Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms: A Mother & Daughter’s Journey through Racism, Internment and Oppression, Grace Eiko Thomson (Caitlin Press, March 2021)
Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms: A Mother & Daughter’s Journey through Racism, Internment and Oppression, Grace Eiko Thomson (Caitlin Press, March 2021)

At 8 years old, Grace Eiko Nishikihama was forcibly removed from her Vancouver home and interned with her parents and siblings in the BC Interior. Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms is a moving and politically outspoken memoir written by Grace, now a grandmother, with passages from a journal kept by her late mother, reflecting on their family history, cultural heritage, generational trauma, and the meaning of home.

 Giving Back: Filipino America and the Politics of Diaspora Giving, L Joyce Zapanta Mariano (Temple University Press, February 2021)
Giving Back: Filipino America and the Politics of Diaspora Giving, L Joyce Zapanta Mariano (Temple University Press, February 2021)

Many Filipino Americans feel obligated to give charitably to their families, their communities, or social development projects and organizations back home. Their contributions provide relief to poor or vulnerable Filipinos, and address the forces that maintain poverty, vulnerability, and exploitative relationships in the Philippines. This philanthropy is a result of both economic globalization and the migration of Filipino professionals to the United States. But it is also central to the moral economies of Filipino migration, immigration, and diasporic return. Giving-related practices and concerns—and the bonds maintained through giving—infuse what it means to be Filipino in America.

Once home to the cultured, artistic world of courtesans, Heera Mandi is now a crumbling red-light district in Lahore. Raina is a young tour guide committed to fighting the injustice and violence now endemic there. But she’s part of the world she’s fighting: her mother Jahaan-e-Rumi works there; her father, Sherji, manages her mother’s career and uses those earnings to run a fundamentalist madrassa.

Syed Masood’s The Bad Muslim Discount is named after the rationale the capricious landlord gives for allowing one of the main characters to live there; they meet in that run-down building nearly halfway through the novel, after they are propelled to life in the US. Surprisingly, it is not a love story, but rather gathers more and more interconnections as it proceeds. Anvar Faris is a clever Pakistani boy (the “bad Muslim”) who struggles against the expectations of his religious mother, and Safwa is a girl left to contend with her abusive father after her mother and brother die in Afghanistan.

Zuleikha had an aptitude for the piano during her childhood in Lahore, but her black-marketer father could only afford an electronic Casio keyboard. Years later, her dream of owning her own proper piano comes about upon leaving Pakistan for an arranged marriage to Iskander, a US citizen and resident of Irving, Texas. So begins Suman Mallick’s new novel, The Black-Marketer’s Daughter.

“I’d kill a Chinaman as quick as I would an Indian and I’d kill an Indian as quick as I would a dog.” This chilling remark, recorded in a police report, was made in 1884 by a man who had taken part in the lynching of Louie Sam, a fourteen-year old indigenous boy from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. He had been waiting to be tried for murder in New Westminster when he was kidnapped by an American mob, taken across the border and lynched, presumably because the alleged murder had taken place in Nooksack, Washington. It later transpired that two members of the lynch mob were likely responsible for the murder.

Timor-Leste has been just about the most geographically and politically remote corner of East Asia, a distant second to Macau in Portugal’s one-time East Asian possessions, diminutive compared to the Dutch East Indies and later Indonesia. And the Chinese community there, as far as the Chinese diaspora goes, one of the less substantial. Perhaps for those reasons, the development of Cina Timor—the Timorese Chinese—offers a case study in intra-Asian immigration and identity.