Asian Lit Bingo is almost at a close at the month of May comes to a wrap-up. I actually missed the announcement for this reading challenge and only wound up finding out about it part way through the month. As such I don’t think my participation counts under the rules but I wanted to take part anyways.
I had a lot of fun doing this reading challenge. I managed to read six books and am finishing up a seventh, just falling short of completing a line in two directions, which is the curse of being a mood reader when doing reading challenges. I’m also really happy that I managed to get a bunch of recommendation posts written up. I was aiming for five posts but fell short as things got busy.
- Part Four: Featuring Madeleine Thien, Vivek Shraya, Jillian Tamaki, Indra Das and Yoon Ha Lee
- Part Three: Featuring Eka Kurniawan, Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Eileen Chang
- Part Two: Featuring Rupi Kaur, Elisha Lim, Vincent Lam, Vivek Shraya, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
- Part One: Featuring Mary Anne Mohanraj, Ken Liu, Ted Chiang, Kim Thúy, and Saleema Nawaz
This post is technically going up early but I have some big reading and blogging plans for June as it’s Pride Month and National Aboriginal Month and I’m half way through my last book for #AsianLitBingo. Without further ado, here’s some mini reviews of the books I read for #AsianLitBingo.
East Asian MC: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin. My Fair Concubine is the third book in Lin’s Chinese Tang Dynasty romance series, although like most romance series each book features different characters. I’d been reading a lot of heavy literary fiction in May and just really needed something light to change my mood. I thankfully remembered Lin writes awesome historical romance set in China and managed to get a hold of one of her books. This is an excellent little book for summer reading. It’s cute, funny with moments of tension and intrigue, while also feeling true to the time period and research. Lin obviously does a lot of research for her books and does a really good job balancing between story and historical information without bashing the reader over their head with too much information or failing to give enough.
SFF with Asian MC: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. I’m currently rereading Ninefox Gambit in preparation of the release of the sequel next month. This books is beyond amazing. I loved it when I first picked it up and I love it even more during this reread as there’s so many little details that Lee had woven together and I missed or forgot about. This is a fantastic military space opera that I highly recommend everyone read. I cannot wait to get my hands of Raven Stratagem next month.
Graphic Novel with Asian MC: Monstress, Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda. Set in an alternative, matriarchal, steampunk Asia, Monstress is a fantastic graphic novel. The story is intriguing, the characters compelling, the history interesting and the art incredibly beautiful. I have no idea why it took me so long to pick this book up.
South East Asian MC: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a short story collection this much. The Refugees is a collection of refugee tales about the Vietnam war as people struggle to adapt to their new lives in the US, families are separated, people lost and the difficulty to maintain one’s culture when you are forced to leave your country. It’s a beautiful and impactful collection that reminded me a lot of In the Country by Mia Alvar. I highly recommend picking this collection up.
Historical Fiction with Asian MC: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I read a lot of books that ripped my heart out of my chest this month. I bought this book years ago in high school on a whim due to the cover and never picked it up until now. The amount of tears I shed while reading were worth it though. This is a tale of a broken family as Roy takes us backwards through time and in circles to pick up the pieces and lead to the event that changed everything. The prose is very lyrical as Roy manages to capture the voices of children exploring their home and growing up. [TW for domestic violence, sexual assault, murder, police brutality, childhood sexual abuse.]
Free Space: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto. Yoshimoto is one of Japan’s most prolific writers and I can see why. The Lake is a tale of romance and past trauma as a young woman moves to Tokyo after her mother’s death and develops a relationship with a young man in the apartment across the street from hers. But as their relationship develops she slowly starts to uncover and piece together bits of his past. The narrative voice in this book is one of its strongest points. The voice of Yoshimoto’s main character is very strong yet also a bit meandering as she leads the reader through her past and present.
Contemporary with Asian MC: Shelter by Jung Yun. I’m generally not a big reader of contemporary fiction, preferring to read genre fiction, but Shelter just blew me away. It’s a fantastic look at a crumbling family in the face of unexpected tragedy and horror. Yun does a fantastic job exploring these topics but also really fleshing out the characters. This is very much an immigrant story of attempting to reach the American dream and of figuring out how to be a father when you never had a normal relationship with your own.