Sati Mookherjee’s grandfather was arrested 17 years before India gained independence and went into exile in the UK. He returned to India in 1939 when England entered World War II. Mookherjee’s debut, Eye, based on her grandfather’s memoirs, is not a traditional collection of poetry, but rather a series of just three poems that give a vivid sense of his experiences during this historic era.

“To satisfy Divine Justice, perfect victims were necessary, but the Law of Love has succeeded to the law of fear, and Love has chosen me as a holocaust, me, a weak and imperfect creature” wrote Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha in her 1982 debut novel Dictee. Only two months after its publication, Cha was raped and murdered on her way to meet her husband and friends for dinner in New York City. She was 31 years old. Cha’s novel is  haunting, tragic, and defiant. Written in multiple languages and in a style both enigmatic and experimental, its accessibility is comparable to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Dictee is widely recognized today as a critically important text of postmodern, postcolonial, Asian-American literature and has enthralled scholars of Asian American literature since its publication. Forty years later, University of California Press has produced a restored version of Dictee. With the original cover and high-quality interior layout as Cha had designed them, this book is the most aesthetically appealing edition of the five that have been produced.

Hong Kong figures both as an early childhood memory and sometimes as a what-if question in Dorothy Chan’s latest poetry collection Babe. What if Chan’s parents had stayed and didn’t take the family to the United States, where Chan was born? What if Chan could grow up with a grandmother who was always around rather than someone she saw just on visits across the ocean?   

After the Myanmar coup last year, the country saw increasing rates of both censorship and persecution of dissidents. The relative access to and freedom of the Internet went into reverse. Born out of a desire to preserve the online voices of outrage, grief and dissent, editors Ko Ko Thett and Brian Haman assembled Picking Off New Shoots Will Not Stop the Spring, an anthology of poems and essays— both in English and translated from the original Burmese—that bear witness to the seismic changes in Burma/Myanmar’s politics.

And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight, Lynn Xu (Wave, April 2022)
And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight, Lynn Xu (Wave, April 2022)

Part protest against reality, part metaphysical reckoning, part internationale for the world-historical surrealist insurgency, and part arte povera for the wretched of the earth, Lynn Xu’s book-length poem, And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight, holds fast to our fragile utopias.

Over several decades, Shirley Geok-lin Lim has cemented her position as one of the Chinese diaspora’s foremost anglophone poets. Originally from Malacca, she has lived abroad since 1969, mostly in California, where she taught in the English department at the University of California in Santa Barbara University. In this, her 11th poetry collection, among her best to date, Lim has shaken off a long preoccupation with place and displacement to write striking poems on the natural world.