Issue 5: April 2017 OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS IN CHAOS
by Alex Laughlin
Welcome to #aznbooks2017, the monthly journal where I will be tracking my attempt to read only books by Asian authors in 2017. You can read more about the project here and follow updates in real time by following the #aznbooks2017 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and following me on Goodreads.
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Well, 2017 continues to become crazier and crazier. My attention has been so scattered this month because of major life changes (PS -- have you subscribed to my new podcast??). In one week, I'm going to be uprooting my life here in D.C. and moving up to New York to join Buzzfeed's PodSquad!
Somehow though I've managed to get some reading done, probably because end-of-day reading has been a reliable respite. This month's books continued a trend of upsetting sexual deviance which has unfortunately been a consistent theme throughout this project. Yay. Lucky Boy, Shanthi Sekaran
Lucky Boy is the story of two families -- two women -- who are bound to each other across national, cultural and economic lines in their love for one little boy.
This was a heartbreaking story that had me thinking a lot about the different narratives we tell ourselves about "good" immigrants and "bad" immigrants. Sekaran did an amazing job of duplicating deeply humanizing experiences on both sides of the story.
I would offer a brief trigger warning to anyone who might be upset by depictions of sexual assault, rape, or physical violence.
Oooh wee, this is the most gorgeous book I have read all year. This was the kind of writing that makes me want to read very, very slowly, because I don't want the experience to end.
Durga has a way of quietly observing the tiniest details in a way that deeply humanizes her writing. It was a delicious experience.
This book is for anyone interested in first generation narratives, but also for anyone who felt painfully awkward and observant as an adolescent.
"Nook people love signing with a heavy pen; don't mind waiting in the car; love sitting on a stack of banquet chairs in an empty banquet hall, feet dangling; appreciate surprising density of a beaded curtain; the weight of a pile of denim; grabbing a large Fuji apple with both hands; the twine of Joni singing, Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling and wish they too could live in a box of paints."
This was a book recommended by a friend and I'm really glad he slid it across the table at the bar where we were drinking. This was a timely examination of the last ten years of so of legislation and economic policies that led to the rise of the Movement for Black Lives -- and tracking that rise all the way up to Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.
Beyond the deep reporting on contemporary history, which I appreciated for some much-needed context, I was most interested in Chang's personal standpoint as an Asian man in today's racial discourse, which has been framed by #BlackLivesMatter. It has only been in the last year that I've become fully aware of the political tensions between the Asian and Black communities, and so it's interesting to read an analysis of that from an Asian perspective.
And that was April! I can't believe how quickly that month flew by. May will certainly be an interesting month, and I will definitely be reading at least one non-Asian book (what's up, Danzy Senna??).