Postcards from Nam is an unusual book. It is a poem, it is a love letter, and it is a novel within the space of a novella. It is all these things and more. It tells the story of two Vietnamese children, Ma Chua (Mimi) and Nam. It speaks of how their lives intersect, of their unspoken friendship and love and reliance on one another. The story then details how these children are ripped apart by war, immigration and tragedy. It does it with a spare beauty of words lined with tension usually only seen in poetry. I read this book in a single afternoon – unable to put it down.
If you know nothing about the plight of those immigrants fleeing Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Burma, read this book. If ever you have any questions about the necessity for helping immigrants to leave the land of their birth, the land of their torture, read this book. It won’t take long. It might change a life. Maybe even your own.
In this week’s Shelf Awareness, there are two news tidbits of interest to those of us interested in Asian Lit:
Unfortunate news from the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, West Hollywood, Calif.: the sale by longtime owners Stan Madson and Phil Thompson to Karuana Gatimu and Lori Cutler (Shelf Awareness, September 21, 2011) has fallen through because the offer was “rescinded,” the store said.
“We had invested a great deal of hope and optimism in the offer agreement that, after many months of planning and negotiation, has come to naught,” the owners wrote. “As a consequence, we have re-contacted interested parties in the business to explore opening a new dialogue. We will make every effort to keep the Bodhi Tree going in the community. If you know of anyone who has an interest and seems qualified to assume and continue the business, please contact us. Time is critical but we remain hopeful.”
Madson and Thompson have already sold the building in which the Bodhi Tree located. A new owner will need to move the store.
Though a freak snowstorm kept many New Yorkers from venturing out last Saturday afternoon, quite a few authors and book lovers made their way to the third annual Page Turner Festival, benefiting the Asian American Writers Workshop. Alexander Chee was there to drum up some advance buzz for “Hot Asian Singles,” an e-book imprint the AAWW hopes to launch early next year that will publish a mix of fiction and nonfiction in the 6,000-20,000 word range.
“Part of what’s driving this is a sense that there was work that had been overlooked by the regular outlets both for its content and its size,” Chee explained. “Digital publishing is a way for us to bring out this kind of work without the costs that used to weigh us down when doing earlier anthologies.” Proceeds from Hot Asian Singles will be split between the writers and the AAWW, and Chee suggested that the workshop’s earnings might eventually support print projects. The first titles in the program will be announced soon; check @HotAsianSingles at Twitter for details.
According to Irene Watson, the managing editor at Reader Views, Amazon has made more changes to their reviewing policy. Recently, “they removed Reader Views’ reviews saying ‘We found your reviews to be in violation of our guidelines and have removed them. Because of these violations, we’ve removed your reviewing privileges from your account.’ This happened to Watson despite her reviews being approved by Amazon’s own staff. If you review books for Amazon and wish to keep your full privileges, you might want to check what Amazon’s current policies are.
For me, this probably means I will no longer review books on Amazon’s website and I have to wonder if that’s not their intent. Which is too bad. I appreciated the ability to write about my favorite books, but if anything I say could be removed, why waste my time? What do you think?
In a move that will bring its manga program very close to simultaneous English and Japanese publication, Viz Media plans to launch Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, a weekly digital serialized manga anthology. The new weekly digital anthology will debut in January 2012 and eventually replace Shonen Jump, the popular U.S. monthly print manga anthology Viz launched in 2002, which will be phased out in March 2012.
Rainmaker Entertainment and Jane Startz Productions are teaming up to bring us The Tiger’s Apprentice by Laurence Yep. The movie will star Asian-American teen Tom Lee, orphaned when his grandmother is killed, who is protected by a mystical tiger and three other creatures from the Chinese Zodiac.
And in other Asia-centric news this week, Flavorwire showcased “10 contemporary South Asian writers you should know… from the already much-lauded to the fresh faced and new on the scene.”
Well, thanks to follower, friend and critique buddy Janet Johnson, I have a blogging award to pass on.
According to Janet, the idea is “to share three under-the-radar blogs that I love and then visit the blogs everyone else mentions,” that is, the blogs of your visitors.
Well, I am definitely under-the-radar and nichey. LOL There’s no way around that. I’m not sure you can call Catwood’s blog “under-the-radar,” but she’s rebuilding her site. If you’ve ever done that, you’ll know you lose a whole bunch of followers, so I thought I’d post her link.
Hot Curries & Cold Beer is an excellent food blog by Rashda Khan, also known as Mina Khan, author of the Djinn’s Dilemma that I mentioned in my last post. She’s got more than one blog, but I do enjoy the food one and it’s deliciously a little under-the-radar. Yum.
Jeannie Lin’s blog is far from under-the-radar, but it is still related to my topic and therefore nichey. Head over there today. She’s got a great post on one of the differences between Western and Asian lit.