America is experiencing a moral crisis around immigration. Our current administration’s policies and priorities allow for families to be torn apart, children’s lives to be placed in jeopardy, and misleading “facts” to stoke existing racial tensions into a fire of unnecessary hatred and fear.
In a political climate such as this, Go Home! is crucial reading material. Forthcoming next month on March 13 from Feminist Press, the anthology gathers writing on home from writers including Alexander Chee, Karissa Chen, Alice Sola Kim, Chang-Rae Lee, T Kira Madden, Rajiv Mohabir, Jennifer Tseng, Esmé Weijun Wang, Wendy Xu, and more. We asked editor Rowan Hisayo Buchanan to share a reading list in celebration of the book’s release.
From big five publishers to tiny indie chapbook presses, these books are a sample of the wide-ranging talents that contributed to Go Home!.
In the Country by Mia Alvar
In these nine globe-trotting tales, Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s stories explore the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined.
Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol
At university in Manila, young, bookish Soledad Soliman falls in with radical friends, defying her wealthy parents and their society crowd. Drawn in by two romantic young rebels, Sol initiates a conspiracy that quickly spirals out of control. Years later, far from her homeland, Sol reconstructs her fractured memories, writing a confession she hopes will be her salvation.
Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur
In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie,” the British name for indentured laborers who replaced newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman disappeared into history. In Coolie Woman, her great-granddaughter Gaiutra Bahadur embarks on a journey into the past to find her. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother’s story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other coolie women, shining a light on their complex lives.
Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old. Harmless Like You is a suspenseful novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships, and familial bonds that asks―and ultimately answers―how does a mother desert her son?
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee
Here is Chee’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
Meditations on My Name by Karissa Chen
In this series of interconnected non-fiction vignettes, Karissa Chen renders an elegiac and informative meditation on the power of a name and the moments in which we most feel like ourselves.
Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems by Marilyn Chin
Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems will be forthcoming in October, 2018 from W.W. Norton. It is a generous greatest hits album, alongside a brand-new eclectic section of poems, manifestos, and translations.
Brain Fever: Poems by Kimiko Hahn
In Brain Fever, Hahn integrates the recent findings of science, ancient Japanese aesthetics, and observations from her life as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, and artist. Rooted in meditations on contemporary neuroscience, Brain Fever takes as its subject the mysteries of the human mind―the nature of dreams and memories, the possibly illusory nature of linear time, the complexity of conveying love to a child. Equally inspired by Sei Shonagon’s tenth-century Pillow Book and the latest findings of cognitive research, Brain Fever is a thrilling blend of the timely and the timeless.
Hagar Poems by Mohja Kahf
The central matter of this daring new collection is the story of Hagar, Abraham, and Sarah—the ancestral feuding family of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These poems delve into the Hajar story in Islam. They explore other figures from the Near Eastern heritage, such as Mary and Moses, and touch on figures from early Islam, such as Fatima and Aisha. Throughout, there is artful reconfiguring. Readers will find sequels and prequels to the traditional narratives, along with modernized figures claimed for contemporary conflicts. Hagar Poems is a compelling shakeup of not only Hagar’s story but also of current roles of all kinds of women in all kinds of relationships.
More Than Mere Light by Jason Koo
In his third full-length collection, Jason Koo engages in an unsparing and radical exploration of self, touching on themes of Asian American identity and sexuality, the difficulties of romantic relationships, and the banalities and triumphs of everyday life in Brooklyn. Drawing inspiration from the methodology of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, a highlight of the collection is the exquisite long poem “No Longer See,” an unflinching self-examination versed in unrhymed elegiac couplets. More Than Mere Light is a singular book of poems, opening up previously underexplored areas of American life.
Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World by Amitava Kumar
To be a writer, Amitava Kumar says, is to be an observer. The twenty-six essays in Lunch with a Bigot are Kumar’s observations of the world put into words. A mix of memoir, reportage, and criticism, the essays include encounters with writers Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, discussions on the craft of writing, and a portrait of the struggles of a Bollywood actor. The title essay is Kumar’s account of his visit to a member of an ultra-right Hindu organization who put him on a hit-list. In these and other essays, Kumar tells a broader story of immigration, change, and a shift to a more globalized existence, all the while demonstrating how he practices being a writer in the world.
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.
The Cowherd’s Son by Rajiv Mohabir
Mohabir’s inheritance of myths, folk tales, and multilingual translations make a palimpsest of histories that bleed into one another. A descendant of indentureship survivors, the poet-narrator creates an allegorical chronicle of dislocations and relocations, linking India, Guyana, Trinidad, New York, Orlando, Toronto, and Honolulu, combining the amplitude of mythology with direct witness and sensual reckoning, all the while seeking joy in testimony.
Ponti by Sharlene Teo
Told from the perspectives of all three women, Ponti is an exquisite story of friendship and memory spanning decades. Infused with mythology and modernity, with the rich sticky heat of Singapore, it is at once an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of teenagehood, and a vivid exploration of how tragedy can make monsters of us.
Not so dear Jenny by Jennifer Tseng
Not so dear Jenny is a collection of poems made with the poet’s Chinese father’s English letters. At once conversation and argument, white flag and last battle, Not so dear Jenny is a portrait of an immigrant, the history of a family, a letter to a dead father and to death itself. This posthumous valentine functions as a morbid factory of love, making letters out of letters and enacting what it means to simultaneously lose someone and commune with them―the paradox of grief and all it gives us.
The Border of Paradise by Esmé Weijun Wang
In booming postwar Brooklyn, the Nowak Piano Company is an American success story. There is just one problem: the Nowak’s only son, David. A handsome kid and shy like his mother, David struggles with neuroses. If not for his only friend, Marianne, David’s life would be intolerable. When David inherits the piano company at just eighteen and Marianne breaks things off, David sells the company and travels around the world. In Taiwan, his life changes when he meets the daughter of a local madame—beautiful, sharp-tongued Daisy. Returning to the United States, the couple (and newborn son) buy an isolated country house in Northern California’s Polk Valley. As David’s mental health deteriorates, he has a brief affair with Marianne, producing a daughter. When Marianne appears at their doorstep, the couple’s fateful decision to take the child as their own determines a tragic course of events for the entire family.
Phrasis by Wendy Xu
Wendy Xu articulates the whole world by freezing it all at once, looking closely at its parts, and zeroing in on the one image or phrase or feeling that makes the day seem possibly beautiful under all the scaffolding, sirens, and other natural (analog and online) interruptions that make up daily living.
Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience edited by Piyali Bhattacharya
Good Girls Marry Doctors is filled with honest stories, difficult and joyous, heartbreaking and hilarious, from a diverse array of powerful women. These narratives combine to expose struggles that are too often hidden from the public eye, while reminding those going through similar experiences that they are heard, and they are not alone.
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you—however many generations you’ve been here—but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms. Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of color as bad immigrants—job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees—until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and—most importantly—real.
The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward
Ward takes James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time. The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future.
And One For Luck
A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
Amitava Kumar wanted to make special mention of this book. He was energized by Kincaid’s use of the second person to address oppressive institutions.
Finally, the Book Itself
Go Home! edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
“Go home!” is always a slur, but often also an impossibility; this collection explores the words’ personal and political dimensions. Asian diasporic writers imagine “home” in the twenty-first century through an array of fiction, memoir, and poetry. Both urgent and meditative, this anthology moves beyond the model-minority myth and showcases the singular intimacies of individuals figuring out what it means to belong. Go Home! is published in collaboration with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.