“This book comes from an important voice of our time. Where some pre-election fiction is aging quickly and badly, these stories stand attuned to our country and its dimming prospects and isolation amidst a hive.”
“Oh, Millennials. Gen X’s little buddies, who took our legacy of dissipation and doubt and made poetry of it. Our two generations: lives without world war, full of media, parents who are obliged to work a lot to stay afloat, economic lives debt-ridden at age eighteen. Gen X witnessed the flame (though not the warmth) of Boomer prosperity, and Millennials see only a wisp of smoke. Letters from Dinosaurs is a post-apocalyptic work from that vantage point.
The apocalypse is not a singular event but decades of greed eroding a formerly solid middle class, and the resulting general sense of anxiety. Student loan repayments are larger than monthly rent; meanwhile on every screen, we see youthful billionaires espousing enlightened ideas of how you can attain the dream, too. Living through this is the main job of Millennial characters in Letters.”
Read the rest here.
In which, regarding the publishing industry, I say: “The System Is Rigged!”
“I first met Leland Cheuk when he read for Dead Rabbits — a reading series I co-host in New York City. Thoughtful, charismatic, and passionate about his work and the work of others, he immediately struck me as someone thinking on multiple planes about art and its role within the world. His writing operates in the same way; The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong is at once heartwarming and wrenching, examining heritage, immigrant life, and injustice in America with bite and comedic verve.
After publishing his first two books, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (CCLaP Publishing, 2015) and Letters from Dinosaurs (Thought Catalog Books, 2016), he’s now moving into publishing. I talked with Leland over the course of a few days via email, discussing his new endeavor, 7.13 Books, the state of modern publishing, and issues of inclusivity, diversity, and more.
The Millions: So, tell me about the mission of 7.13 Books. As we both know, there’s a wealth of small presses in the world now. What separates 7.13 from them? What unites it with them?”
Read the rest here.
The Asian American Literature That Got Me Through 2016, by R.O. Kwon
“Donald Trump, Brexit, Marine Le Pen, Alternative for Germany (AfD), the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders—2016 has been a banner year for nativists and white supremacists, and I’ll join in with all those lamenting a catastrophic year’s events. Not everything’s been hateful, though. I’ve loved, in particular, one heartening trend countering the upsurge of xenophobia: this year’s bonanza of English-language fiction published by writers of Asian descent.”
Read the rest of the article here.
“I think I’m trying, through comedy, to raise serious questions about the way we live and what we value as a contemporary society.”
“A few years ago, the author, Leland Cheuk, joined my writing group. Except then he was the writer, Leland Cheuk. The personal statement part of his application described one novel, his writing sample was an excerpt of another, and once he was in our group, he shared with us countless short and very short stories. The overall impression was that this guy was prolific and that he also had a huge cache of finished work. Well I think first impressions were correct, and in short order it seemed Leland was constantly publishing his short stories. Then about a year after he joined us, following a routine blood test, Leland found out he had a very rare blood cancer and needed to undergo a bone marrow transplant, and live in semi-isolation for a long time. We didn’t see Leland for over a year. I bring this up because it became part of his journey of becoming a published author. On the same day Leland underwent his bone marrow transplant, he received an email from a publisher that they would like to publish his novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong. And then two years later, on the same day, another publisher asked to publish his short story collection, Letters from Dinosaurs. I love Leland’s work and how utterly surprising and fresh it is. And I’ve always enjoyed his life stories too, told with dry humor and a good natured astuteness. So no surprise, I really enjoyed this recent author interview we had and hope you enjoy reading it too.
RSG: I started The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (TMOSP) before our election and after the results came in, I had to put it down for a week or so. The campaigning and election between father and son Pong was too disturbing and prescient, in light of the Presidential election unfolding here in America. What was your model for that campaign and those characters being in politics when you first conceived of and wrote TMOSP?”
Read the rest of the interview here.
In video games, the fear of the sudden propels you forward. Not so in life.
“Funeral by the Arcade”
by Leland Cheuk
“Eddie Wu and I weren’t close. I was just his English tutor. When his granddaughter informed me he’d been killed by a hit-and-run driver, I was sad and shocked, of course, but in an unsettled and detached manner—like one might react to news of the passing of a distant friend on Facebook. To my surprise, I was invited to the funeral in Monterey Park, where Eddie lived, my hometown.
On the morning of, I froze at the sight of my black suit hanging from a towel rod like a headless torso. My air passages narrowed.
I didn’t want to go.”
Read “Funeral by the Arcade” over at The Margins