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Friday, December 30, 2011

Moving Along

Sorry kids, I did a terrible job updating Lonely Comma so for now it shall have to sit here, unloved and lonely. I'll still be doing Asian American author spotlights over on my personal blog though!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Andrew Xia Fukuda

As far as I know, there's only a handful of male Asian American writers of YA and MG. Every time someone pops up that I didn't know about previously, I get super excited because clearly we have something unique in common. So when I heard about Andrew I was doubly excited because not only does he write YA, he writes great YA as evidenced by his debut book being an ALA Booklist Editor's Choice among other awesome reviews.

His award winning novel, Crossing, is about a Chinese teen who moves to America and grows up in an all white town. It's a mystery suspense which is quite different than most immigrant stories and I'm halfway through and loving it. The cover is also gorgeous isn't it? Here's the synopsis:
"A loner in his all-white high school, Chinese-born Xing (pronounced “Shing”) is a wallflower longing for acceptance. His isolation is intensified by his increasingly awkward and undeniable crush on his only friend, the beautiful and brilliant Naomi Lee. Xing’s quiet adolescent existence is rattled when a series of disappearances rock his high school and fear ripples through the blue collar community in which he lives.

Amidst the chaos surrounding him, only Xing, alone on the sidelines of life, takes notice of some peculiar sightings around town. He begins to investigate with the hope that if he can help put an end to the disappearances, he will finally win the acceptance for which he has longed. However, as Xing draws closer to unveiling the identity of the abductor, he senses a noose of suspicion tightening around his own neck. While Xing races to solve the mystery and clear his name, Crossing hurtles readers towards a chilling climax."
Andrew recently announced a new trilogy called The Hunt, which you can read all about here. The first book comes out Spring 2012 so you'll have plenty of time to read Crossing over and over by then.
Interview from Amazon page
Question: In what way is Crossing different from the typical immigrant novel?

Andrew: I wanted to depart from what we usually see in immigrant novels: instead of cloying and clich├ęd scenes of family meals, flowery mother-daughter relationships, and cathartic returns to the motherland, I wanted to layer questions of identity and ethnicity over a thriller plotline. In Crossing, this immigrant theme is propelled forward by the suspense generated in the ever-deepening mystery of the disappearances. This fusion of themes was a blend of my background: as an Asian American I was able to add depth to the ethnic theme; as a criminal prosecutor, I was able to develop nuances in the mystery aspect of the novel.
-Amazon page for Crossing-

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Neesha Meminger

Introducing the amazing Neesha Meminger! She debuted the same year as I did and her first book is all kinds of wonderful. Shine, Coconut Moon features Samar (aka Sam) and is about growing up Indian American in a post 9/11 world and finding pride and identity in her heritage. There are not a lot of great books like this, especially not in the young adult world, and Shine, Coconut Moon is a must read and I've recommended it to many friends. Well, a few weeks ago, Neesha's second book, Jazz in Love, released and I've included the synopsis below:
"Jasbir, a.k.a. Jazz, has always been a stellar student and an obedient, albeit wise-cracking, daughter. Everything has gone along just fine -- she has good friends in the 'genius' program she's been in since kindergarten, her teachers and principal adore her, and her parents dote on her. But now, in her junior year of high school, her mother hears that Jazz was seen hugging a boy on the street and goes ballistic.
Mom immediately implements the Guided Dating Plan, which includes setting up blind dates with "suitable," pre-screened Indian candidates. The boy her mother sets her up with, however, is not at all what anyone expects; and the new boy at school, the very unsuitable hottie, is the one who sets Jazz's blood boiling.
When Jazz makes a few out-of-the-ordinary decisions, everything explodes, and she realizes she'll need a lot more than her genius education to get out of the huge mess she's in. Can Jazz find a way to follow her own heart, and still stay in the good graces of her parents?"
-Jazz in Love-
I know what you're thinking: "I didn't even know there was a young adult book featuring an awesome Indian American main character, much less two!" Seriously, I can count the number of Indian American YA characters -- major or minor -- on about one and a half hands. Everyone needs to promote and support Neesha's works because they are so unique and from a perspective that is not heard from enough. I also highly recommend reading her guest post for Justine Larbalestier titled: "From Margin to Center: Writing Characters of Color."

What is additionally super cool about Jazz in Love is that Neesha chose to go the independent route and self publish this book because she wanted to story to be out in the world. I'm totally with that and I think she's a real trailblazer and showing every author that if you've got the cred to share a story that needs to be told now, D.I.Y! So go out and get Neesha's two fantastic books and cheer her on as we wait impatiently for a third.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

My mother was born the Year of the Tiger but despite our strict academically focused upbringing, she was no "tiger mother," as described by Amy Chua. Chua's article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago set off a whole storm of debate across the Internets. Her Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior article/excerpt from her just released book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," got thousands of comments and people alternately praising and condemning her. I got forwarded, Tweeted, Facebooked, Tumblred, and instant messaged about the article no less than a dozen times.

Because this is a book blog, I won't go into how I personally feel about Chua's article but will instead celebrate an Asian American author who is tearing up the Amazon charts -- currently number five overall. There's a good chance Chua will be the best selling Asian American author of 2011, and we're only two weeks in! I bet my mom would have pushed me much harder if she knew that all it took to move units was to harass me into excellence and then have me pass on that ethos when/if I start parenting.

People complain about Asian kids overrunning their finer institutions, those Asian kids complain about being stereotyped as nerds, and now this debate over which is the best way to raise your overachieving Sea Monkey. *Yawn* Seriously, are people just now getting hip to the idea that immigrant parents -- and many non-immigrant parents -- go to extreme measures to give their children a leg up on the competition?

Let's not forget that amidst all this (faux-)controversy, Chua is a very smart and successful lady, a professor of law at Yale, and has published a couple of other well received books with titles like "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (2004)" and "Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance -- and Why They Fall (2009)." In case you start with either of these two, Slate's Audio Book Club has selected Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for January so you probably want to rethink that decision -- unless you just really care more about how hyperpowers rose and fell instead of hard ass Asian parenting. I mean, both topics are equally relevant in my life today.

[Update: 1.13.2011] Jeff Yang's newest Asian Pop column, "Mother Superior?", puts some perspective on everything. And he contacts Chua to see what she has to say.
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