Meddy Chan works for her family’s event company, which specializes in wedding services like hair styling, make-up, cakes, flowers, musical entertainment, and photography. For the upcoming Tom Cruise Sutopo / Jacqueline Wijaya wedding, Meddy also provides a dead body. Jesse Q Sutanto’s entertaining new novel, Dial A For Aunties, brings to mind the movies Weekend at Bernie’s and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but with Chinese-Indonesian characters on a private island off the coast of Los Angeles.
Vanessa R Sasson’s debut novel Yasodhara and the Buddha takes the life of Gautama Buddha, the stuff of scripture and legend, and lays out a story about love between him and his wife. And a fascinating story it is, too, about ego, love, and renunciation as love.
A short story is an unlikely review subject, but “Person of Korea” has several things going for it: first, it’s by Paul Yoon and in its detached observational style is illustrative of the author’s other work. Second, it’s set among the Korean diaspora in the Russia Far East; although the Russian Far East has begun to feature in an increasing amount of fiction, the only other work with this particular combination that comes to mind is Jeff Talarigo’s The Ginseng Hunter. And third, it’s available online at The Atlantic.
In Touring the Land of the Dead, author Maki Kashimada writes about one woman’s trauma with razor-perfect concision and an austere beauty.
Catherine Menon’s debut novel, Fragile Monsters, is a beautifully written story of one Indian Malaysian family’s history, entwined with secrets and hidden heartbreak, told through the fractious relationship of Durga and her Ammuma, her grandmother Mary. When Durga, a mathematics lecturer returns home to rural Pahang after ten years away in Canada and in Kuala Lumpur, to spend Diwali with Mary, the pair are forced to untangle the mystery of their past. “Stories twist through the past like hair in a plait,” Durga says.
Riding to join the army in Armenia, Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Sergeievich Pushkin met a ox-cart heading in the opposite direction, carrying a plain box made of planks. “What are you carrying?” the poet asked the carters. “Griboedov”, came the answer. That was Pushkin’s last encounter with his friend, namesake, fellow playwright, diplomat, and now terrorist victim, Alexander Sergeievich Griboedov. Yuri Tynyanov’s 1929 biographical novel describes the last year of the hero’s life and his death, offering a portrait of Russia’s Golden Age of literature as well as a veiled critique of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
When Shek Yang was a little girl at the end of the 1700s along what came to be known as the “China Coast”, she lost her mother and newborn brother within hours. To make up for the loss of his son, her father trained Shek Yang in sailing, fishing and other seafaring skills. But he couldn’t prepare her for what was to come. His gambling debts accumulated and after selling his boat, he sold Shek Yang to a floating brothel, euphemistically called a flower boat. And so begins Larry Feign’s new book—and his first historical novel—The Flower Boat Girl, which tells of the real-life Shek Yang’s rise to become one of the fiercest pirates in the South China Sea in the early 19th century.