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May is Asian Heritage Month, and the perfect chance to check out new and new-to-you books by Asian-Canadian writers.
Showing 1–16 of 109 results
In 2006, the Prime Minister apologized to the Chinese people for the legislated discrimination created by Canada’s head tax laws in the first half of the twentieth century, acknowledging the far-reaching and long-term consequences it has had on their families. A Cowherd in Paradise is the story of one such family.
The book chronicles the remarkable lives of Wong Guey Dang (1902–1983) and Jiang Tew Thloo (1911–2002). Ah Dang was born into an impoverished family and sold as a child. In 1921, his adoptive father paid a five-hundred-dollar head tax to send Ah Dang to Canada. Eight years later, driven to create a family of his own, Ah Dang returned to China, where he chose Ah Thloo as his bride from a matchmaker’s photo.
As a child, Ah Thloo worked as a cowherd and from the age of six was responsible for her family’s fortune—their water buffalo. Ah Thloo not only became a wife and mother, but also grew to be a courageous defender against invaders and a champion of the weak.
Married for over half a century, the couple was forced to live apart for twenty-five years because of Canada’s exclusionary immigration laws. In Canada, Ah Dang became a successful Montreal restaurateur; while in China, Ah Thloo struggled to survive through natural disasters, wars, and revolutions. A Cowherd in Paradise is the moving tale of one couple’s search for love, family, and forgiveness.
This is a unique novel of old China, the traditional landscapeof mountains and rivers without end, and life in an imperial city rife with plots, intrigues, culture, sensuality and wealth.
Li Wen, a landscape painter of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), is on a journey to deliver a message to the Chinese Emperor. His teacher has instructed him to paint four landscapes, one for each season, during the year it will take him to travel across China to the Emperor’s Court where he is to present the paintings to the Emperor as a long-life gift. A series of gripping adventures befall Li Wen on his journey, including burial in an ancient tomb and a snowstorm that nearly ends his quest.
The KANAVUCCHIRAI quintet develop the context of Sri Lanka’s tragic civil war. As the youth in the island village of Nainativu realize that their education and prospects are being curtailed by an increasingly Sinhala majoritarian nationalist government, they begin to rise up in opposition. Volumes 1 and 2, through its main characters, the young woman Rajalakshmi and her betrothed, Suthan, described the growth of the armed struggle from the 1980s onwards as the young people sail to Tamil Nadu in India to join the resistance.
Volumes 3 and 4 return to the micro-environment of Nainativu and the main island of Sri Lanka and the Tamil struggle as it takes shape there. Volume 5 returns to the surviving characters from the first two volumes, and serves more as an afterward that places their story in a global context, as international actors enter the scene. These novels also bring in other characters that speak to the different political and ideological movements at the time: both militant and pacifist, leftist and nationalist. Devakanthan shows how different political movements drew inspiration from each other, and how divisions appeared and grew within what was first seen as an unshakeable organization.
Devakanthan’s characters are richly detailed, both male and female protagonists endowed with internal lives. The quintet thoughtfully and sensitively narrates the story of simple men and women trapped within a national struggle. As a whole it describes how a movement united by lofty goals begins to fall apart, as disagreements appear and former allies go their separate ways.
The quintet won the Government of Tamil Nadu Novel of the Year Award (1998) for THIRUPPADAIYAATCHI (His Sacred Army), and the Tamil Literary Garden’s Best Novel Award (Canada, 2014).
Plagued by the success of his first book and haunted by his past, Sin Hwang arrives in Hong Kong with some unusual cargo and a lot of emotional baggage. Featuring a surreal cast of characters, from a foul-mouthed Paddington Bear to a wisecracking Buddhist monk, this sharply comedic and heartbreakingly poignant tale of self, familial, and spiritual discovery reflects the cycles from which we must all break free as we find our way.
What is the nature of Banana? To Luke, Dave, Mike, and Sheldon, it’s a curious predicament brought on by upbringing — growing up yellow on the outside, white on the inside. They’re together to pay their last respects to Rick, the one Banana Boy who seemed to have it all, but was found dead in his living room, apparently of suicide.
The tragedy that has reunited the Banana Boys becomes the point from which we are introduced to the intertwined stories of a group of young friends caught in cultural and social limbo. Not really Chinese and not quite Canadian, the Banana Boys stumble through situations, incidents and interactions that ultimately explore the nature of identity and reveal the possibilities each character has within himself.
Peppered with piercing insights and laced with comic anecdotes, Banana Boys provides unforgettable texture to the ordinary — and extraordinary — tribulations of being twentysomething, male, and Asian in Canada.
As beautiful and varied as an archipelago, barangay is an elegant new collection of poetry from Adrian De Leon that gathers in and arranges the difficult pieces of a scattered history. While mourning the loss of his grandmother who “lived, loved and grieved in three languages,” De Leon skips his barangay, which is both a boat and an administrative unit in the Philippine government, over the history of both his family and a nation. In these poems De Leon considers the deadly impact of colonialism, the far-reaching effects of the diaspora from the Philippines and the personal loss of his ability to speak Ilokano, his grandmother’s native tongue. These are spare, haunting poems, which wash over the reader like the waves of the ocean the barangays navigated long ago and then pull the reader into their current like the rivers De Leon left behind.
Half-Asian teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is not a perfect little supermom-in-the-making like her older sister Jessica, and would rather become a marine biologist than a mother–although she does understand how to take care of her special-needs kid brother Squid better than anyone else in her family. When her mother Belinda abruptly runs out on her family and flies across the Atlantic in order to study crop circles in the English countryside, Grace is left alone to puzzle out her life, the world, and her unique place within it.
With a warmth and a boisterous sense of humour reminiscent of Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness and Peter Hedges’ What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? author Corinna Chong introduces us to two lovable and thoroughly original female characters: persnickety, precocious Grace, and her impractical, impulsive mother Belinda–very different women who nevertheless persistently circle back into each other’s hearts.
In this new collection, award-winning author Lien Chao weaves together these emotionally charged short stories focusing on Chinese immigrants in Toronto’s multiracial neighbourhoods. In Chinatown and mixed neighbourhoods, in condos and tenements, in public parks and in college, the protagonists of these stories find love, face loneliness, confront generational crises, and overcome racial stereotypes as they evolve and grow in this exciting, ever-changing multicultural society.
Chinksta rap is all the rage in Red Deer, Alberta. And the king of Chinksta is King Kwong, Run’s older brother. Run isn’t a fan of Kwong’s music – or personality, really. But when Kwong goes missing just days before his crowning performance and their mom gets wounded by a stray bullet, Run finds himself, with his sidekick, Ali, in the middle of a violent battle between Red Deer’s rival gangs – the Apes and the Necks – on the run from his crush’s behemoth brother, and rethinking his feelings about his family and their history, his hatred of rice-rap and what it means to be Asian.
At eight years old, Grace Eiko Nishikihama was forcibly removed from her Vancouver home and interned with her parents and siblings in the BC Interior. Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms is a moving and politically outspoken memoir written by Grace, now a grandmother, with passages from a journal kept by her late mother, Sawae Nishikihama. An educated woman, Sawae married a naturalized Canadian man and immigrated to Canada in 1930. They came with great hopes and dreams of what Canada could offer them. However, within just a little more than a decade after settling happily in Paueru Gai (Powell Street) area, her dreams, and those of her husband’s, were completely shattered.
It was 1942 and more than 22,000 Japanese Canadians on the West Coast were interned and had their belongings, property and homes confiscated, and then sold off by the Government of Canada. After the war ended, restrictions on Japanese Canadians’ movement continued for another four years and the Government ordered anyone of Japanese ancestry to move “east of the Rockies,” or be deported to Japan. There was nothing on the West Coast to return to, so the Nishikihama family moved first to rural Manitoba and, when government restrictions were lifted, later to Winnipeg.
At eighty-four years of age, Sawae began writing her memories for her children, ensuring they would know their family’s story. While translating her mother’s journal, Grace began to add her own experiences alongside her mother’s, exploring how generational trauma can endure, and how differently she and her mother interpreted those years of struggle.
Despite her years spent studying art and working as a gallery director and curator, translating her mother’s writings, and her country’s perceived efforts to simply move on from a dark period in Canada’s history, Grace continues to seek an understanding of her past, while facing both sexism and racism. As an advocate for reconciliation, she openly shares her story with the next generations; throughout, Grace returns to her mother’s teachings of hope and resilience symbolized in the cherry blossoms around what was once their home.
Since its publication in 1994, Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms has been recognized as a true classic of Canadian literature. One of the initial entries in NeWest Press’ long-running Nunatak First Fiction Series, Hiromi Goto’s inaugural outing was recognized at the Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes as the Best First Book in the Caribbean and Canadian regions that year, as well as becoming co-winner of the Canada-Japan book award. Goto’s acclaimed feminist novel is an examination of the Japanese Canadian immigrant experience, focusing on the lives of three generations of women in modern day Alberta to better understand themes of privilege and cultural identity. This reprinting of the landmark text includes an extensive afterword by Larissa Lai and an interview with the author, talking about the impact the book has had on the Canadian literary landscape.
Philippine-born Vancouverite Sophia is most grateful for two things: her modest hair salon and Adrian, her mild-mannered fiancé. She is eager to get married, move away from her highly educated but career-frustrated parents, who believe that their daughter can be so much more than a beautician.
Then Sophia’s estranged friend reaches out from Manila, desperate for help. After a dubious accident, her fiery Auntie Rosy is on the verge of losing the Cine Star Salon–the place where Sophia first felt the call to become a hairstylist and salon owner. Coming to her auntie’s aid is not so easy though. Sophia worries helping might reopen old wounds and threaten the bright future she has planned.
Leah Ranada’s debut novel is a graphic and engaging depiction of the importance of women’s work and the loyalties that connect friends across oceans. The Cine Star Salon marks the entry of a vital new voice in Canadian literature.
In her debut collection, Canadian National Slam Champion Nisha Patel commands her formidable insight and youthful, engaged voice to relay experiences of racism, sexuality, empowerment, grief, and love. These are vitally political, feminist poems for young women of colour, with bold portrayals of confession, hurt, and healing.
Coconut rises fiercely like the sun. These poems bestow light and warmth and the ability to witness the world, but they ask for more than basking; they ask readers to grow and warn that they can be burnt. Above all, Nisha Patel’s work questions and challenges propriety and what it means to be a good woman, second-generation immigrant, daughter, consumer, and lover.
From Leacock finalist Ali Bryan, a witty and immensely fun dramedy about a family’s memorial trip to the City of Love, where chaos ensues at every turn.
It’s been ten years since Claudia’s mother died after a tragic collision with a banana boat. Her kids are now teenagers, her brother’s wife has left him, and her ex has had a spiritual awakening that has him hinting at reconciliation—all things she can handle.
But when her septuagenarian father decides to remarry after a brief courtship with a woman who is decidedly different than their mother, the entire family is thrown off course, and plans a long overdue memorial trip to the only place their mother ever dreamed of going: Paris. However, minutes after take-off, the trip takes an unpredictable turn and sets off a chain of events that threatens to derail the closure the family desperately seeks.
Chance meetings, poolside confessions, run-ins with mimes, climate protests, and a man with a death wish force Claudia to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, both the familial and the romantic, the tragic and the sublime. How well do we really know those closest to us? And how well do we really know ourselves?
In this follow-up to her award-winning novel Roost, Ali Bryan explores thorny family dynamics with her trademark offbeat humour and insight. Coq is a darkly comedic contemporary family drama that explores grief, identity, and second chances in the one-and-only City of Love.
Growing up in a small, riverside town, Little Bright is thrusted into the political whirlwinds along with his family during China’s Cultural Revolution. When a reversal of the winds of reform blows through the land, however, he learns the once-forbidden tongue—English—which lends wings to his sense and sensibility. At college, he adopts a new English name, Victor. With the deepening of his knowledge of the English language, he begins to place himself under the tutelage of Pavlov, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare.
When the story unravels, however, Victor’s un-Chinese passion and tension threaten to topple his moral world and mental universe. Now, he must wade into an uncharted journey to unlock the dilemma and to unearth his destiny.
Drawing on his own life experiences, George Lee has fashioned an unforgettable coming-of-age story about fate and faith, good and evil, power of imagination and storytelling, and, above all, wonder of English literature.