It’s late 1935 and Mauna Loa is erupting. Residents of Hilo worry that Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, is angry. Gail Tsukiyama sets her new novel, The Color of Air, in this still small city populated mainly by sugarcane workers and fishermen during an eruption that actually took place in the 1930s. The novel, meanwhile, is populated mainly with the children and grandchildren of Japanese immigrants that arrived in Hawai’i in the late 1800s.
Iris Weijun Wang is just like any other New Jersey teen. She enjoys shopping, hanging out with friends and spending time with her boyfriend. Her parents are Chinese immigrants who speak English at home and are pretty hands off when it comes to their daughter’s school work and extracurricular activities. But when they learn during Iris’s last semester of high school that she’s about to flunk out and has been rejected from every college she has applied to, Iris’s parents flip out. Her otherwise laid-back father comes up with the perfect solution to teach Iris some responsibility. Off to China she goes.
In Kevin Kwan’s new blockbuster (for such it is universally expected to be), cousins half-Chinese/half old money WASP Lucie Honeychurch and WASPy Charlotte Barclay travel to Capri, where they encounter a Hong Kong Chinese mother and son duo, Rosemary and George Zao …
While the Second World War may have concluded more than seventy years ago, new stories from that era continue to pop up, even now. Paul French’s new book, Strangers on the Praia: A Tale of Refugees and Resistance in Wartime Macao, tells the little-known history of Jewish refugees in Shanghai that fled to the neutral Portuguese enclave.
Nora Watts is on the run from the very man she’s trying to hunt down. With an ethnic Chinese-Vietnamese villain as protagonist and partially set on the Indonesian island of Lombok, Sheena Kamal’s third book in her Nora Watts thriller series, No Going Back, tells the story of a half-Palestinian/half-indigenous Canadian trying to save her teenage daughter from the man who is after both women.
University student Miwako Sumida has committed suicide and her small group of friends are caught completely off guard, yet determined to search for answers behind her death. Set mainly in Tokyo, Indonesian-born Clarissa Goenawan’s second novel, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, is a haunting story of friendship in young adulthood and how—even before social media—people are not often as they appear.
The country is made up almost entirely of immigrants, yet the United States goes through decades-long bouts of antipathy toward them. Journalist Jia Lynn Yang’s family emigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1976; it wasn’t until much later that she learned her family had benefited from a US policy only a decade old when her parents applied for visas. Interested in the change in policy, she set out to research US immigration law during the period when it was restricted the most. Her new book, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965, tells the fascinating story of how these immigration restrictions came to be and why they were relaxed after four decades.