The Leavers by Lisa Ko is Chinese-American fiction literature book that centres on the lifelong consequences and ramifications of abandonment, and how it contributes heavily to cultural identity crises of multicultural children adopted into white families. We follow Deming Guo, a Chinese-American adoptee that lives in the suburbs with his white parents amid forced assimilation into a world of racist white privilege.
Parade by Shūichi Yoshida is a Japanese psychological mystery story about four distinct individuals who all reside in a small two-bedroom Tokyo apartment. How these four came to be together is a matter of happenstance due to life’s quirky humour. They end up developing a friendship that they don’t even realise exists.
The novel is a remarkable work of fiction that sophisticatedly examines the dimensionalities of grief, abandonment, dysfunction, and the inability to convey emotions and insecurities honestly and securely.
When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka is a Japanese-American historical fiction novel that tells the story of a family that is uprooted from their home and put into an Internment Camp during the Second World War. Each tale is told from the perspective of a different person, which helps tell a story that explains the various traumatic experiences and harmful impacts that this devastating event had on Japanese and Japanese-Americans.
Gothic horror is a much-underappreciated category of fiction, so to witness a culturally rich Latinx addition to the genre was absolutely thrilling. Mexican Gothic not only lived up to every expectation that I had, but it also surpassed them by a marvellous margin.
Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar is a Queer own-voices Indian picture book about a young girl named Ayesha who is positively ecstatic to attend her cousin’s wedding to another woman and to celebrate the joy of their love.
Murder in Old Bombay is an excellently written piece of historical fiction that is both transportive and insightful about an era that is rarely seen within the genre, the British occupation of India during the late 1800s. Coupled with the portrayal of a biracial identity and a curious crime mystery, readers shall have a pleasantly engaging reading experience, more so if they fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s dynamic detective duo
Phoenix Extravagant is an exceptional piece of science-fiction that is beautifully complex yet approachable and fascinatingly original. It is one of the best novels released within the genre in all of 2020.
Fantasy is a genre that pushes the confines of comfort zones to show us the dynamic differences in our idealism, political preferences, and even the various ways that communities partake in religion or choose to forsake it entirely. Out of the myriad of reasons that I adore The Daevabad books by S.A. Chakraborty, this is the element that I appreciate the most: the lessons on what faith means on a deeply personal level.
Since I receive a lot of questions from people about Japanese literature and how best to begin reading from it, I thought it would be neat to share recommendations that are perfect for an array of readers, whether the preference is for mysteries to contemporaries and even magical realism and fantasy. All of these books are translated fiction that is authored by women, who are some of my favourite writers from the modern age.
Burning Roses by S.L. Huang is an adult own-voices Queer Chinese fantasy novella about Rose (a.k.a. Red Riding Hood) and an archer named Hou Yi. Together they join forces to stop deadly sunbirds from ravaging the countryside. Their journey shall take them into a reckoning of terrible sacrifices, a mourning of mistakes, of choices, and also of family amid a quest for immortality.
One of the most intriguing characteristics about Seven is the subject matter of female genital cutting (FGC) as it is one that I have never seen discussed in literature before. My own personal knowledge of this ritual is extremely limited and for all intents and purposes, it has always been a topic that has existed within my own cultural circles, but one that is never openly discussed.
The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty is the third and final instalment in the author’s epic adult own-voices Islamic fantasy series. The highly-anticipated conclusion follows Nahri, Alizayd al-Qahtani, and Darayavahoush e-Afshin as they must confront the consequences of their choices across the span of the first two volumes, all leading to a highly action-packed finale.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata is an own-voices Japanese fiction novel by acclaimed author of Convenience Store Woman. The story follows a young lady named Natsuki who as a child was an outcast in the eyes of her parents and sister, and whose only friend was a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut. Piyyut explained to her that he was a visitor from a far away planet named Popinpobopia on a very special quest to help Natsuki save Earth.
The Map of Salt and Stars is one of the most consummate books that I have read in years, especially as it pertains to the refugee experience. It is magnificently compelling and emotionally riveting.