edited by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Mariam B. Lam, and Kathy L. Nguyen
University of Washington Press, 2014
Pairing image and text, Troubling Borders showcases creative writing and visual artworks by sixty-one women of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Filipino ancestry. The collection features compelling storytelling that troubles the borders of categorization and reflects the multilayered experience of Southeast Asian women.
The diverse voices featured here have been shaped by colonization, wars, globalization, and militarization. For some of these women on the margins of the margin, crafting and showing their work is a bold act in itself. Their provocative and accessible creations tell unique stories, provide a sharp contrast to familiar stereotypes – Southeast Asian women as exotic sex symbols, dragon ladies, prostitutes, and “bar girls”-and serve as entry points for broader discussions on questions of history, memory, and identity. (Publisher’s website)
Isabelle Thuy Pelaud is associate professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University; Lan Duong is associate professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside; Mariam B. Lam is associate professor of comparative literature, media and cultural studies, and director of Southeast Asian studies, at the University of California, Riverside; and Kathy L. Nguyen is a writer and editor in San Francisco.
by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Marick Press Press, 2010.
Fiona Sze-Lorrain was born in Singapore, and grew up in a hybrid of cultures. After receiving a British education, she moved to the States, and graduated from Columbia University and New York University before pursuing a Ph.D. at Paris IV-Sorbonne. She has performed as a zheng concertist worldwide. As one of the editors at Cerise Press, she writes and translates in English, French and Chinese. She lives in both New York City and Paris, France. (Publisher’s information)
by Krys Lee
Spanning the Korean peninsula and the United States, from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee’s fiction debut, Drifting House, is about people who are torn between the traumas of their collective past and the indignities and sorrows of their present.
In the title story, children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. The tales set in America reveal the immigrants’ unmoored existence, playing out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls. A makeshift family is fractured when a shaman from the old country moves in next door. An abandoned wife enters into a fake marriage in order to find her kidnapped daughter. (Publisher’s description.)
Although born and currently living in Seoul, South Korea, Krys Lee spent much of her childhood in California and Washington and spent time in England. In 2012 she received a special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. In 2006 she was included in a short list of finalists for the Best New American Voices.
By Karl Marlantes
El Leon Literary Arts, 2010
Thirty years in the making, Marlantes’s epic debut is a dense, vivid narrative spanning many months in the lives of American troops in Vietnam as they trudge across enemy lines, encountering danger from opposing forces as well as on their home turf. Marine lieutenant and platoon commander Waino Mellas is braving a 13-month tour in Quang-Tri province, where he is assigned to a fire-support base and befriends Hawke, older at 22; both learn about life, loss, and the horrors of war. Jungle rot, leeches dropping from tree branches, malnourishment, drenching monsoons, mudslides, exposure to Agent Orange, and wild animals wreak havoc as brigade members face punishing combat and grapple with bitterness, rage, disease, alcoholism, and hubris. A decorated Vietnam veteran, the author clearly understands his playing field (including military jargon that can get lost in translation), and by examining both the internal and external struggles of the battalion, he brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences. Marlantes’s debut may be daunting in length, but it remains a grand, distinctive accomplishment. (Publishers Weekly)
Karl Marlantes is a graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar. His decorations in the Marines include two Navy Commendation Medals for Valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten Air Medals.
By Navy Phim
Navy Phim explores what it means to be a child of the “Killing Fields.” Hers is the story of the middle generation growing up with, and trying to make sense of, two cultures and two worlds–the beauty and tragedy of her Cambodian past (her Khmer soul) and the comfortable restlessness of her American present. Through stories, memories, and “snippets,” Navy shares her life journey from her birthplace in Battambang, Cambodia, to Kao-I-Dang refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, to a refugee processing center in the Philippines, to Long Beach, California, home to the largest population of Cambodians outside Southeast Asia. (Review by Dr. Susan Needham, associate professor, anthropology, California State University, Dominguez Hills)