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November Bookmarks: 13 New Books by Asian Diasporic Writers

Leftist Singaporean fiction, experimental love poems to robots, reimagining the Vietnam War, and more.

By Yasmin Majeed



Joseph O Legaspi Threshold by Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi writes about the  in-between and border crossing in Threshold, his latest poetry collection. “These exquisite poems invite us to cross into the “periphery / of sanctuary and danger,” farther into the rooms of family and culture, in order to find nourishment in breath, beauty, desire, and love,” writes Rigoberto González. A co-founder of Kundiman, Legaspi is also the author of the collection Imago and Subways, a chapbook. You can read more of Legaspi’s poetry on The Margins

(Cavankerry Press, October 3)

Sahar Muradi
[ G A T E S ] by Sahar Muradi

“The political act of poetry in this fierce collection is a pained beauty that does not look away as it rebuilds the human starting with the heart,” writes Rajiv Mohabir of Sahar Muradi’s new chapbook, [ G A T E S ].  Muradi, a former Open City Fellow, writes about occupied Afghanistan, drawing together the intimacies and pain of war and family. [ G A T E S ] is her first chapbook.

(Black Lawrence Press, October 24)

Barbara Jane Reyes
Invocation to Daughters by Barbara Jane Reyes

“Daughters, let us create a language so that we know ourselves, so that we may sing, and tell, and pray,” writes Barbara Jane Reyes in Invocation to Daughters, her latest poetry collection. Combining Spanish, English, and Tagalog, Reyes’s fiery poems are a “a call to arms against oppressive languages, systems, and traditions, all that “strips us of our kick and grit.”” (City Lights Press, November 1)




Margaret Rhee
Love, Robot by Margaret Rhee

Margaret Rhee’s experimental poetry collection, Love, Robot, rewrites the human and robot, combining algorithmic code, the sonnet form and love poetry to loop together artificial intelligence and desire. “In a paradoxical and wonderful way, Margaret Rhee’s robot love affairs make us rethink what it might mean to be human,” writes Viet Thanh Nguyen. (The Operating System, November 7)




Gurjinder Basran
Someone You Love is Gone by Gurjinder Basran

Simran, the “feisty, complicated, and irrepressible heroine” of Gurjinder Basran’s second novel, is haunted by the end of her marriage and the ghost of her recently deceased mother, forcing her to grapple with her complicated family history. Jumping between Simran’s present day and her mother’s youth in 1960’s India, Someone You Love is Gone explores the ways grief and heartbreak travel through generations and across borders. (Harper Perennial, November 7)





Inheriting the War
Inheriting the War: Poetry and Prose by Descendants of Vietnam War Veterans and Refugees edited by Laren McClung
This unprecedented and ambitious anthology brings together contemporary writing by descendants of Vietnam war veterans and refugees, including Ocean Vuong, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Cathy Linh Che, and Terrance Hayes. Edited by Laren McClung, Inheriting the War re-tells the story of the Vietnam War “through some daring and passionate truths calibrated by bravery.” (WW Norton, Nov 7)




These Violent Delights
These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung

In Victoria Namkung’s latest a group of former students at an elite private school work with an investigative journalist to take down a beloved teacher and sexual predator who preys on young female students. A story of revenge, trauma, and the difficult search for justice in cases of sexual abuse, These Violent Delights is Namkung’s second novel. (Griffith Moon, Nov 7)





Divya Victor
Kith by Divya Victor

Divya Victor’s new book explores what it means to “belong” in South Asian diasporic communities. Looking beyond the limits of national boundaries, Victor combines autobiography and poetry to write about exile, globalization, and race. “Part-anthem, part-instruction manual, part-memoir, part-dictionary,” writes Amitava Kumar of Kith. “This text offers testimony to other ways of being and remembering, a reflection on forgotten lives.” (Nov 7, Fence Books)




I Wore My Blackest Hair
I Wore My Blackest Hair by Carlina Duan

“[Hers] is a voice that… sings, and bites, and invites you to soften long enough to be astonished,” writes Franny Choi of Carlina Duan, whose debut poetry collection I Wore My Blackest Hair considers the “difficult truths” of Chinese American girlhood. (Little A, Nov 14)





Eileen Chong
Another Language by Eileen Chong, ed. Paul Kane

Writer Eileen Chong is the sixth poet, and the first Asian Australian writer, to be featured in the Braziller Series of Australian Poets, which collects selected work from emerging writers. “Chong’s work offers a poetry of feeling, rendered in luminous detail and language, alive to the sorrows and joys of daily living,” writes Boey Kim Cheng of the award-winning writer. (George Braziller, Nov 14)





Barbie ChangBarbie Chang by Victoria Chang

In Barbie Chang, poet Victoria Chang’s inventive, playful follow-up to The Boss, she reimagines American dream girl Barbie and Mr. Darcy in order to explore and question race, gender, and the madness of love. “Equal parts searing, vulnerable, and terrified,” Barbie Chang is Chang’s fourth collection of poetry. (Copper Canyon, November 14)






Kavitha Rao
The Librarian by Kavitha Rao

Vidya Patel has always felt isolated from her family for her love of books, so when she discovers a struggling heritage library in Mumbai, she immediately feels at home. Journalist Kavitha Rao’s first novel is a dark story of obsession, written for bibliophiles everywhere. (Kitaab)





Jeremy Tiang
State of Emergency by Jeremy Tiang

Written by AAWW’s own Asia Literary editor Jeremy Tiang, State of Emergency, follows one extended family from Singapore’s turbulent independence to the present-day. Interweaving stories from erased Marxist movements, British war crimes, and the political prisoners taken during the Emergency, Tiang rewrites the lost history of a nation.  State of Emergency was a finalist for the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. (Epigram Books)