By Shaniah Shields, Leanne Francis and Jia Wen Ho
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and is dedicated to celebrating the culture, history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic new releases from AAPI and Asian writers around the world and across different genres.
Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri
Publication Date: 10 October 2023
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri shares with us a series of short stories in forthcoming collection, Roman Stories. Translated from Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri and Todd Portnowitz, Roman Stories centres the eternal city in every story, illuminating the “frailties of the human condition and dissecting lives lived on the margins.”
Lahiri masterfully examines humanity from multiple perspectives, exploring themes of love, loss, family and duty as it pertains to each character in the metropolis. Roman Stories encapsulates the feeling of 'sonder' within each carefully crafted short story, serving as a powerful reminder to be present and to observe the world around us.
Tomb Sweeping by Alexandra Chang
Publication Date: 8 August 2023
A thoughtful and compelling collection of short stories that explores what it means to be truely alive. The stories immerse the readers into the lives of different women from America to China – some in immigrant families, others in universities and grocery stores.
There is a bored housewife who finds an outlet for her ambitions in an underground gambling den. Or a woman known as the “the Asian recycling lady” roaming and collecting bottles on the streets she calls home. There is also a wife who holds a living funeral for her husband so that respects can be offered to him while he is alive. The stories brim with themes of family, death, searching for meaning and human connection.
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
Publication Date: 18 May 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction
In this ‘kaleidoscopic literary epic’ by Abraham Verghese, we follow three generations of a family that suffer a peculiar affliction. In every generation, at least one person dies by drowning. In Kerala, South India, water is everywhere.
Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is a story of family, faith and medicine. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl is sent by boat to her wedding, where she meets her forty-year-old husband for the first time. The young girl eventually becomes the matriarch and bears witness to unthinkable changes over the span of her remarkable life in this deeply moving and humbling testament to human life.
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang
Publication Date: 4 April 2023
In this blend of horror and surrealist fiction, we follow a young musician’s descent into an elite and beauty-obsessed world in this darkly funny debut. The unnamed narrator is a skilled pianist but abandons her dreams for a job at a high-end beauty store where something sinister lies beneath the glossy exterior.
A meditation on vanity and the commodification of perfection, Huang portrays a messy and unsettling portrait of the pursuit of physical beauty. This razor-sharp story features LGBTQIA+ representation and is a shocking page-turner that explores questions of consumerism, self-worth and identity. The TV adaption is expected to hit screens soon.
The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi
Publication Date: 14 February 2023
Genre: Gothic Fiction
It starts with a fairytale-like marriage, a scholar of myths marrying the woman he dearly loves, Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada, a rich heiress. The loving marriage was based on one bizarre condition – the groom must never pry into her past.
When Indigo finds out that her estranged aunt is dying, the couple returns to Indigo's childhood home, the House of Dreams. The place that holds Indigo's secrets begins to beckon the scholar to break his promise. One secret which is revealed is that there used to be another girl in the house, Azure, Indigo's childhood friend. Spinning an enchanting gothic tale, the secrets will force the scholar to choose between reality and fantasy. Threatening the destruction of their marriage and lives.
Lei and the Fire Goddess by Malia Maunakea
Publication date: 6 June 2023
Genre: Midde-grade fiction
Weaving Hawaiian culture, legends and traditions, this novel follows Lei, a 12-year-old Hawaiian girl that lives in Colorado. Every summer, she is forced to stay in Hawaii with her grandma, who wants Lei to know about her family's mo'olelo – folktales about sacred flowers and family guardians. The thing is, Lei doesn’t believe it and neither will the kids from home believe or care about these legends.
The folktales turn out to be real when Lei accidentally angers the Fire goddess, Pele, causing a curse to be placed on her family. Lei embarks on a thrilling adventure to undo the curse that only she can remove.