May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and Asian American and Pacific Islander Month in the US and there’s been a lot of discussion about books by Asian authors online, both from the US and Canada and translated works. As the month comes to a close with one week remaining, perhaps you’re considering picking up a new book or are looking for a last minute read for #AsianLitBingo. So this week I’ll be posting a series of blogs featuring some of my favourite books by Asian Canadian and Asian American authors, translated books from Asia, and books I’m looking forward to reading.
- Part One: Featuring Mary Anne Mohanraj, Ken Liu, Ted Chiang, Kim Thúy, and Saleema Nawaz
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: I’m pretty sure everyone on the internet must be familiar with Milk and Honey by the amount of attention its received from traditional publishing news sources and Tumblr. Although a pretty quick read, Milk and Honey is a really impactful little collection that speaks to coming of age, love, and body acceptance in one of the most real ways I’ve ever read.
100 Crushes by Elisha Lim: Part interviews, part stories, part journal, 100 Crushes is a beautifully drawn non-fiction graphic novel centred on trans and queer voices talking about gender and identity. Lim does a really good job capturing a wide range of emotion of the page in their interviews and drawings. Although some parts of the collection don’t fit together the best, this is still a graphic novel you should check out.
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam: This is another one of the those CanLit books that was huge, winning the 2006 Giller Prize, and then seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures is a series of interconnected stories about four young medical students and their relationships with each other, their patients and their families. It starts as they’re studying to get into med school and follows them through out their careers. I read this collection many years ago in high school and really loved it although I’m way overdue for a reread.
She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya: Vivek Shraya is currently better known for her first poetry collection even this page is white, but I’ve always loved her novel She of the Mountains. Part hindu mythology, part love story about grappling with identity, She of the Mountains follows an unnamed bisexual Indian man from Alberta who struggle understanding his sexual and racial identity in a world that places a huge emphasis on ‘picking a side’. The book is also beautifully illustrated, adding extra depth to the story. As a note, this book was published before Shraya publicly transitioned and uses incorrect pronouns in her author bio. Hopefully this is something that will be fixed in future reprints.
Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: Bodymap is another excellent collection of poetry more people should check out. Piepzna-Samarasinha’s poetry is vivid, focusing on topics of queer desire, bodies, disability and other intersecting topics. I also really need to reread this collection, because it’s worth reliving.