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 common tale: a gunman out for revenge in the American West, whose six-shooter leaves a trail of bodies behind him. But The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, the debut novel from Tom Lin, takes a novel twist on the genre by having its gunman be Ming Tsu: a Chinese man, orphaned in the United States, out on a journey to murder those who press-ganged him to work on the railroads.

Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities, erin Khuê Ninh (Temple University Press, 2021)
Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities, erin Khuê Ninh (Temple University Press, 2021)

In her engaging study, Passing for Perfect, erin Khuê Ninh considers the factors that drove college imposters such as Azia Kim—who pretended to be a Stanford freshman—and Jennifer Pan—who hired a hitman to kill her parents before they found out she had never received her high school diploma—to extreme lengths to appear successful. Why would someone make such an illogical choice? And how do they stage these lies so convincingly, and for so long?

The narrator in Pik-Shuen Fung’s debut novel, Ghost Forest, is a child in an “astronaut” family. As anyone who has ever orbited Hong Kong knows, this term was coined there to describe families that emigrated—usually to Canada, Australia or the United States—while the fathers stay back to work, “flying here, flying there”. It’s a resulting father-daughter relationship that provides the backbone of Fung’s novel, arranged as a collection of related vignettes, mostly one or two pages, but sometimes consisting of only several words. 

Injustice produces indignation at those responsible for it. Shrabani Basu’s The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer is filled with indignation as it tells the story of the investigation, prosecution, conviction, and partial pardon of George Edalji, a British lawyer of Indian descent who served three years in prison for crimes (mutilating animals and sending threatening letters) he did not commit. It is a tale of racial prejudice, an inept judge, a biased chief of police, and an obstinate criminal justice bureaucracy. But it is also the tale of men who saw injustice and worked persistently to right a terrible wrong. Included among those men was the creator of the fictional master detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Anti-miscegenation laws—laws prohibiting interracial marriage and relationships—plagued the United States and were a part of the American fabric for centuries, some lasting until the 1960s. Tom Lin frames his debut novel, The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, around this issue as the eponymous protagonist of the story was married to a white woman until her father and the local law enforcement put an end to it. Ming Tsu is now out for revenge. He’s also an assassin by trade.