Some of the most lasting consequences of war are displacement, refugees, and broken families. Eugenia Kim’s new and brilliant novel examines a family separated by not just one, but two wars.
Hawai’i is the one part of the USA proper that is unambiguously Asian, both in its origins as well as in its current demographics and orientation. Its idyllic image, writes Sharon Chang in her new book, Hapa Tales and Other Lies, is fraught with problems, namely that the Native Polynesian culture has been exploited over many years and in many ways. Right away, readers know they are in for a different interpretation of this vacation paradise.
There are some cities that lend themselves to darkness and intrigue. Macau is one of these places. First settled by refugees fleeing the Mongol invasion in northern China, it became a fishing village and later a haven for pirates. The Portuguese arrived in the 1500s and built a slice of the baroque Mediterranean in South China. It was returned to China in 1999 and today it’s the gambling capital of the world.
In the early-1990s, a new area of Shenzhen sprung up almost overnight: er nai cun, or second wives’ village. At that time, businessmen from Hong Kong began to work over the border as the manufacturing industry moved from industrial areas of Kowloon to the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen. Not only were low wage jobs disappearing in Hong Kong, but Deng Xiaoping promoted capitalism in his 1992 tour of southern China, including a stop in Shenzhen.
If there is a place and time in China that appeals to English readers more others, it’s pre-1949 Shanghai. The Paris of the East, Queen of the Orient, and the City that Never Sleeps are just a few of its monikers from the 1920s until late 1940s. Because 70 to 80 years has passed since then, fewer and fewer people are around to share stories from that era.
For most people in the West, the relationship with China is one based on products—clothes, shoes, mobile phones—or, should the rumbling trade war materialize, the lack of them. But the people who toil away making these products are hardly ever brought into focus.
Immigration reform’s prominence in global news doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. It’s an especially heated topic in the United States when immigrants aren’t filling such sought-after professions as nuclear engineers and information technology experts. Regardless of one’s position on immigration, however, it’s surely in everyone’s best interest for all immigrants to succeed in their new homes. And one of the most effective paths to success is having a solid support system—ie, a family—in a new land. Lauren Hilgers’s recently-published book, Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown, addresses this topic and couldn’t have come out at a more pertinent time.