Balasubramanian talk about care work and connections amidst premonitions of disaster and ecological collapse.
For some reason, all of Warhol’s portraits show Mao from an angle that reveals only one of the Chairman’s ears.
The author of Chemistry talks mad scientists, model minority, and defending your imagination as a writer of color.
Studio Era music makes me want to dress fancy and pretty; leave the house in gorgeous armor, but I know too well the earth’s hunger and I will not satisfy it. Today I leave my house and I make sure no one can call me faggot.
Three NYC imams, the Aegean sea, and one writer’s passage toward a new relation to faith
Radical Taiwanese American poetry, Yasunari Kawabata’s final manuscript, a novel of the Sri Lankan refugee crisis, and more.
Can Xue, the foremost—and coolest—writer of the Chinese avant-garde makes a rare appearance in New York alongside Porochista Khakpour.
Do you want to write while developing a community of writers of color? We’re offering master classes and multi-session workshops from nine talented instructors.
but really every word sounds like the sun/ sweltering in the middle of Santacruzan
Half-punk, half-easy listening, half-anti-authoritarian troublemaker, half-cheesy lounge music wannabe, how straddling two cultures has shaped my creative life
Love poems by Li-Young Lee, Belal Mobarak re-maps Queens in poetry, and Nuar Alsadi stands at the peephole.
Poets Jane Wong, Carlina Duan, Christine Shan Shan Hou, and Muriel Leung explore the ways histories impact the work of Asian American writing across time and space.
Two Durham-based activists talk about pulling down Confederate statues, the poetry of displacement and war, and the sustained work behind every protest
Having two eyes prevents us from simplifying things, from seeing everything around us two-dimensionally. I guess you could say that seeing through two eyes is what makes us human.
I was her American / daughter, my tongue / my hardest muscle / forced to swallow / a muddy alphabet.
The Chinese novelist in exile, the impossibility of authenticity in immigrant lit, Kristi Yamaguchi, unlaced, and more.
The world held us / In glass circles
My child, we all become white-haired soon enough.
This was the first time he had seen so many exiled Tibetans of his own flesh and blood in a foreign land. Though they were only a few feet away, it was as if they were separated by ranges of mountains.
From Anelise Chen’s experimental autofiction to Bao Phi’s explosive poetry, the AAWW staff shares their favorite books they read in 2017
What gets lost in translation in the myth of American benevolence during the Korean War
i have seen the line at the bottom of sky crack glimmers of clear light
Poet Chen Chen talks finding your family, queer Asian American poetry, and Journey to the West.
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Zain Alam, Yunique A. Saafir, and Muna Mire investigate the ways young Muslims fight state power.
Think about it: if rain accumulating above someone / resumes descent, where does it fall?
Janice Lee on becoming the badger, Navneet Alang on baby names, new hopes, and familial history, Maya Mackrandilal on culture shaping art.
I tell C no one loves me like a mother would. / C says no one loves a fragile queer. I choke / on the thread as it slices words out:/ Say Ma say Mother America say Mother India say love me like a mother won’t.
From its very beginning this story is fated to be exposed by the light.
In an increasingly divided world, translated literature brings us closer together. As the year draws to a close, we asked some of our favorite writers, editors, and translators for their recommendations.
Leftist Singaporean fiction, experimental love poems to robots, reimagining the Vietnam War, and more.
Patrick Rosal, Bao Phi, and Sokunthary Svay confront nationalist mythology with lyrical odes to the America we struggle against, and the one being built through struggle.
‘These were / all the gold coins that he laid by in a life of poverty, / saved up in the vault of his mind’
I remember / 亲爱的 / back then / how you robed / yourself in tall grass / & earthed your flesh / how your waiting / shrunk soldiers’ bayonets
Comedian Aparna Nancherla talks standup, battling anxiety, and pushing the envelope as a woman of color in comedy
Animals are strangely perceptive—in their instinct to survive, they find a home
‘What I / am—I’ve gone further than gambling, drug addiction, death— / I’ve killed the image of her daughter.’
Nobody can stop things if they want to go back to their roots.
A quest for Armenian coffee in the inauguration’s aftermath led one writer to ask, how much of ourselves do we need to let go in order to see ourselves in others?
Paisley Rekdal, Yanyi and Soyoung Yoon bring together nonfiction, brain science, trauma theory, poetry, and data visualization together to explore intergenerational trauma.
Cixin Liu on first contact, Viet Thanh Nguyen on Thanksgiving, the future of Mission Chinese, and new fiction from Rachel Khong.
When the tide rises, it is easy for the fish to prey on the ant, but when it ebbs, the fish becomes the ant’s prey.
‘Shayan closed his eyes and played for a couple of minutes. His touch was impeccable. His timing was flawless. His body movements were graceful. He ended on a C flat with his eyes still closed.’
Kimiko Hahn speaks on Asian American Acitivism; Kazim Ali confronts political grabs in poetry.
All my early life was tied up in tales of nasi goreng.
‘Mine: thick & black, so coarse / when trimmed, the ends splintered / bare feet.’
That American thing · The good old good
Is it possible to write about travel while decolonizing the narrative?
Suppressed sexual violence in the name of revolution lay in the abyss of our consciousness.
Diversity in publishing, the lost history of comfort women, and Karen Tei Yamashita on her family history.
M. Evelina Galang tells the story of sixteen surviving Filipino comfort women in her new book, Lola’s House.
A graphic history of the American surveillance state, Illokano love poems, the imagined correspondence between Miguel Cervantes and Chinese Ming Emperor Wanli, and more.
Funny how it ends up that you’re the leftovers.
The masjid wasn’t even close to finished, but our fathers were starting from the top and were building their way down.
The literature of Arab dictators, Asian futurism, and America’s forgotten TV chef, Joyce Chen.
Young-ha Kim, one of the most talented and prolific Korean writers of his generation, made a rare appearance in New York to celebrate the launch of his latest novel, I Hear Your Voice.
The feeling of being claimed is halfway to feeling home, even if on the inside I’ve often felt like I didn’t quite belong.
They always had us at hello, the Americans.
‘Which poem can defeat / the fear of dying / a meaningless death / and how to write that poem / staring into the barrel?’
Patty Yumi Cottrell on the abyss, Leland Cheuk on battling cancer, and former Margins fellow Wo Chan on fashion and the body.
Danzy Senna and Katie Kitamura take on marriage and use it to hold a mirror to our turbulent emotional realities in their new novels.
Pray tell me, how much
are we paying for the sermon?
The gentrification of punk, Anelise Chen on her grandmother’s ghost, Jonathan Saha on the dangers of excluding Rohingya Muslims from their own identity, and more.
The author of A Good Country talks about the final novel in her Kurdish trilogy, tribal longing, and the work that entertaining literature does
Movimiento Cosecha organizers talk about life after DACA, vulnerability, and a border-traversing undocumented Spiderman
‘As if I could get un-situated / this airport a bubble hovering / in a void between celestial bodies / in but not of / the country I stand in.’
‘I ventured out one morning and, from the lawn, I stared at all of the green beaks. I tried to count all of them but there were more buried, slumbering birds in our garden than I knew numbers for. And I remembered how in winter they left us and the air was so quiet and empty.’
Through stories, essays, and poems, writers imagine new narratives that speak to Trump’s Muslim ban
Kamila Shamsie and Hirsh Sawney take on private grief in today’s political landscape in their new novels.
Asian American cyborg poetry, a rewriting of the historical legacies of the Vietnam War, reissues of Karen Tei Yamashita’s groundbreaking novels, and more from Asian diasporic writers this month.
showbiz etceteras · commercial spaces · newspapered ideas
On Marie Kondo and the painful joy of preserving family history
We don’t know what we need because we don’t know who we are. We don’t know who we are because we don’t remember who we were.
Kimiko Hahn, Monica Youn, Sally Wen Mao and Emily Yoon joined us for a night of poetry.
The author of Sour Heart talks about channeling childhood in her fiction, balancing the soft with the scratchy in her stories, and getting tokenized as an Asian American writer.
In the wake of the end of DACA, we’re sharing poems, essays and stories written for and about undocumented immigrants.
People judge me by my skin. My skin’s purpose in life is to prove them wrong.
Akhil Sharma and Kanishk Tharoor speak with Meera Nair about their celebrated short story collections.
The author of Goodbye, Vitamin talks about writing her first novel, charting lost memories, and bridging a life in fiction with a life of one’s own.
This week’s articles are about the current U.S. political climate–but don’t worry, we have some new tunes for you to enjoy, too!
Patty Yumi Cottrell, Eugene Lim and Anelise Chen take on the life-killing forces of capitalism, the political status quo, and suicide in their new novels.
This summer brings new Asian diasporic retellings of Antigone, the unlikely hero’s journey of an Asian American boy and his mecha, and a hybrid poetics of Japan’s violent history.
How the fight against displacement calls for New York City’s Asian immigrant communities to defect from the “model minority” narrative.
There are countless ways / to justify company. Hunger, overdue balance, whatever. / Cartoon savage licking the throne clean. / & isn’t that what you always wanted? / To be filled & emptied?
Writers Q.M. Zhang and lê th? di?m thúy speak with Hua Hsu about their fragmented, hybrid works that explore themes of immigration, grief, and fatherhood.
Anelise Chen’s latest mollusk column, the painful search for Asian American identity, “anti-blah” writing and more are featured in this week’s link roundup.
In all the books I love, the hero doesn’t strike first. But then again, none of the heroes look like me.
The writer talks about her new memoir, Olive Witch, subverting her identity, and the tenuous link between memory and writing.
Novelist Shanthi Sekaran speaks with Race Forward’s Rinku Sen and Kavita Das about how our immigration system threatens families of color
Half a century on, what does it mean to be part of ASEAN?
Writers Gina Apostol, Ninotchka Rosca, Alex Gilvarry and Melissa R. Sipin joined us for a celebration of legendary Filipino writer Nick Joaquin
For eleven / years I lied about where I’m from, / ashamed by the music of endings, // that deep hollow bell. How much of my yearly / tax is spent to bomb the dirt / that birthed me?, is a question // I never wanted to consider.
Rahul Mehta and SJ Sindu read from their debut novels, Marriage of a Thousand Lies and No Other World
On data, food, and criticality under capitalism and the State.
Reads that encourage us to resist complacency and keep searching for new ways of thinking and being in the world–all in the name of self-determination.
Ashok speaks to Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto about her new creative endeavors, Tokyo versus New York, and what gets lost in translation.
Lisa Ko reads from her debut novel; Ed Lin and Jade Sharma read their stories of Asians who don’t fit the model minority stereotype.
What the parallels between the violent murders of The Walking Dead’s Glenn Rhee and Vincent Chin tell us about being Asian in America.
On building bridges in liminal spaces, and carving new pathways through the unknown.
‘Children are playing soldier. / Fetuses ripped from wombs dangle / in nearby trees. Yet he opened his mouth / and a flood of love melodies poured out.’
On accountability – as readers, writers, and members of society.
Watch Thi Bui read an excerpt from her illustrated memoir The Best We Can Do with the help of some audience members.
pink spam injected into the bloodstream / won’t make one minnesotan, / the difference of an exporter and importer, / colonizer and the colonized with a nine digit ssn
Thirty five years ago, Asian America’s faith in the justice system was shaken. Have we forgotten the lesson?
This month in Asian diasporic lit brings new queer desi stories, “badass letters to comicdom,” and love songs from down and out Asian American country music stars.
Writers Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Violet Kupersmith, and T Kira Madden speak to each other about mixed-race identities in life and literature
Marwa Helal reads two poems at the Workshop, including her paen to the Palestinian American rapper DJ Khaled.
On mollusks, writing craft, and writing against whiteness.
Every spring, a deer must shed antlers used for fighting and each bone branch grows back with the thought of my partner’s return this season, and yet.
The writer and teacher speaks on navigating Mississippi’s racial politics and his experience in public education as “forged in violence.”
The poet talks about her debut collection, sharing silenced histories in her writing, and being a “wild girl poet.”
The two poets talk about their literary family trees, poetry as a protective force, and the changing landscape for Muslim American writers.
‘In my sleep, I dreamt of how terrible it would be to not find my way home.’
but this is boring. let’s talk / about something else. people are only lines / written with water it’s not that serious. i just want to drink / my coffee. i just want to think about roses i misheard / the words as a laugh, beautiful like a song of roses
May brings in queer Taiwanese cult classics, erotic manga and the fictional saga of a Palestinian family through the years.
‘This drought of silence / that does not feed me. I mean, I refuse / to hold his vanity. And demand to know / myself better. Cull his soul but only / for memory, carve a history / for myself in which my reflection / alone can be seen.’
The author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace reflects on writing out of desperation, Fiona Apple, and the novel as a ghostly space.
Before I could go back to the Philippines in real life, I did so on paper, through my first novel.
I meant / to just take a photo of you. Forgive // my trespasses, my negatives, / but remember them. My ghosts // were asked to lay in their bed, / and so said: I am not like them // I am not. This is the blood I’ll leave / behind on bark to bark.
At this point I will disobey and say / you are free to go if you choose. Choice is a complicated part of describing / Palestinian heroes or terrorists.
The award-winning writer talks about her new acclaimed short story collection, the anxiety of exile, and figuring out which narrative you belong to.
Oh Mars, you mistook me / for someone / I briefly was. / Girl alight / with impending loss, / vessel for bearing / out an arch / -itectural illusion. A wall / isn’t truly built / to exclude, but to instate / something worth defending.
Ashok Kondabolu speaks to Vijay Iyer about an alternate history of jazz, opening institutional spaces, and the resistance and defiance within music.
‘No words of a Savior are news to a Woman. / No words of a resurrection sound gospel[-enough] / when you are both the Crucifixion and the Crowd.’
Three generations of Cambodian women in my family wrestle with the inherited trauma of the Khmer Rouge
Scotch-taped at the mirrors’ edges were photographs of birthdays, family vacations, running in the rain. Their edges had curled from sixteen years of steam from hot showers and baths.
‘Skin molted like a lazy adder/while sinew pooled like glue.//Bone fractured next/like desert rose glass/then melted too.’
April’s releases by Asian diasporic writers include new works from Samrat Upadhyay, Durga Chew-Bose, and Mai Der Vang.
A local art exhibit turns a feminist gaze on Muslim and Sikh women’s head coverings.
A day without a hate crime, Asian-American activism in 1970s Los Angeles, worlds made possible by the NEA
‘We do not want to hover like a line of fog, a river’s shadow, but slower: shadows in conversation, gentle only when we don’t bother expecting to be heard.’
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee talks about her new memoir, the restorative power of writing, the doubling that haunts her life, and why Slaughterhouse-Five is a permanent part of her mind.