The stories in Khem K Aryal’s new collection present a deeply human perspective on the travails—and triumphs—of a group of Nepalese immigrants struggling with the consequences of their decision to come to America.
The railroads, San Francisco Chinatown, the Chinese Exclusion Act, laundries, restaurants: just when you thought there was nothing more to be written about the story of Chinese immigration to America, along comes Hugo Wong with an absorbing account of his families’ history in Mexico. Wong is a scion of two of Mexico’s erstwhile most important and successful Chinese families, but whose stories have largely been forgotten. Both the remembering and the forgetting contain important lessons.
Although the stories in Paul Yoon’s latest collection range from northern Vermont and the Costa Brava to the Russian Far East, and chronologically from 17th-century Japan to more less the present day, with stops along the way in Tsarist Russia and the Cold War, they all feature protagonists who are Korean in one way or another.
Brinda Charry found inspiration, she writes in her author’s note, for her debut novel The East Indian, from a little known piece of US history. Dating from almost the first days of the English settlement in the early 1600s, servants and laborers from India arrived in colonial Virginia and Maryland via London, having been England in the first place as servants to officials of the East India Company. Charry explored this piece of history and set her story around the first-known Indian immigrant, a young Tamil man who went by the name of Tony. The result is a fascinating story in itself—Tony’s adventures, sometimes against his will and sometimes by choice—complemented by vivid writing.
When the two immigrant parents in Zeno Sworder’s latest illustrated book go to the baker asking for a cake for their son, the baker asks for something different instead of money. “Five centimeters should do it,” says the baker. “Your height, of course.”
Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter, she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain.
In Kathryn Ma’s new novel, a young man from Yunnan who has given himself the name of Shelley—as in the poet—has developed a term to describe a “belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders”. It gives its name to the book, The Chinese Groove, which starts out in a small city called Gejiu in Yunnan, but soon transits along with its protagonist to California. Despite its upbeat title, the novel centers around the ways in which people deal with grief.