Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
March Bookmarks: 18 New Books by Asian Writers

March is a month packed with Southern gothics, Partition diaries, postcards from the future, and books that re-map the universe.

By Yasmin Adele Majeed
Marginalia | March 2018, Roundup, bookmarks
March 21, 2018

The Affliction by C Dale Young

A novel-in-stories set across the Americas and the Caribbean, poet C Dale Young’s first novel, The Affliction, draws on fantasy and history to uncover the stories of “disappeared” people in Latin America. Women look into the future, one man disappears into thin air, another loses the ability to speak after his brother dies. (Four Way Books, March 6)





Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Singaporean writer Clarissa Goenawan’s debut novel Rainbirds begins with Ren Ishida, a graduate student on the cusp of graduation, receiving the news that his sister has been violently murdered. Beset with nightmares of a young girl and haunted by the mystery of his sister’s death, Ren is drawn into her life and the secrets that she kept from him. Eka Kurniawan called Rainbirds, “a beautiful mystery setup with a complex, magical love story.” (Soho Press, March 6)




Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

After the death of her mother, Poornima is left taking care of her brothers and sisters until her father arranges a marriage for her. When she meets Savitha, their friendship opens up her world beyond being a sister and a wife. But when Savitha leaves their village, Poornima goes on a journey that takes her through India’s underworld and to the US to find her friend. “An unbelievably beautiful and harrowing story of friendship and devotion,” Girls Burn Brighter is Rao’s first novel. (Flatiron Books, March 6)




Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang

“How does it feel to be routinely dehumanized and exploited by the police?” asks Jackie Wang in her highly anticipated new collection of essays on the contemporary carceral state. Wang combines scholarly research with literary experiment in her writing on the limits of liberalism, credit scores, RoboCop, and algorithmic policing. (Semiotexte, March 13)




Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems by Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah’s anticipated second collection of poems is in turns brutal and beautiful. The Iraq War, illuminated texts, and childhood accidents are brought together in these “striking, insightful poems.” You can read an interview with Faizullah on The Margins. (Graywolf, March 6)





Inquisition by Kazim Ali

The poems in Kazim Ali’s latest collection combine lyrics, fragments, prose poems and spoken word in order to consider the role of the poet in times of social upheaval. Inquisition “read[s] like visions through fog, among them a dream of swimming from a shipwreck, a parable about an astronomer, and lyrical investigations into the utility of art.” You can read an interview with Kazim Ali on The Margins. (March 6, Wesleyan)




Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah

Fady Joudah’s Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance contains “love poems to the lovely and unlovely, the loved and unloved.” Writing tenderly about desire, death, and history, Joudah also includes his collaboration with the Kurdish Syrian writer Golan Haji in the middle section of the book. (Milkweed, March 13)






Deport, Deprive, Extradite: 21st Century State Extremism by Nisha Kapoor

Nisha Kapoor’s ambitious, incisive look at the modern security state begins with the stories of five men extradited from the UK to America on terror charges who were incarcerated for up to seventeen years. Deport, Deprive, Extradite is “a searing indictment of the expansive securitizing state and the racially driven authoritarianism out of which it grows and which it reinforces.” (Verso Books, March 27)




The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser

The celebrated Sri Lankan Australian writer Michelle de Kretser returns with The Life to Come, a novel-in-stories that takes place in in multiple countries. In Australia, a writer deals with her anxieties over missing out on life. In France, a woman falls in love with a married man. And in Sri Lanka, a young woman is offered a way out of her life and the opportunity to start anew in Australia. “A writer of unsentimental humanity,” de Kretser is the author of six other novels, including the Man Booker Prize-longlisted The Lost Dog. (Catapult, March 13)




Not My White Savior by Julayne Lee

In Julayne Lee’s memoir-in-poems, the writer considers the impossibilities of origins as a Korean adoptee raised by a white family. Lee moves from Korea to Minnesota to Los Angeles in this frank and provocative exploration of transracial adoption. (Rare Bird Books, March 13)





We Play a Game by Duy Doan

The winner of the 2017 Yale Series of Younger Poet’s prize, Duy Doan’s We Play a Game is a playful, complex collection that deftly pulls together personal history, the fantastic, and pop culture. War games, strategies for survival, and the made-up play of children compose this “meditation on… childhood, history, culture.” You can read two poems from the collection on The Margins. (Yale UP, March 20)




The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

In Emily X.R. Pan’s “inventive and heart-wrenching debut,” The Astonishing Color of After, a teenage girl grapples with loss, identity, and falling in love. Struggling with her mother’s suicide, Leigh Chen Sanders travels to Taiwan to meet her mother’s family for the first time, and to try to find the bird that she believes her mother turned into after she died. (Little Brown YA, March 20)





Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Boy meets girl meets internet in Mary HK Choi’s debut YA novel, Emergency Contact. Penny leaves behind her home and friends to go to school in Texas, where she meets Sam, who hates his dead-end coffee shop job—which is also where he lives, sleeping in one of the empty storage rooms. Their friendship starts out awkward, but soon they are texting each other every day, close in every way but IRL. You can read an conversation with Choi and Ashok Kondabolu on The Margins. (Simon & Schuster YA, March 24)





The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Veera Hiranandani’s The Night Diary follows the diary of a young girl torn apart and displaced during Partition. Half-Muslim and half-Hindu Nisha and her father leave India for Pakistan, setting off on a journey where their homeland and family are lost irrevocably. A coming-of-age story set in the midst of Independence and the violent end of colonial rule in South Asia, The Night Diary is “a gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults.” (March 6, Dial Books)




Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirsten Chen

Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, Kirsten Chen’s “incredibly moving” Bury What We Cannot Take follows one family as they navigate loyalty to their country and their family, taking them on a journey from Drum Wave Islet to Hong Kong. You can read an interview with Chen on The Margins. (Little A, March 20)





The Beekeeper: Saving the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail

Iraqi journalist Dunya Mikhail shares the stories of Yazidi women living in northern Iraq who were kidnapped by ISIS and forcibly enslaved, and the beekeeper who smuggled them, one-by-one, to safety. “Powerful and heartbreaking,” The Beekeeper, “lets the survivors tell their stories and highlights the courage of those risking their lives to rescue others.” (New Directions, March 27)





Let’s No One Get Hurt by Jon Pineda

The Southern Gothic meets Huck Finn in Jon Pineda’s new novel, Let’s No One Get Hurt. Teenaged Pearl squats in an abandoned boat house with her father, his friends and their dog, Marianne Moore. They scavenge for food and scraps, forming a makeshift, mostly happy family living on the edges of the city. But their unconventional idyll is interrupted by Main Boy, whose relationship with Pearl hurtles them towards devastation. “Pineda has a poet’s eye for the details of this vivid, haunting landscape, and he brings it blazingly to life,” writes Jenny Offill. (March 20, FSG)



The Place Between Breaths by An Na

Grace is only a child when her mother, who struggled with schizophrenia for most of her life, disappears. Refusing to give up on searching for her, Grace’s father dedicates himself to finding the cure for the disease. When Grace interns at the lab with him she stumbles upon a breakthrough that could help her find her mother, but at the risk of her own mental health. “Suffused with beauty and terror,” The Place Between Breaths is An Na’s fourth novel. (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, March 27)