Ye Chun’s new collection of short stories, Hao, mainly centers on the experience of Chinese women, both in China and in the United States. Hao, or “good” in Chinese, is the somewhat ironic theme that connects many of the stories, where women have decidedly not-good situations and explore the irony of their circumstances.
In computer engineering, an edge case occurs when someone is writing code and accidentally misses something small, but crucial, that eludes bug-testing. YZ Chin’s new novel, Edge Case, centers around a young Malaysian woman named Edwina who works at a start-up in Manhattan and is in charge of investigating edge cases. But when her husband, Marlin, suddenly disappears, her focus changes from artificial intelligence coding to figuring out what happened to her marriage.
It’s a summer night in 2006 on Gerrard Street, the main artery of London’s Chinatown. A lone gunman walks into a drinking den, JoJoBar, and shoots one of the customers as he embraces a female companion. The gunman escapes and none of the witnesses will speak to the police. The inexplicable murder of Donald Quek, a cocky young tourist from Malaysia, is set to remain unsolved unless his former girlfriend, Molly, can crack the case.
“The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” was published in The New Yorker in early 2020, generating great interest for Anthony Veasna So’s forthcoming collection of stories, Afterparties. But months before his book came out, So died suddenly from an overdose. “The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” kicks off this collection and tries to answer a question that runs throughout the book, namely “what does it mean to be Khmer, anyway?”
Kotaro Isaka’s thriller Bullet Train moves as fast as the train—the Shinkansen—it takes place on and is named after. Already destined to be a movie starring the not-very-Japanese Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock (one imagines some changes en route), Bullet Train, a guilty pleasure if there ever were one, is something of a cross between Murder on the Orient Express and Train to Busan.
In her debut novel The Illuminated, Anindita Ghose weaves together stories of personal grief and struggle with larger socio-political afflictions. The personal stories of the women in the book are timeless and universal; these are stories of self-effacement and self-discovery that feminist writing deals with anyway. But Ghose refreshingly sets the stories in contemporary India and connects them with the impact that the rise of fundamentalism is likely to have on women. Apart from this well-balanced personal-political equation, Ghose offers a hopeful vision that, fortunately, all is not bleak: the women in the novel strive to find a political space that protects their personal space.
Alexander McCall Smith, of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame, has moved, literarily if not literally, from Africa and Scotland to Sri Lanka. He has placed the story of his latest novel The Pavilion in the Clouds, on the grounds of a tea plantation in colonial Ceylon.