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.
June 21, 2017
Summer is here, which means it’s time to stock up on for the best kind of heat relief: reading indoors. Don Lee’s literary love song to country music, Eugene Lim’s novel mix of comic books and literary experimentation, SJ Sindu’s queer desi coming of age story all provide welcome respite from the sun. Keep reading for more new and notable releases from Asian diasporic writers.
Pop Vérité by R Zamora Linmark
“Pen, paper, pinched nerve.” Filipino American writer R Zamora Linmark’s Pop Vérité is a poetic journey through the writer’s mind and life in Paris, as he makes his way through lovers, literature, art and language. “The spirit of these poems, bracing, great-hearted and unafraid, gives me hope for the future,” wrote Amy Gerstler of Linmark’s fourth poetry collection.
(May 24, Hanging Loose Press)
Lonesome Lies Before Us by Don Lee
Yadin Park is a down and out former alt-country singer whose career gets cut short by an inner-ear disorder. Now approaching middle age and working for a gardening contractor in Northern California, he gets one last chance at music and fame when his former lover and musician shows up in town. “A unique love song in a minor key,” Lonesome Lies Before Us is Don Lee’s third novel. (June 6, Norton)
ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino, trans. Charles De Wolf
Inspired by a common phone scam in Japan, ME is a speculative fiction novel about identity fraud gone wrong. When Hitoshi Nagano steals another young man’s identity in order to scam the man’s mother, his deception takes a bizarre turn when the mother shows up at his home, really believing Hitoshi to be her son. His own parents no longer recognize him, forcing Hitoshi to embrace his new identity and into a “surreal exploration of the darkest self-reflexive tendencies of this modern moment.” (June 6, Akashic Books)
Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim
Eugene Lim’s third novel Dear Cyborgs is a “mad badass letter to comicdom” that ties together two stories: the childhood friendship between two Asian American boys in the midwest who bond over their love comic books and an alternate universe where two superheroes hold philosophical conversations between jobs on political activist Richard Aoki, Occupy Wall Street, and also sing karaoke. Kirkus Reviews called it an “entertaining reflection on art, resistance, heroes, and villains.” (June 6, FSG)
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
“A funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents,” Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows the independent Nikki, a law school dropout turned bartender who has disgraced her traditional Sikh family. When Nikki returns to her Punjabi community to teach a creative writing course for Sikh widows, she gets more than she expected when the class becomes an erotic storytelling class. Her relationships with the widows and the mystery behind the death of a community leader’s rebellious daughter forces Nikki deeper into a community and culture she thought she left behind. (June 13, William Morrow)
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu
SJ Sindu’s debut novel is a queer immigrant love story about being caught between your own desires and your family’s. Lucky and her husband Krishna are married, but they’re both secretly gay. When Lucky goes back home to visit her conservative Sri Lankan American family, she runs into her childhood love, Nisha, setting off a story about “a young woman longing for love and tradition… even as she defies expectations and navigates her own paths.” (June 13, Soho Press)
The Windfall by Diksha Basu
A comedy of manners set in Delhi, Diksha Basu’s The Windfall is about a middle-aged couple whose rapid rise to the Indian upper class changes the lives of their family and new neighbors in surprising ways. Basu’s debut is equal parts social critique and heartfelt family drama. (June 27, Crown)
Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies edited by Joanne L. Rondilla, Rudy P. Guevarra Jr., & Paul Spickard
A collection of personal history and academic analysis, Red and Yellow, Black and Brown examines what it means to be mixed race for those who are not part white. Containing essays on mixed race families, Indipino identity in the Bay Area, and multicultural communities in Baja California Red and Yellow, Black and Brown “signals the exciting start of a new third wave in mixed race studies.” (June 26, Rutgers University Press)