Laura Gao was born in Wuhan and spent her first four years with grandparents in China while her mother and father studied in the US. When she reunites with her parents, she finds herself in the strange land of Texas where teachers and new classmates can not pronounce her Chinese name, the only name she knows. Gao writes about culture shock and identity in her engaging new book, Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American, a story nicely accompanied by vivid drawings.

In his new (but posthumous) memoir, Shanghai Jewish refugee Paul Hoffmann writes about his three most tumultuous experiences. One was enduring six months of Nazi Vienna, the other the terror inflicted by Sargent Kano Ghoya in the Shanghai Jewish Ghetto, and the third life under the new Chinese regime from 1949-1952. Much has been written about the first two, but Witness to History sheds light on the lives of the Jews that stayed behind in Shanghai after 1949.

Unlike most memoirs about the immigrant experience that center around overcoming hurdles to build a new life, Jolie Phuong Hoang instead structures Three Funerals For My Father: Love, Loss and Escape from Vietnam around her father’s death as he tries to escape Vietnam by boat in 1985. Her younger sister also drowned on that journey. It takes Hoang three decades to come to terms with her father’s and sister’s deaths and her book tells their stories and how her father did whatever he could to bring his family to safer shores.

Filled with memorabilia, photos and interviews, Berlin-based artist, critic and writer Xiaowen Zhu’s bilingual book Oriental Silk documents a Chinese-American family’s migration story. Tracing Ken Wong’s family past and cultural journeys, from his parents’ childhoods in China to their eventual relocation to the US and ultimately a flourishing business, Zhu reveals the dreams, hopes and struggles of the migrants in the Chinese diaspora.

America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility, Rajika Bhandari (She Writes Press, September 2021)
America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility, Rajika Bhandari (She Writes Press, September 2021)

Growing up in India, Rajika Bhandari has seen generations of her family look westward, where an American education means status and success. But she resists the lure of America because those who leave never seem to return; they become flies trapped in honey in a land of opportunity. As a young woman, however, she follows her heart and a relationship—and finds herself heading to a US university to study. As she works her way through America’s tangled web of immigration, Bhandari lands in a job that immerses her in the lives of international students from over 200 countries and the universities that attract them.

To his California high school classmates, Arsalan Nizami seems like an eighty year-old trapped in a seventeen year-old’s body and it’s not without reason. His mother died in a car accident some years back, his grandparents are no longer living, and his alcoholic father has moved to another state. Yet Arsalan has one living relative who is more than capable of taking care of him: his one hundred year-old great-grandfather, Nana. In Sway With Me, Syed M Masood’s new young adult novel, Arsalan is worried about his future after Nana is no longer around and takes his mother’s dying wish literally: to find love before Nana passes away.

Belonging—either to another person, a family or a nation—is the key theme of this exquisite coming-of-age novel from British-Asian writer Selma Carvalho. Carvalho has published three non-fiction books which document the Goan migration to colonial East Africa. Her intimate understanding of the diasporic experience shines through every page as she explores her characters’ search for “home”.