The second half of 2022 was active on the writing front. I was a special guest on the faculty of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and attended the Monson Arts Residency in Maine to work on my next books.
On the book coverage front, my work made three appearances in the San Francisco Chronicle. I interviewed Catherine Ceniza Choy about her book about Asian American histories. Then I reviewed Ryan Lee Wong’s debut novel, two books about North Korea, and selected my best book of 2022.
For NPR, I reviewed two novels I loved at the midyear mark, Paradais, by Fernanda Melchor, and The Stars Are Not Yet Bells, by Hannah Lilith Assadi. I also reviewed Ghost Town, a novel by Kevin Chen, published by one of my favorite indies Europa Editions.
For my friends at Heavy Feather Review, I rounded up my top five reads of 2022 with an emphasis on small and independent presses.
Happy new year to all!
Studies have shown that reading literary fiction increases a reader’s ability to empathize. In her first books to be published in the U.S., Giller Prize-nominated British author Kathy Page puts that theory to a rigorous test. Would you like to spend 300 pages in the mind of a murderer? How about fourteen stories replete with the vengeful whispers from those vanquished by the injustices of globalization? In both the novel Alphabet and the story collection Paradise and Elsewhere, Page demonstrates that she is a master provocateur, unafraid to ask unpleasant questions about contemporary society, even if she risks being didactic.
Read the rest of the review here.
I’ll be straight up. Ben is a friend of mine and he’s a true homeboy (if a non-homeboy can say as much). I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that BARRIO BUSHIDO is the story of his life. A coming-of-age, darkly comic piece of novelistic street poetry, the novel is the story of three neighborhood friends, Lobo, Toro and Santo (the Wolf, the Bull, and the Saint) who follow their homeboy code of loyalty, violence and machismo into what amounts to a kamikaze mission. You’ll laugh, you’ll be moved, and you’ll realize that some Americans don’t dream at all.