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.

 

 

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The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia

51pmboga-0l-_sx330_bo1204203200_Edited by Trevor Carolan
Cheng & Tsui Company, Inc., 2011.

The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia is a collection of contemporary short stories by South Asia’s most renown authors.  With writers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this anthology gives readers a glimpse into the complexities of a region so diverse in both landscape and people through the exploration of themes such as social upheaval, gender inequality, economic and spiritual struggle, and challenges to cultural orthodoxy.

In his review, Alan Cheuse describes that while the writers featured in The Lotus Singers are little know in the US, this anthology shows “how a distant part of the world seems so foreign and yet so close to home.”   Ira Raja also writes that the collection seems at first “to confirm out expectations of the standard stereotypes associated with South Asia—poverty, caste, and the pressures of the traditional family—[it turns] those expectations around in bold, subtle, and intriguing ways, forcing readers to rethink everything they thought they knew about this place at the crossroads of the world” (quoted from the back cover).

Trevor Carolan was born in Yorkshire but grew up in New Westminster, British Columbia.  He received an interdisciplinary PH.D. at Bond University, Australia, and currently teaches English at University of the Fraser Valley near Vancouver.  His current works include Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific and Against The Shore: The Best of Pacific Rim Review of Books, which he co-edited with Richard Olafson.

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.