Steep Tea

by Jee Leong Koh
Carcanet Press, 2015

koh-jee-leong-steep-teaSteep Tea is Singapore-born Jee Leong Koh’s fifth collection and the first to be published in the UK. Koh’s poems express many of the harsh and enriching circumstances of a postcolonial queer writer, in a voice both colloquial and musical. Like the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Eavan Boland and Lee Tzu Pheng, Koh’s writing is forged in the pleasures of reading, cultures and communities. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

“Here are short, deft narratives that map the mismatched patterns of male and female desire grounded in partial understandings of love. The author’s native Singapore sounds out sharply, often ironically, in counterpoint to the intimate domestic interiors that help to constitute what will surely be recognized as some of contemporary poetry’s classic love poems.” -David Kinloch

Jee Leong Koh was born and raised in Singapore and moved to New York in 2003. He has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He is the curator of the website Singapore Poetry and the cochair of the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in New York City. He lives in New York City.

Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora

2Q==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.

 

 

Brothers Under a Same Sky

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by Gary Pak
University of Hawaii Press, 2013

Gary Pak’s latest novel is the story of two Korean-American brothers, Nam Kun and Nam Ki Han, raised in a devout Christian household on a Hawaiian plantation. Following their father’s death, Nam Kun works to support his mother and younger brother, but distances himself from the same Christian faith his remaining family clings to. Years later, at the start of the Korean War, Nam Ki is drafted into the army—an occurrence Nam Kun believes will make a man out of his younger brother. However, the need to kill clashes with Nam Ki’s religious convictions, and the ethical turmoil that follows is soothed only when he meets and falls in love with a young Korean, Christian woman. Nam Ki vows to return for her once the war ends, but upon doing so learns that she has fallen into an ignominious lifestyle, confronting him with a final choice between faith and flesh.

Gary Pak is a third-generation Korean-American. He received his BA from Boston University and his MA and PhD from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where he is currently a professor of English. His published fiction includes the novels A Ricepaper Airplane and Children of a Fireland, as well as the short story collections The Watcher of Waipuna and Other Stories, and Language of the Geckos. He is the recipient of the 1992 Elliot Cades Literary Prize, as well as a 2002 Fulbright award to Seoul, South Korea.

Monstress

51qugicl0xl-_sx331_bo1204203200_by Lysley Tenorio
HarperCollins Press, 2012.

Monstress introduces new writer, Lysley Tenorio, who explores the clash and meld of disparate cultures. In the National Magazine Award-nominated title story, a has-been movie director and his reluctant leading lady travel from Manila to Hollywood for one last chance at stardom, unaware of what they truly stand to lose. In “Felix Starro,” a famous Filipino faith healer and his grandson conduct an illicit business in San Francisco, though each has his own plans for their earnings. And after the Beatles reject an invitation from Imelda Marcos for a Royal Command Performance, an aging bachelor attempts to defend her honor by recruiting his three nephews to attack the group at the Manila International Airport in “Help.” (Publishers Description)

Lysley Tenorio lives in San Francisco, California, and is an associate professor at Saint Mary’s College. Lysley’s short stories have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Manoa Journal has published two of his short stories: “The Brothers” appears in Jungle Planet and “Save the I-Hotel”  is included in Gates of Reconciliation.

Water Ghosts

by Shawna Yang Ryan
Penguin Books, 2010.

Locke, California, 1928. Three bedraggled Chinese women appear out of the mist in a small Chinese farming town on the Sacramento River. Two are unknown to its residents, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor. As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women, their frightening power is finally revealed.

An imagining of what happens when a Chinese ghost story comes true,Water Ghosts is a tale of human passions and mingling cultures. (Publisher’s description)

Shawna Yang Ryan was born in Sacramento, California.  Water Ghosts, originally published as Locke 1928, is her first book.  Ryan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, then went on to receive an M.A. from the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Davis.  She is currently one of the  Distinguished Writers in Residence at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  Click Here to read an interview with Shawna Yang Ryan on Water Ghosts.

Drifting House

Drifting Houseby Krys Lee
Viking/Penguin, 2012.

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.

The Long Road: A Novel

by Kim In-Suk
MerwinAsia, 2010

The Long Road is a short novel that examines the processes that caused idealistic young Koreans to depart for overseas during the 1990s in the wake of their experiences under Korea’s darker days of military dictatorship in the 1980s. The story centers on a trio of men: Han-Yeong, who although initially attracted to the freedom that Australia seems to promise, comes to feel increasingly ambivalent about his life there; his brother Han-Rim, a former minor singing star who fell afoul of the authorities in Korea for a song seen as critical of the government; and Myeong-U, who had been a student activist in Korea and develops psychological difficulties during his time in custody for protesting.

Winner of the 1995 Hanguk Ilbo Literary prize, The Long Road is the sole work of Korean literature in English that treats the Korean diaspora experience in Australia. (Publisher’s description)

Kim In-Suk is one of the most prominent of Korea’s new wave of female writers born in the early sixties. Recipient of numerous prestigious literary prizes, she is also one of the few writers to deal extensively with the Korean expatriate experience.