Birds of Paradise Lost (2013)
Asian & Asian American, Vietnam. Fiction. Short Stories. Diaspora Studies.
The thirteen stories in Birds of Paradise Lost shimmer with humor and pathos as they chronicle the anguish and joy and bravery of America’s newest Americans, the troubled lives of those who fled Vietnam and remade themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area. The past–memories of war and its aftermath, of murder, arrest, re-education camps and new economic zones, of escape and shipwreck and atrocity–is ever present in these wise and compassionate stories. The past plays itself out in surprising ways in the lives of people who thought they had moved beyond the nightmares of war and exodus. It comes back on TV in the form of a confession from a cannibal; it enters the Vietnamese restaurant as a Vietnam Vet with a shameful secret; it articulates itself in the peculiar tics of a man with Tourette’s Syndrome who struggles to deal with a profound tragedy. Birds of Paradise Lost is an emotional tour de force, intricately rendering the false starts and revelations in the struggle for integration, and in so doing, the human heart. . . read more
Fire Summer (2019)
Asian & Asian American, Vietnam. Fiction. Diaspora Studies.
When twenty-three-year-old Maia Trieu, a curator’s assistant at the Museum of Folklore & Rocks in Little Saigon, Orange County, is offered a research grant to Vietnam for the summer of 1991, she cannot refuse. The grant’s sponsor has one stipulation: Maia is to contact her great-aunt to pass on plans to overthrow the current government. The expatriates did not anticipate that Maia would become involved with excursions in search of her mother or attract an entourage: an American traveler, a government agent, an Amerasian singer, and a cat. Maia carries out what she believes is her filial role to her late father, a former ARVN soldier, by returning to their homeland to continue the fight for an independent Vietnam. Along the way, however, she meets a cast of characters—historical and fictional, living and dead—who propel her on a journey of self-discovery through which she begins to understand what it means to love. . . read more
Sex & Taipei City (2019)
Asian & Asian American, Taiwan. Fiction. Short Stories.
In Sex & Taipei City, a diverse cast of characters finds relationships more trouble than they bargained for. Some are young and innocent: a teenager loses her virginity to a Ching Dynasty torture device in her family’s Strange Objects Museum. Some are far from innocent: a schoolgirl sells her body as an odd form of revenge and a grandfather alienates his family by watching Japanese porn at too loud a volume. For others, sexuality is a battle: a wife leaves her husband over a sexist joke, a foreign nanny steals an American baby, a mail order bride runs away, and a “spinster” beats up a pervert in the MRT station. . . read more
Power Made Us Swoon (2016)
Asian & Asian American, Japan. Poetry.
Guided by the character of the Woman Warrior–witty, swift, and ruthless in her wonder–readers of Brynn Saito’s second collection of poetry travel the terrain of personal and historical memory: narrative poems about family, farming towns, and the bravery of girlhood are interspersed with lyric poetry written from the voice of a stone found in a Japanese American internment camp during the wartime incarceration. What histories can be summoned with poetry? What are the forces shaping an American life in the 21st century? Car accidents, patriarchy, and television fall under this poet’s gaze, along with the intergenerational reverberations of historical trauma. . . read more
The Yellow Door (2015)
Asian & Asian American, Japan. Poetry. Diaspora Studies.
Sansei Amy Uyematsu’s The Yellow Door celebrates her Japanese-American roots and the profound changes that have occurred in her lifetime. As a woman born after World War II, her six decades in Los Angeles are captured in verse that link Hokusai woodblack paintings, her grandparents’ journeys to California, church parties playing Motown music, and Buddhist obon festivals. With the color yellow as a running theme, Uyematsu embraces “the idea of being a curious, sometimes furious yellow.” A genuine product of the sixties, she adds her own unique LA Buddhahead twist to Asian American identity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. . . . read more
The Heart’s Traffic (2009)
Asian & Asian American. Poetry. LGBTQIA+. Diaspora Studies.
This novel-in-poems chronicles the life of Xiaomei, an immigrant girl haunted by the death of her best friend. Told through a kaleidoscopic braid of stories, letters, and riddles, this stunning debut collection follows Xiaomei’s life as she grows into her sexuality and searches for a way to deal with her complicated histories. At times, meditation, celebration, investigation, and elegy, this is a book about personal transformation within the context of a family forced to make do—a Makeshift Family—and how one might create new language to name the New World . . . read more