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September Bookmarks: 22 New Books by Asian Writers

Salman Rushdie’s newest, Marie Lu’s anticipated sequel, Khaled Hosseini’s illustrated short, and Emily Yoon’s sharp-edged poetry.

Marginalia | bookmarks
September 13, 2018

All Roads Lead to Blood by Bonnie Chau

In her debut short story collection, Kundiman fellow Bonnie Chau inspects the ever-evolving perspectives of second generation Chinese Americans. In exploring the lives of young women with a focus on love, heritage, and memory, Chau writes unflinching stories on desire and how they shape and adapt to who we are and what we come from. (Sante Fe Writers’ Project, 2040 Books, Sept 1)






That Sight by Marjon Mossammaparast

That Sight binds perspectives on places always further on, folds them together, and presents them as one. A grandmother’s memories of her ‘brood’, a rockstar’s face, the existence and absence of God—Mossammaparast presents images both dear to the human heart and of landscapes far off, towards the stars. Transnational, diasporic, and cosmopolitan, this collection exists in constant flux. (Cordite Books, Sept 1)






We That Are Young by Preti Taneja

Heralded as “a modern-day King Lear set in contemporary India,” Preti Taneja’s debut novel is a journey through tales of familial power struggles within a nation in a constant state of transformation. A story comprising equal parts benevolence and callous betrayal, it presents a portrait of a family as a microcosm of a nation. (Knopf, Sept 4)





Ponti by Sharlene Teo

Friendless and fatherless, Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost, and now a hack medium performing séances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come. Through the relationships of these various women, Teo unearths a portrait of Singapore’s precarious (post)modernity to award-winning recognition. (Simon & Schuster, Sept 4)





The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House marks Salman Rushdie’s triumphant and exciting return to realism. On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire takes up residence in “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought his three adult sons. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down. (Random House, Sept 5)



Isako Isako by Mia Ayumi Malhotra

Mia Yaumi Malhotra’s Isako Isako is written from dark roots. The chilling historical legacies of cultural trauma in the United States, events of internment, mass displacement, and rampant racism are transformed into the lyric and weaved into the current political and social fabric. (Alice James, Sept 8)







Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal

What started as an Instagram comic that garnered 25,000 likes with each installment, the fresh and wildly humorous graphic novel by newcomer Aminder Dhaliwal shows a world without men. As characters develop, illustrations becomes increasingly filled with life, fervor, and the burning energy of feminists—all of which have rallied under the flag of “Beyonce’s Thighs.” (Drawn & Quarterly, Sept 11)





Life of Miracles Along the Yangtze and Mississippi by Wang Ping

Wang Ping’s stories draw from the people she grew up with, befriended along her journey, and carried her through his travels across two distant rivers. From these rivers we learn the power of the Tao, of history, and of water’s guiding force and spiritual existence within all of our lives. (University of Georgia Press, Sept 15)





The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein

Ever since her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Arundhati “Rune” Mathura has lived with her brother and grandfather in her rural Trinidad village of Kukuyo. When her classmate is found murdered with no known culprit, Rune’s curious nature takes over and she decides to try and solve the case. This investigation takes her on a journey that unravels the sinister underbelly of something that has been plaguing her small village for a long time. A story equal parts suspenseful, realistic, and heartbreaking, Kevin Jared Hosein presents a modern, page-turning fable. (Blouse & Skirt Books, Sept 15)





The Desert by Brandon Shimoda

Following the Williams Carlos Williams award-winning book of poems Evening Oracle, Brandon Shimoda strings together essays, poems, letters, and diary entries to form a force of a novel. Etel Adnan heralds Shimoda as having “[reached] a hallucinating intensity of vision, and a synthetic one,” spreading his readers out like sand amongst the dessert that is the backdrop of this collection. Though the presented North American landscape is rich, Shimoda doesn’t stray far from its deeply rooted Japanese American history of incarceration nor fail to observe the contemporary views of the past. (Song Cave, Sept 1)





Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

A trained cardiologist, Sandeep Jauhar seamlessly oscillates between historical reportage and personal memoir as he recounts the breakthroughs and failures in cardiology alongside a family history of heart ailments. At once sobering, earnest, and tender, Jauhar welds together two genres to bring forth a powerful account of our most vital organ, “the only organ that can move itself.” (FSP, Sept 18)




A Cruelty to Our Species by Emily Yoon

The Margins‘ Poetry editor’s Emily Yoon’s explores the stories of Korean “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual labor in Japanese-occupied territories during World War II. Through testimonies and confessions of victims, Yoon brings a force of energy to contemporary discussions. (Ecco, Sept 18)







Wildcard by Marie Lu

A sequel to the NYT bestseller Warcross comes a sequel packed with even more action and secrecy. Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone has put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Sept 18)





Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas

In the spirit of Kandice Chuh’s call for a subjectless discourse that privileges critique over mere observation, this book considers the two-sided coin that is migration and home—of having one, losing one, and the constant quest for some to find one. Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas on finishing this book: “After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.” (Day Street Books, Sept 18)





Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini writes an imagined letter in the form of a monologue delivered by a Syrian father to the son lying asleep in his lap, on the eve of their sea crossing to Europe. This beautifully illustrated short for people of all ages brings together what Hosseini has proved to be at the center of his work, beginning with his award-winning debut Kite Runner, the struggle of displaced populations, the journey of eternal running, and how we might find home in the most unexpected places. (Riverhead, Sept 18)





My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Masih

Inspired by real events, Tara Masih tells the stunning story of a family of Ukrainian jews hiding in a cave during the Holocaust. A feat of historical fiction, Masih’s story is told through an older woman as she recounts her experiences to her daughter. Meticulously researched and paired with sharp prose and elegant storytelling, this is a moving story of survival and the power of compassion. (Mandel Villar Press, Sept 18)






Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China by Leta Hong Fincher

Journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher upacks the events that unfolded on the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015. The Feminist Five at the core of Fincher’s research were arrested on that day by the Chinese government, later inspiring an uproar of a global movement. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest threat to China’s authoritarian regime today. Presented in the midst of the #MeToo movement, Fincher provides an illuminating account of the suppressed history of feminist struggles. (Verso, Sept 25)





I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara by Lalbihari Sharma, translated by Rajiv Mohabir

Lalbihari Sharma collects texts originally published as a pamphlet of spiritual songs in the style of 16th century devotional poets in the Bhojpuri dialect, Holi Songs of Demerara, and presents us with a groundbreaking translation that illuminates the voice of an indentured servant in the Anglophone Caribbean. From daily hardships in life to feelings of separation from a “Beloved”, Sharma unpacks his own family history with his award-winning poeticism. (Kaya Press, Sept 25)





Bad Friends by Ancco, translated by Janet Hong

“Ancco’s Bad Friends is the unforgettable story of a lost, pivotal friendship. I read it in a single sitting, thrilled by its power, ingenuity, and grace. I love this book,” praises R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries. This graphic novel by Ancco is translated from the Korean, and follows the lives and growth of two young women, both of whom move forward with the belief they deserve better, but ultimately are unable to see their bright future through. A moving tale on the power of female friendships and the desolate landscape that is a history of abuse. (Drawn & Quarterly, Sept 25)




The Caregiver by Samuel Park


When a codependent relationship between Ana and Mara Alencar, a mother-daughter pair of conflicting dispositions, begins to crumble as a result of political and personal distress, Mara flees 1980s Rio de Janeiro for California, where she finds work as a caregiver to a patient suffering from stomach cancer. In this gap, Mara begins a reflection on her relationship to her mother and a tumultuous past that guides her towards a new understanding of what it means to care. (Simon & Schuster, Sept 25)




Song of Arirang: A Korean Rebel in Revolutionary China by Kim San & Nym Wales

First published in 1972, Song of Arirang recounts the true story of Kim San (also known as Jang Jirak): a Korean revolutionary who fled the peninsula during Japanese occupation, eventually joining Mao’s Red Army during the Chinese Revolution. This new edition from Kaya Press includes the previously unpublished writings of Kim San, in addition to providing contextual notes and a new introduction by George O. Totten III and Arif Dirlik. (Kaya Press, August 1)





Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction edited by Sunyoung Park & Sang Joon Park

As the first English-language, book-length anthology of South Korean science and speculative fiction, Readymade Bodhisattva presents a survey of the genre from 1960 to present day. Comprising thirteen stories, each carefully annotated by the editors, this volume critically examines South Korea’s technocultural rise against the backdrop of the Cold War. (Kaya Press, Sept 21)