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Recommended Fiction Titles
A Tale for the Time Being
A brilliant, unforgettable novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki—shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award
“A?time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.
If I Had Your Face
A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania
"Powerful and provocative . . . a novel about female strength, spirit, resilience--and the solace that friendship can sometimes provide."--The Washington Post
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time - NPR - Esquire - Bustle - BBC - New York Post - InStyle
Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul "room salon," an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood.
Kyuri's roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the heir to one of the country's biggest conglomerates.
Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life.
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea's brutal economy.
Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.
The acclaimed author of the celebrated literary horror novels The Hunger and The Deep turns her psychological and supernatural eye on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.
1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko's husband's enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.
Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.
Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it's too late. A sharp account of too-recent history, it's a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most.
Where Reasons End
A fearless writer confronts grief and transforms it into art, in a book of surprising beauty and love, "a masterpiece by a master” (Elizabeth McCracken, Vanity Fair).
"Li has converted the messy and devastating stuff of life into a remarkable work of art.”—The Wall Street Journal
WINNER OF THE PEN/JEAN STEIN AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TIME AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Parul Seghal, The New York Times • NPR • The Guardian • The Paris Review
The narrator of Where Reasons End writes, “I had but one delusion, which I held on to with all my willpower: We once gave Nikolai a life of flesh and blood; and I’m doing it over again, this time by words.”
Yiyun Li meets life’s deepest sorrows as she imagines a conversation between a mother and child in a timeless world. Composed in the months after she lost a child to suicide, Where Reasons End trespasses into the space between life and death as mother and child talk, free from old images and narratives. Deeply moving, these conversations portray the love and complexity of a relationship.
Written with originality, precision, and poise, Where Reasons End is suffused with intimacy, inescapable pain, and fierce love.
One of The Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2021 * One of NPR's Best Books of 2021 * New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice * Long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
“Dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise.” —Celeste Ng, #1 bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
“Sanjena Sathian’s Gold Diggers is a work of 24-karat genius.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
How far would you go for a piece of the American dream?
A magical realist coming-of-age story, Gold Diggers skewers the model minority myth to tell a hilarious and moving story about immigrant identity, community, and the underside of ambition.
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is funny and smart but struggles to bear the weight of expectations of his family and their Asian American enclave. He tries to want their version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal.
When he discovers that Anita is the beneficiary of an ancient, alchemical potion made from stolen gold—a “lemonade” that harnesses the ambition of the gold’s original owner—Neil sees his chance to get ahead. But events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart. Years later in the Bay Area, Neil still bristles against his community's expectations—and finds he might need one more hit of that lemonade, no matter the cost.
Sanjena Sathian’s astonishing debut offers a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation into what's required to make it in America.
Soon to be a series produced by Mindy Kaling!
From the best-selling, award-winning author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine comes a novel about what happens to a group of obsessed recreational swimmers when a crack appears at the bottom of their local pool--a tour de force of economy, precision, and emotional power.
The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines (slow lane, medium lane, fast lane) and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief.
One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. Alice's estranged daughter, reentering her mother's life too late, witnesses her stark and devastating decline. Written in spellbinding, incantatory prose, The Swimmers is a searing, intimate story of mothers and daughters, and the sorrows of implacable loss: the most commanding and unforgettable work yet from a modern master.
Things We Lost to the Water
A captivating novel about an immigrant Vietnamese family who settles in New Orleans and struggles to remain connected to one another as their lives are inextricably reshaped. This stunning debut is "vast in scale and ambition, while luscious and inviting ... in its intimacy" (The New York Times Book Review).
When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle in to life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.
But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she attempts to come to terms with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memories and imaginations. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong gets involved with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his adopted homeland and his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity--as individuals and as a family--threatens to tear them apart, until disaster strikes the city they now call home and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them.
When I'm Gone, Look for Me in the East
From the acclaimed author of We Ride Upon Sticks comes a luminous novel that moves across a windswept Mongolia, as estranged twin brothers make a journey of duty, conflict, and renewed understanding.
Tasked with finding the reincarnation of a great lama--a spiritual teacher who may have been born anywhere in the vast Mongolian landscape--the young monk Chuluun sets out with his identical twin, Mun, who has rejected the monastic life they once shared. Their relationship will be tested on this journey through their homeland as each possesses the ability to hear the other's thoughts.
Proving once again that she is a writer of immense range and imagination, Quan Barry carries us across a terrain as unforgiving as it is beautiful and culturally varied, from the western Altai mountains to the eerie starkness of the Gobi Desert to the ancient capital of Chinggis Khaan. As their country stretches before them, questions of faith--along with more earthly matters of love and brotherhood--haunt the twins.
Are our lives our own, or do we belong to something larger? When I'm Gone, Look for Me in the East is a stunningly far-flung examination of our individual struggle to retain our convictions and discover meaning in a fast-changing world, as well as a meditation on accepting what simply is.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER * A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies--her first in nearly a decade--about a woman questioning her place in the world, wavering between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties.
Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. In the arc of one year, an unnamed narrator in an unnamed city, in the middle of her life's journey, realizes that she's lost her way. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.
We follow her to the pool she frequents, and to the train station that leads to her mother, who is mired in her own solitude after her husband's untimely death. Among those who appear on this woman's path are colleagues with whom she feels ill at ease, casual acquaintances, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. Until one day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will abruptly change.
This is the first novel Lahiri has written in Italian and translated into English. The reader will find the qualities that make Lahiri's work so beloved: deep intelligence and feeling, richly textured physical and emotional landscapes, and a poetics of dislocation. But Whereabouts, brimming with the impulse to cross barriers, also signals a bold shift of style and sensibility. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER - From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.
One of the funniest books of the year.... A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire. --The Washington Post
Willis Wu doesn't perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he's merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He's a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy--the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?
After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he's ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration--Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu's most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.
Recommended Nonfiction Titles
Mooncakes and Milk Bread
"Cho's book is so smart and thorough, I'm not sure we'll need another book on the topic anytime soon." - The New York Times
In Mooncakes & Milk Bread, food blogger Kristina Cho (eatchofood.com) introduces readers to Chinese bakery cooking with fresh, uncomplicated interpretations of classic recipes for the modern baker.
Inside, you'll find sweet and savory baked buns, steamed buns, Chinese breads, unique cookies, whimsical cakes, juicy dumplings, Chinese breakfast dishes, and drinks. Recipes for steamed BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns with a thick slice of butter, silky smooth milk tea, and chocolate Swiss rolls all make an appearance--because a book about Chinese bakeries wouldn't be complete without them!
Kristina teaches you to whip up these delicacies like a pro, including how to:
- Knead dough without a stand mixer
- Avoid collapsed steamed buns
- Infuse creams and custards with aromatic tea flavors
- Mix the most workable dumpling dough
- Pleat dumplings like an Asian grandma
This is the first book to exclusively focus on Chinese bakeries and cafés, but it isn't just for those nostalgic for Chinese bakeshop foods--it's for all home bakers who want exciting new recipes to add to their repertoires.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey and the sun and her flowers comes her greatly anticipated third collection of poetry.
rupi kaur constantly embraces growth, and in home body, she walks readers through a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of the self. home body is a collection of raw, honest conversations with oneself - reminding readers to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family, and embrace change. illustrated by the author, themes of nature and nurture, light and dark, rest here.
i dive into the well of my body
and end up in another world
everything i need
already exists in me
there's no need
to look anywhere else
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • ONE OF TIME’S 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE • A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness
“Brilliant . . . To read this book is to become more human.”—Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
In development as a television series starring and adapted by Greta Lee • One of Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, New Statesman, BuzzFeed, Esquire, The New York Public Library, and Book Riot
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.
With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.
Praise for Minor Feelings
“Hong begins her new book of essays with a bang. . . .The essays wander a variegated terrain of memoir, criticism and polemic, oscillating between smooth proclamations of certainty and twitches of self-doubt. . . . Minor Feelings is studded with moments [of] candor and dark humor shot through with glittering self-awareness.”—The New York Times
“Hong uses her own experiences as a jumping off point to examine race and emotion in the United States.”—Newsweek
“Powerful . . . [Hong] brings together memoiristic personal essay and reflection, historical accounts and modern reporting, and other works of art and writing, in order to amplify a multitude of voices and capture Asian America as a collection of contradictions. She does so with sharp wit and radical transparency.”—Salon
A "vibrant, inventive, and vulnerable" (Bustle) graphic memoir about American identity, interracial families, and our most difficult conversations, from the acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing.
"By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it's exactly the book America needs at this moment."--Celeste Ng
"How brown is too brown?"
"Can Indians be racist?"
"What does real love between really different people look like?"
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob's half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she's gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.
Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation--and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
Praise for Good Talk
"Emphasizes the complexities of being part of an interracial family and the struggles of parenting in the present moment."--Time
"Good Talk uses a masterful mix of pictures and words to speak on life's most uncomfortable conversations."--io9
"Mira Jacob just made me toss everything I thought was possible in a book-as-art-object into the garbage. Her new book changes everything."--Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy
A "hauntingly beautiful memoir about family and identity" (NPR) and a young woman's journey to understanding her complicated parents--her mother an Okinawan war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran--and her own, fraught cultural heritage.
Elizabeth's mother was working as a nightclub hostess on U.S.-occupied Okinawa when she met the American soldier who would become her husband. The language barrier and power imbalance that defined their early relationship followed them to the predominantly white, upstate New York suburb where they moved to raise their only daughter. There, Elizabeth grew up with the trappings of a typical American childhood and adolescence. Yet even though she felt almost no connection to her mother's distant home, she also felt out of place among her peers.
Decades later, Elizabeth comes to recognize the shame and self-loathing that haunt both her and her mother, and attempts a form of reconciliation, not only to come to terms with the embattled dynamics of her family but also to reckon with the injustices that reverberate throughout the history of Okinawa and its people. Clear-eyed and profoundly humane, Speak, Okinawa is a startling accomplishment--a heartfelt exploration of identity, inheritance, forgiveness, and what it means to be an American.
Know My Name
Universally acclaimed, rapturously reviewed, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and an instant New York Times bestseller, Chanel Miller's breathtaking memoir "gives readers the privilege of knowing her not just as Emily Doe, but as Chanel Miller the writer, the artist, the survivor, the fighter." (The Wrap).
"I opened Know My Name with the intention to bear witness to the story of a survivor. Instead, I found myself falling into the hands of one of the great writers and thinkers of our time. Chanel Miller is a philosopher, a cultural critic, a deep observer, a writer's writer, a true artist. I could not put this phenomenal book down." --Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior and Untamed
"Know My Name is a gut-punch, and in the end, somehow, also blessedly hopeful." --Washington Post
She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.
Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.
Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF 2019 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, TIME, Elle, Glamour, Parade, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, BookRiot
“The funniest, most poignant novel of the year.” —Vogue
“Disorientation does what great comedies and satires are supposed to do: make you laugh while forcing you to ponder the uncomfortable implications of every punchline.” —The Washington Post
A Taiwanese American woman’s coming-of-consciousness ignites eye-opening revelations and chaos on a college campus in this outrageously hilarious and startlingly tender debut novel.
Twenty-nine-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperate to finish her dissertation on the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about “Chinese-y” things again. But after years of grueling research, all she has to show for her efforts are junk food addiction and stomach pain. When she accidentally stumbles upon a curious note in the Chou archives one afternoon, she convinces herself it’s her ticket out of academic hell.
But Ingrid’s in much deeper than she thinks. Her clumsy exploits to unravel the note’s message lead to an explosive discovery, upending not only her sheltered life within academia but her entire world beyond it. With her trusty friend Eunice Kim by her side and her rival Vivian Vo hot on her tail, together they set off a roller coaster of mishaps and misadventures, from book burnings and OTC drug hallucinations, to hot-button protests and Yellow Peril 2.0 propaganda.
In the aftermath, nothing looks the same to Ingrid—including her gentle and doting fiancé, Stephen Greene. When he embarks on a book tour with the super kawaii Japanese author he’s translated, doubts and insecurities creep in for the first time… As the events Ingrid instigated keep spiraling, she’ll have to confront her sticky relationship to white men and white institutions—and, most of all, herself.
For readers of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown, this uproarious and bighearted satire is a blistering send-up of privilege and power in America, and a profound reckoning of individual complicity and unspoken rage. In this electrifying debut novel from a provocative new voice, Elaine Hsieh Chou asks who gets to tell our stories—and how the story changes when we finally tell it ourselves.
"Talusan sails past the conventions of trans and immigrant memoirs." --The New York Times Book Review
"A ball of light hurled into the dark undertow of migration and survival." --Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
A singular, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism whose story travels from an immigrant childhood to Harvard to a gender transition and illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender
Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a "sun child" from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni's Room. Her evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.
Sisters of Mokama
"Sisters of Mokama is proof that faith and courage does move mountains." -- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
The never-before-told story of six intrepid Kentucky nuns, their journey to build a hospital in the poorest state in India, and the Indian nurses whose lives would never be the same
New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam’s mother was part of an extraordinary group of Indian women. Born in 1946, a time when few women dared to leave their house without the protection of a man, she left home by herself at just fifteen years old and traveled to Bihar—an impoverished and isolated state in northern India that had been one of the bloodiest regions of Partition—in order to train to be a nurse under the tutelage of the determined and resourceful Appalachian nuns who ran Nazareth Hospital. Like Thottam’s mother’s journey, the hospital was a radical undertaking: it was run almost entirely by women, who insisted on giving the highest possible standard of care to everyone who walked through its doors, regardless of caste or religion.
Fascinated by her mother’s story, Thottam set out to discover the full story of Nazareth Hospital, which had been established in 1947 by six nuns from Kentucky. With no knowledge of Hindi, and the awareness that they would likely never see their families again, the sisters had traveled to the small town of Mokama determined to live up to the pioneer spirit of their order, founded in the rough hills of the Kentucky frontier. A year later, they opened the doors of the hospital; soon they began taking in young Indian women as nursing students, offering them an opportunity that would change their lives. One of those women, of course, was Thottam’s mother.
In Sisters of Mokama, Thottam draws upon twenty years’ worth of research to tell this inspiring story for the first time. She brings to life the hopes, struggles, and accomplishments of these ordinary women—both American and Indian—who succeeded against the odds during the tumult and trauma of the years after World War II and Partition. Pain and loss were everywhere for the women of that time, but the collapse of the old orders provided the women of Nazareth Hospital with an opening—a chance to create for themselves lives that would never have been possible otherwise.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK - A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER - The moving story of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world--an incandescent debut from an astonishing new talent - A TODAY SHOW #READWITHJENNA PICK
In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to "beautiful country." Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian's parents were professors; in America, her family is "illegal" and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.
In Chinatown, Qian's parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly "shopping days," when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn's streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center--confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.
But then Qian's headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor's visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you've always lived here.
Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.