Ken Liu Evokes a Powerful Spirit in New Short Story Collection

I remember reading Ken Liu’s short story, “The Paper Menagerie,” a few years ago online. It is currently the only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. I remember being moved by the sadness in the narrative, touched by the love, and entertained by its magical realism. It was a delightfully beautiful story by Liu, but my journey of reading his works never went beyond that. That is not until recently when I read his short story collection, “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.” Continue reading

Young Love and Scars from the Past are Revealed in Ford’s Debut Novel

Seattle’s Panama Hotel is in the midst of being restored when its new owner discovers a basement filled with belongings of Japanese American families who were incarcerated during World War II. When the discovery is announced before a crowd outside the hotel, it stirs the memories of Henry Lee of his boyhood; when Japantown was a few blocks away from home and he had a deep love for a Japanese American classmate, despite the barbed wire that would later stand in their way. Together with the help of his son and future daughter-in-law, Henry goes forward with uncovering the past, with hopes of mending ties and figuring out the lack of bridges between generations. Continue reading

An Ongoing Tragic Tale Unfolds in “Songs of Willow Frost”

It’s been five years since William Eng was taken to the Sacred Heart Orphanage, believing that his mother has passed and his father a mystery that is forever unsolved. But while on an outing to the local movie theater, it took one glance at movie star Willow Frost for William to realize that his mother is alive and well and, for the time being, in the Seattle area. Together with his friend Charlotte, they escape the orphanage and track down the mysterious Willow, only to learn that despite what her public image may assure otherwise, there’s a backstory that’s not for the faint of heart. Continue reading

Lang Lang’s Autobiography Explores His Journey as a Pianist

I have seen Chinese pianist Lang Lang perform a few times prior to coming to terms with who he is as of this year. I remember him performing at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2008, accompanied by a young girl, as they were surrounded by a sea of people dressed in lit up green suits. Perhaps people may better remember him in recent time for performing in Pharrell William’s haunting rendition of his hit song, “Happy,” at last year’s Grammy Awards.

But it wasn’t until earlier this year, when I saw him name listed a few times for some of songs on the score for the film “Kung Fu Panda 3” did I finally develop curiosity for who this man is. There’s a video of him on YouTube recording his piano playing for the score, before an audience made up of composer Hans Zimmer, co-director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and other members of the crew. He played thoughtfully and delicately when the songs called for it, and then enthusiastically when it was appropriate. My curiosity deepened and so I proceeded to learn more about him online, and when I learned that he had published an autobiography in 2008, I decided to get my hands on it. Continue reading

Durrow’s Debut Novel Brings a Powerful yet Unsteady Story

The name Heidi Durrow first popped onto my radar when I first came across the festival she founded, Mixed Remixed; an annual festival to celebrate and discuss mixed race people and experiences. Already, I was intrigued by the festival’s mission, and while learning more about it, I quickly learned of how in 2010, Durrow released her debut novel, “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.” Saddened yet intrigued by the synopsis, and also knowing that I hadn’t read a book yet that dealt with beingĀ  of white and black ancestry, I decided to read it. Continue reading

“Whasian” Digs Deep on the Power of Identity

Throughout the past year, there are two things that I’ve truly valued from a few of the books that I’ve wound up reading: 1. I’ve found out about these books from a wide array of sources and 2. a number of these books have incorporated a lot more well-rounded, diverse characters than I’ve ever read before. I first found out about Joy Huang Stoffers’s debut novel, “Whasian,” via an interview she did for the Multiracial Family Man podcast. Host Alex Barnett had been tweeting out about the interview with her, and so when it eventually reached my network, I decided to investigate. Continue reading