Lucy Tosch regrets her decision to relocate to Okinawa even before she leaves the United States. She applies on a whim for a reporting job at a newspaper catering to the American community in Okinawa after Owen, her Japanese college boyfriend, suddenly ups and leaves without so mu ch as a by-your-leave. Sarah Z Sleeper’s debut novel, Gaijin, brings Lucy—and the reader—to Okinawa, a road less traveled in English-language fiction.
Novelists are often admonished to “write what you know”; Christina Chiu instead decided to know what she wrote. The Asian-American writer now has a sideline as shoe designer, something she learned as an integral part of writing her most recent novel set in and around the fashion industry.
A Korean nonagenarian learns on the news that the last remaining “comfort woman” is on her deathbed. The narrator, unnamed until the end of the book, is determined to meet this last victim: she wants to know if she knew the woman from 70 years earlier. She also wants to assure her that she’s not in fact the last one left. The narrator has never told anyone about her past—not even her siblings and their children; it’s finally a chance to talk about it.
In his introduction to Inaka: Portraits of Life in Rural Japan, editor John Grant Ross promises this collection will not play into “wacky” Japan. There will be no treatises on love motels, maid cafes, or parades of fertility idols. Instead, Ross sets out to show rural Japan in all its splendor.
Dori Jones Yang moved to Hong Kong in 1982 to run the BusinessWeek bureau. She was just 27 and the first woman to hold that position. In her memoir, When the Red Gates Opened, Jones Yang tells how she covered China during Deng’s ascent soon after China and the United States restored relations.
Sophia Chang is one of the most influential managers and producers in hip-hop music, yet few would recognize her name. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Chang grew up in an academic family in Vancouver. How did someone with such a presumably pre-determined path end up in New York’s hip-hop scene (and why have many of us remained oblivious of her until now)? Chang hints at part of the answer in the title of her new memoir, The Baddest Bitch in the Room.
Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s debut novel, The Last Story of Mina Lee, is a unique immigrant story that takes place in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Kim traces not just the struggles of adapting to a new country but also the tragedies Mina leaves behind in Korea.