Caster by Elsie Chapman: Lit CelebrAsian Author Interview

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Welcome to our interview with Elsie Chapman to celebrate the release of her new book, Caster! Pitched as a Chinese-inspired Fight Club with magic, it centres on sixteen-year-old Aza Wu, who enters an illegal underground magic casting tournament to save her family legacy and avenge her sister, and is filled with action, magic and twists.

Co-hosts Shenwei and Wendy both loved the book, and below are five reasons they think you should read Caster. For more detail, you can also check out their full reviews — a big thank you to Elsie Chapman and to Scholastic for the ARCs.

Review from Shenwei @ Reading Asian America

Review from Wendy @ Written in Wonder

Reasons to read CASTER:
Read More »

Interview: Marivi Soliven – Author of The Mango Bride

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Marivi has authored 17 books. Her debut novel The Mango Bride (Penguin, 2013) won Grand Prize at the Palanca Awards, the Philippine counterpart of the Pulitzer Prize, and has been translated into Spanish and Tagalog. The film adaptation is in production and will premiere in 2020. She is a fierce advocate and organizes literary fundraisers for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, and these efforts have helped, nine immigrant women gain legal residency and escape their abusive marriages. She continues to advocate for immigrant rights and concerns in her day job as a phone interpreter.

What was your favourite part of the writing process behind exploring different perspectives in the Filipino diaspora in The Mango Bride? Are there any other parts of the diaspora experience you’d like to explore in future?

My favourite part of the process was reconstructing the Manila of my childhood – the food, the homes, the women who smoked like chimneys while looking impossibly chic.  I’m still intrigued by the many aspects of the Filipino diaspora and am working on a second novel that portrays the first diasporic wave of Filipino farmworkers in the 20s and 30s.

Did you work as an interpreter impact or change the way you write?Read More »

Asian Lit Bingo 2019 Reading Challenge Announcement and Master Post

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We are back in 2019 for #AsianLitBingo – a month-long reading challenge during May! This is the master post with all the information for the reading challenge.

Background

Inspiration and Purpose: In the U.S., the month of May is Asian American Heritage Month*, so we thought, what better way to celebrate than to do a reading challenge that spotlights books with Asian characters and centers Asian voices? In publishing, there are power dynamics in play that marginalize Asian authors, especially those who write Asian characters and draw from their heritage for their writing. In the context of publishing in countries where white people are the majority/dominant group, diaspora Asians in those countries have a hard time breaking into publishing.

In a more global context, Asian writers in Asia have a hard to reaching a wider market beyond regional publishing due to their perceived foreignness, plus a general lack of infrastructure for translations for those that don’t write in English (and many do write in English). There are also double standards in the industry that facilitate publication for white authors writing Asian[-inspired] characters/settings/stories while Asian writers who write from the place of a cultural insider are often told their stories are “too Asian” or “not Asian enough.” For this reason, we feel it is especially important to highlight #ownvoices Asian stories, where the authors share the heritage of the characters they write about.

*May is technically designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. However, a number of Pasifika activists and friends have stated that lumping together Asian Americans with Pacific Islanders results in the erasure and co-opting of PIs and that they want to have their own spaces to discuss their issues. We are respecting that and keeping the two separate for this challenge.

We encourage readers to also support Pasifika spaces via Our Stories – Tala mai le Moana compiled by Lani Wendt Young, Pasifika Tales and the updated resources below.

Update: Back in 2017, Alec Te Pohe collected these useful Pasifika lit resources:

Māori and Pasifika Month Reads via Ruru Reads

Tina Makereti: five Māori and Pasifika favourites

Māori (and Pasifika) writing in 2017: Thalia Kehoe Rowden recommends 22 picture books that feature Pasifika and Māori children

Ministry of Education Pasifika and ESOL resources

HUIA Publishers

Pacific Island Books

Kōmako: A Bibliography of Māori writing in English

Asian Lit Bingo Scope:

Aside from the reading challenge, we have planned a few social media events to complement the challenge and celebrate Asian literature in other ways.  If you are an Asian blogger/vlogger/bookstagrammer/etc. and have your own idea for a post/video you want to make about Asian lit, go for it, and feel free to leave a comment here with the link so we can add it to the list. You can use this template for your blog header if you’d like.

The Hosts 

Meet the Lit CelebrAsian team at our team page. Some team members are taking a short break to focus on work commitments but our active #AsianLitBingo hosts for 2019 include:

Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA (#AsianLitBingo Creator)

Glaiza @ Paper Wanderer

Janani @ The Shrinkette

Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

Stephanie @ Igniting Pages

Wendy @ Written in Wonder

Kate @ Snarky Yet Satisfying

Reading Challenge Information

The reading challenge is a general challenge and also a contest with prizes!

The Hashtag

Use the hashtag #AsianLitBingo when posting on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr about the challenge. Check out what other people are reading and find posts and reviews related to the challenge by searching the hashtag.

The Setup

Similar to the Diversity Bingo challenge, the Asian Lit Bingo challenge takes the form of a bingo board, a 5 by 5 grid with 25 total prompts for books to read. The baseline goal is to read prompts for a single line, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally on the board, for a total of 5 books. Post your progress on Twitter with the hashtag #AsianLitBingo.

Eligible Books:

  • Fiction books should have an Asian main character (can be one of several main characters) and be by an Asian author to qualify. It does not have to be #ownvoices, but reading #ownvoices books is strongly encouraged!
  • Nonfiction books should be by an Asian author with a focus on Asian people, whether it’s a[n] [auto]biography, history book, essay collection, etc. A nonfiction book can count for prompts other than the nonfiction square provided that it that focuses on a person/group that corresponds to that prompt (e.g. an autobiography of a Asian trans woman could count for either the nonfiction category or the LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC category).
  • The free space is for any book with an Asian main character by an Asian author.

Below is the bingo board, designed by Aentee. Note: “MC” stands for “main character” (though as specified above, it can be a book about a real person).

 

Asian Lit Bingo 2019

Book SuggestionsRead More »

On The Importance of Difficult Themes in Picture Books – A Guest Post by Meera Sriram

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Picture books are an influential medium, they have the ability to make children ponder, imagine, and question. There’s so much beauty and power in their brevity and visual appeal. Growing up in India, I did not have access to this category of books. I was introduced to them as an adult. And as a parent raising kids in the U.S, I’ve relied on them for everything – from potty training and early learning to first-times and friendship woes. I fell in love with them so much that I followed my heart and began writing them. However, I often wonder about themes that are not commonly seen in mainstream picture books (while I find them more accessible in books that cater to older children). If you think about events, people, places, and experiences that young kids are exposed to on a daily basis through social interactions or via media, we don’t really include most of them in our stories.

Many families are caught up in all sorts of struggles, small and big, everyday or long term. And children are great observers and sensors – they notice, listen, and particularly pick up on the mildest disruptions. Why then do we shy away from centering stories around topics like poverty or terminal illness, alcoholism, disability, guns, divorce, adoption or death? These things happen to us, around us. All the time. When my kids lost their first grandparent in India, they were confused, their grief compounded by immigrant-life challenges. My daughter was 6.Read More »

Feb/Mar 2019 Readalong: Jade City by Fonda Lee!

Early happy lunar new year! We’re excited to share that we’re hosting a more casual readalong structure in 2019 for the book club.

To kick off the February + March readalong, join us for Jade City by Fonda Lee!

As it’s a flexible book club, feel free to join in whenever during the two months.

Update:

We’re excited to invite you to our Twitter Q&A #AsianLitChat with Fonda Lee, author of Jade City!

Friday, March 28 – 7pm PST / 10pm EST

Saturday, March 29 – 2pm AEDT / 4pm NZDT

Or add your city to the timezone converter to join in!

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We hope to see you there!