In the late 1970s and early 1980s, two Jewish cartoonists brought the term “graphic novel” to the mainstream. Will Eisner’s A Contract With God tells the story of poor Jewish immigrants in New York tenements while Art Spiegelman’s Maus depicts two storylines that center around the Holocaust. These books address heavy subjects and differ from the lighter fare in comic books, which are usually thinner, magazine-like publications. The term graphic novel has come to refer to non-fiction, not just fiction.
The cover of Somewhere Only We Know, Maurene Goo’s latest young adult novel, isn’t inordinately different from other contemporary romantic comedies: a young Asian woman is seated while a young Asian man leans into her back, only part of his face and an arm are visible. Yet the story is unusually set almost completely in Hong Kong while the protagonist, Lucky, is an equally unlikely American-born internationally renowned teenage K-Pop star who isn’t a household name in the United States—yet.
In the summer of 2016, Hong Kong illustrator Joanne Liu was in New York City with a friend. Together they visited some New York museums but Liu felt a bit intimidated by the experience: “We just thought there were a lot of things we didn’t understand. We didn’t know what was going on.”
A father cradles his son and says:
My dear Marwan,
in the long summers of childhood,
when I was a boy the age you are now,
your uncles and I
spread our mattress on the roof
of your grandfather’s farmhouse
outside of Homs.
Book reviews on Indian fiction and non-fiction from 2018, covering history, literature, sociology, art, culture and international relations.
Immigration is much in the news. Here is a selection of books we have reviewed, mostly recently, a few from farther back, on the subject: non-fiction, fiction and even some children’s books. Although many discuss Asian immigration to the West, this list is a reminder that the various diasporas are not limited to West; there is even intra-Asia migration.
The fictional exploration of the social demotion caused by immigration is hardly new, but rarely has it been portrayed with such warmth and urgency as in Kelly Yang’s middle-grade novel Front Desk.