Reviewed @LysleyTenorio’s new novel THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE over at @SFC_Datebook #sfchronicle #bookreview #writingcommuntiy

With the Supreme Court recently upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a path to legal status for qualified undocumented immigrants, Lysley Tenorio’s funny and poignant second novel, “The Son of Good Fortune,” couldn’t come at a better time. Concerning an undocumented Filipino American family living in Colma, the book portrays the murky ethics of America’s treatment of the illegal immigrant.

Excel is a 19-year-old TNT, tago ng tago, Tagalog for “hiding and hiding.” His mother, Maxima, gave birth on the plane to the U.S. Neither American nor Filipino, Excel is a true nowhere man. “I’m not really here,” he says to his girlfriend, Sab.

Both Excel and Maxima are denied a path to legal status and live a life on the margins. Hotels and passports are foreign to them, and acronyms like TSA require Googling to be decoded. Maxima, a former actress in bad Filipino action movies, is relegated to scamming lonely white men online, while Excel works under the table at a spy-themed pizza joint named The Pie Who Loved Me, whose tyrant owner whimsically decides when and when not to pay Excel. Stifled and lovesick, Excel follows Sab to Hello City, a desert artist community, where his life only gets more complicated, driving him back to Maxima for help.

Read the rest of the review here.

Talked to @thelondonmag about the comic novel and BAD ASIAN! #readindie #buyindie #writingcommunity

Which comic writer would you say had the most influence on No Good Very Bad Asian?

I’d say Artie Lange, whose memoir Too Fat to Fish really moved me and inspired Sirius Lee. Lange’s not my favourite comedian, but his life story of growing up in a working class family, rising to success, and then falling prey to the excesses that a comedian’s life offers transcended the typical celebrity memoir. As a reader, you really feel that psychic and emotional void he can’t fill no matter how many laughs he gets, no matter how famous he becomes. That’s what I tried to get at with Sirius.

It’s been said that some countries, like Italy and Germany, don’t really recognise the genre of the comic novel. Would you say it’s harder to publish comic novels in America?

Is that right? I’m no expert on Italian or German novels but Gabrielle Tergit’s novel Käsebier Takes Berlin was quite hilarious to me. Any character named Cheese Beer is going to make me laugh. I also find wit in Ferrante’s and Starnone’s novels. I’d say it’s hard to publish any novel in America, and if one wanted to, they could point to almost any type of novel and find it hard to publish. That said, comedic novels are often seen as less literary than their dour counterparts.

Read the rest of the interview here.

NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN on this #readinglist by @vanessa_hua @electriclit – “10 Books About Model Minorities Behaving Badly” – Get Them All! #writingcommunity

Q. What’s an Asian F?

A. An A-.

Q. What’s the Asian Triple threat?

A. Medical doctor, researcher, and professor

 

When people have asked me about my short story collection, Deceit and Other PossibilitiesI’ve joked it’s about “model minorities behaving badly.” My characters—immigrants and the children of immigrants—attempt to fake it until they make it, to hold together their family and their identity. The secrets and lies are a mechanism not only for harmony, but also for survival.

Model minorities are said to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than average. For decades, white conservatives have used the perceived success of Asian Americans as a racial wedge, to minimize the impact of structural racism on blacks and Latinos. See: Harvard admissions lawsuit. See: admissions to elite public high schools in New York.

The myth also turns Asian Americans into a monolith, masking huge variations in language, culture, and educational and economic status within the community. ”

My collection—now reissued with additional new stories—subverts these stereotypes and expectations. What follows here are books that shatter such myths in ways poignant and funny, dark and light.”

Check out Vanessa Hua’s reading list at Electric Literature.

“Comedy as Coping Mechanism” @alex_behr and me talk over @propellermag #interview #novel #comedy #indie #publishing #writingcommunity

“MY GOOD FRIEND Leland Cheuk named his Brooklyn-based indie publishing company, 7.13 Books, after an auspicious day in 2014. That year he’d been struggling against a potentially lethal form of pre-leukemia that had landed him in an isolation ward in New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I’d met him in a writing class in 2001 and liked him instantly. I visited him on July 4, 2014, sterilizing my hands, making small talk through a mask with him and his wife, Jessi, and feeling all our actions and words had a physical and mental scrim in this disease land that shouldn’t be his land. We knew without stating it that my brief visit could be the last. But he still made jokes—always. In an essay about his illness in Salon he writes: “My wife tried to shave my head, and we laughed at her tentativeness with the clippers. She had never shorn anyone before. She left the back of my head mostly untouched, which made me look like I was trying to grow a chemo mullet.” Fortunately, on July 13, after a bone marrow transplant, his red blood cell counts moved up. The transplant saved his life. And later that day he got an email announcing a book deal for his first novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong.

Leland has been to many prestigious residencies, including MacDowell, taught at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and elsewhere, has two novels and a short story collection published, is working on another novel and collection, and has written numerous reviews, essays, and short fiction. Leland is generous, not only with the authors he’s published, but also with close friends. (At his wedding dinner party in 2009, piles of books formed centerpieces down the tables as party gifts; I snagged Out Stealing Horses.) His take on life can be dry and cutting; it’s informed and perceptive, but not pretentious. He’s clear about what he can—and can’t—do for his authors. (In 2018, he published my debut collection of short stories.) I’ve fewer friends as honest as he.

As the white adoptive mother of a child born in China, I can tell Leland things I would tell few others. At a bar, in texts, or on the phone, he’s always willing to listen when I talk to him about my son’s experiences with racism, both as recipient and—sometimes—as perpetrator. Despite our efforts, my son has internalized some negative stereotypes, much like the anti-hero protagonist in Leland’s second novel, No Good Very Bad Asian (C&R Press). The book is in the form of a confessional letter by Sirius Lee—a Chinese American comic and film star—to his young daughter. NGVBA dives into stereotypes and codes we ascribe to people unlike us, and culturally determined roles we inhabit to our detriment. Sirius Lee copes with bullying and the vicissitudes of fame, addiction, abandonment, infidelity, chronic illness, glass ceilings based on bigotry, Hollywood’s fickleness, and parental grief. So go out and buy it already. —Alex Behr”

Read the interview over at Propeller Magazine