The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat (Half Review)

Today I finished the book The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore. It was really good. It’s about three older African American women in Indiana who are known in town as the Supremes (because they remind people of Diana Ross and her group). The book delves into their lives, their loves, their children, and their missed ambitions. The lives of all the characters revolve around Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, a local restaurant where all the interesting characters in town hang out. I loved the small town feel of the story and how the characters were far removed from the politics of their time. Edward Kelsey Moore presents a cast of very interesting personalities, including people who see ghosts, cheating husbands, arrogant rich people, and slimy fortune tellers. Each character brings flavor to the story as they learn to coexist in their own small town.

The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee (Review)

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The Conjoined is the third adult novel of Canadian American author Jen Sookfong Lee. I reviewed her first novel The End of East years ago, and I am happy to see that she’s still writing. Too often Asian American writers write one novel before disappearing forever. I’m happy that Jen Sookfong Lee is still in the game and growing stronger as a writer. And growing she is. I couldn’t put this novel down. She has grown not only as a writer, but also as an observer and a student of life (which she describes in detail on her website). She was always a good writer, but in her new novel, she demonstrates her cultural bilingualism and keen understanding of humankind. It was truly delightful.

Interview with Ben Efsaneyim, Author of “The Legend of Fu”

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1. Ben, congratulations on your new book. Finishing a book is a major accomplishment, and I think the entire Asian American blogosphere is happy for you. Can you tell us a little about your book? What is it about?

Thank you, Byron, and thank you for your interest in my book.

The Legend of Fu is a historical thriller set in the late 19th Century. The main narrative happens in the San Francisco Chinatown, but the early part of the book takes place in Mexico. The story follows the protagonist, Fu, as he survives brutal treatment aboard a coolie ship and a brief sojourn in Mexico, and finally presents the main events that take place in San Francisco.

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas (Review)

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I was really happy to receive a copy of Peter Tieryas’s new book United States of Japan. I’ve reviewed Peter’s books before, and I respect him as one of the most creative contemporary thinkers in Asian American fiction today. I respect his unique ideas and his embrace of thinking that goes far beyond the typical issues that many Asian American writers try to address. With USJ, he once again pushes the boundaries of imagination and inquiry. Peter also bravely enters the political arena of history and intra-Asian debates. It’s by far Peter’s most ambitious novel to date. This has also been the most thought-provoking book I’ve read all year.  I loved it, and I hope you do too!

NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman (Review)

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NurtureShock is a book about child-rearing that combines the latest studies with the authors’ own personal experience. Bronson’s and Merryman’s idea is that lots of the common wisdom that Americans have about parenting is wrong.

It’s an interesting book, particularly interesting because the advice in the book is in line with the way I parent. 🙂  There are explanations and ideas about all kinds of issues–why siblings fight, why language DVDs don’t work (and what actually does), when to praise kids (and when not to), why parents should not avoid talking about race, and how to best teach self-control.

The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World by Tracy Slater (Review)

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The Good Shufu is a non-fiction memoir written by a Jewish American woman who falls in love with a Japanese man while teaching in Japan. Tracy Slater is humanities PhD who accepts a position in Japan as an English conversation teacher for Japanese businessmen. She is a liberal feminist East Coaster (Boston) who mostly hung out with other liberal white people, and she had never given much thought to other cultures (which is actually quite common among East Coast liberals–not just the white ones either). She falls in love with one of her students, a young salaryman named Toru, and the book is about their love and and cross-cultural marriage. Along the way Slater also writes about caring for her new father-in-law and her attempts to have a child via IVF.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Review)

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I just finished reading Hanya Yanagihara’s 720-page novel A Little Life. It’s the story of four college friends who live in New York City: an architect, an artist, an actor, and a corporate lawyer. As the novel moves on, the focus turns to the lawyer, a man named Jude, and the story becomes about how he deals with the pain caused by a childhood of sexual abuse. Yanagihara’s last novel dealt with similar themes of pedophilia. I’ve watched/read interviews with Yanagihara, and she said that she wrote the novel to explore many issues. One issue was that she wanted to explore lifestyles where there are no kids involved. She said in an interview that she and most of her friends don’t have kids, and she wanted to portray that life. Another issue was the idea that men often lack the vocabulary to talk about their emotions. She said she found it fascinating to write about men trying to find words to discuss what they feel.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (Review)

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I just finished The Ghost Bride by Yangze Choo. It’s a historical novel that becomes a supernatural mystery. The story takes place in late nineteenth century Malaysia, and it blends the history of colonial Malaysia (“Malaya”) with traditional Chinese ideas of the afterlife. The story is about a young woman whose father offers to marry her off as a “ghost bride.” In her arrangement, she would marry the deceased son of a rich family who died prematurely, and she and her family would become wealthy from the marriage. There are many unexpected turns in this novel.

The Son by Philipp Meyer (short review)

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Philipp Meyer’s The Son will be an interesting read for those interested in a guy’s novel. It’s a multigenerational novel about a young white boy who is kidnapped by Comanches and grows up to become a warrior and a cattleman in Texas during the 1880’s. It spans from the the boy’s young childhood to the childhoods of his great-great-grandchildren. This book was very ambitious, but Meyer succeeds.

Check it out.