“Few literary heroes are more ubiquitous and enduring to multiple generations of Asians around the world than Monkey of the 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng’en.
Considered one of the Four Classic Novels of Chinese literature, the sprawling, picaresque fable has been adapted into countless films, TV shows, stage plays and children’s books in Asia. Monkey King: Journey to the West, a new translation from Penguin Classics, serves as a solid primer for Western neophytes.”
Read the rest of the review at the San Francisco Chronicle.
‘Nights When Nothing Happened’ Is Quietly Lovely — Maybe A Little Too Quiet
“One of the epigraphs in Simon Han’s debut novel Nights When Nothing Happened is a line from “Epistle,” a Li-Young Lee poem: “Before it all gets wiped away, let me say, there is wisdom in the slender hour which arrives between two shadows.” Nights When Nothing Happened is very much about the private, shadowy parts of ordinary lives, but Han’s evocative writing is anything but ordinary.”
Read the rest over at NPR.
Susie Yang’s ‘White Ivy’ is an entertaining character study of a social climber with a secret
“From “The Great Gatsby” to “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” novels about social climbing and high society never seem to go out of style. Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” is a classic of this prolific category, and Susie Yang’s debut novel, “White Ivy,” so echoes Wharton’s best-known book that even the protagonist’s name, Ivy Lin, sounds like Lily Bart.”
Read the rest over at The Washington Post.
“One of the most common premises in recent Asian American fiction is the young American seeking truth and connection from absent parents. From Ocean Vuong’s “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” to Lisa Ko’s “The Leavers,” these books speak to the metaphysical and literal family separation inherent to the immigrant experience for many.
The latest addition to this category is Meng Jin’s debut novel “Little Gods,” which begins in arresting fashion when Su Lan, an ambitious physicist, gives birth in a Beijing hospital on June 4, 1989, the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Moments after her girl is born, the hospital transforms from a place that ushers in new life to one overflowing with death.”
Read the rest of the review here.
“Any writer who attempts comedy has considered the maxim, ‘Being funny is never enough.’ They have, likewise, considered the corollary, ‘Until it is.’ As a writer, you can be funny enough—accepting the innate subjectivity of humor—that little to nothing else matters. You can make your reader forget holes in character, plot, and story by achieving the comic writer’s Holy Grail of making them laugh again and again.
But simply being funny isn’t enough for literary comedy (or its subcategories satire and black comedy). The balance between comic and serious is crucial in literary comedy. Stray too far in either direction and you fail, becoming simplistic on one hand, boring on the other. While a perfect balance is admittedly impossible, never mind a matter of taste, Leland Cheuk does an admirable job in his latest, No Good Very Bad Asian, achieving a true synthesis of heart and humor highlighted by the fluidity of his first-person voice and a steady diet of sharp turns of prose.”
Read the rest at The Brooklyn Rail.