Asian American Writers: Universality of Stories
At ALIST, we love stories. We believe in following dreams and ambition, and we recognize the multitude of heartaches and struggles that can occur along the way. These recently released novels by Asian American writers tackle the universal motifs of desire, sex, tragedy, greed and more. They are entertaining and devastating stories about human experiences and connections (and disconnections) in a contemporary context.
Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfield: Greenfield’s debut novel, just released on July 31, paints a complex, but familial portrait of Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood. An unlikely group made up of an engineer, sculptor, producer, chef, memoirist, and gangster, is drawn together by circumstance and meet each morning at a coffee shop after taking their children to school. Each chapter features the perspective of a different character. The stories link, connect, and overlap in powerful ways to give the reader an intimate look at the shared ambitions, secrets, and passions of people. Greenfield, born in Japan and raised in Los Angeles, is the son of writers Josh Greenfield (known for the 1974 film “Harry and Tonto”) and Fumiko Kometani. Known for his writing about life in modern Asia, Greenfield is a versatile writer and journalist who has written sports articles, travel essays, creative non-fiction, short stories and more. His fiction and non-fiction have been featured in The Paris Review, and he has contributed to GQ and Vogue and served as an editor for the Tokyo Journal, Time Asia, and Sports Illustrated.
The Collective by Don Lee: Lee’s new book is sexy. The realist, collegiate novel, centering on three Asian American friends and artists, is reminiscent of a modernized, multicultural, and radical version of The Great Gatsby. The story is narrated from the perspective of Eric Cho, an aspiring writer and romantic. On his first day at Macalester College, he is drawn to the beautiful Jessica Tsai and the dynamic Joshua Yoon. Joshua is a charming, enthralling, and manipulative force who brings the three together to deal with campus racism. Years later, the friends reunite and create the 3AC, the Asian American Artists Collective, where they navigate egos and love triangles while trying to grow and succeed as artists…until Joshua triggers a series of devastating events. The novel explores racial identity and the conundrum of minority artists’ civic responsibility and engagement in issues of race and racism. You can read gripping first chapter on Lee’s website. Lee is a third-generation Korean American and has written three other books (Yellow, Wrack and Ruin, and Country of Origin) examining multicultural identities in contemporary landscapes.
Sorry Please Thank You (Stories) by Charles Yu: Pop culture lovers and science fiction enthusiasts will get a kick out of Yu’s imaginative new short story collection. The book is part-humor and part-heartbreak as Yu creates fictional worlds mired by technology based from his observations and insights on modern society. In his stories, workers are paid to feel strangers’ pain all day; a hero tries to lead his group of warriors and wizards across a virtual landscape; and a big-box store employee can confront zombies but can’t ask his co-worker on a date. People disconnect from their own human experience through technology. During an interview with Wired “Geekdad” writer Jonathan Liu, Yu discusses writing sad stories, Ray Bradbury, and fatherhood (the two of them also compare short stories to dim sum!).
If you are interested in reading more about Asian American writers, check out novelist, picture-book writer, and television screenwriter Paula Yoo. Have a book that we should add to our summer reading list? Let us know in the comments!