Reader’s Cafe

I don't typically read dystopian novels. Too dark for me. The very meaning of dystopia warns me away. It is an imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible (Oxford dictionary). In the dystopian fiction world, societies are generally characterized by class divides, environmental devastation, and loss of individuality. Set in a near future, they are allegories to generate a sense of urgency to change our ways. Today is my first foray into this world. I read two dystopian novels this week set in an imaginable future that described a degraded world for all of us, but Asian Americans in particular. As the Chinese New Year began, with its horrific violence, it seemed fitting to immerse myself in these worlds. We have a long history of Asian American discrimination in our country, now exacerbated by the pandemic. Both books have Asian American protagonists.

The Loved Ones: Healing an Inheritance of Grief

If you think about the families in this story, the plot and its twists, or even the unlikely title for this book, you might wonder how in the world it fits together. And yet it does. Remarkably well. It is a story of unlikely attractions, where they lead, their consequences and how they shape lives. … Continue reading The Loved Ones: Healing an Inheritance of Grief

HOW TO MAKE A LIFE

There have been many generational family sagas written lately about how choices and experience made in one generation impacts the next.  Most, however, are told in the same tired way. There are two storylines—one past, one current— and they alternate chapters with the endpoint moving toward an intersection of the two. Invariably, I savor the … Continue reading HOW TO MAKE A LIFE

A Tale of Family Trauma Elegantly Rendered

Lately, if I've read a book that has garnered a long list of prizes (2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, best book of year by NPR and Publisher's weekly and over the top reviews, I read it with great anticipation and am usually surprised by the acclaim, disappointed with the story or lack thereof, … Continue reading A Tale of Family Trauma Elegantly Rendered

My 2020 Good Reads List

One of the few upsides of quarantine living was the time for more reading. I’m sure many of you surpassed your reading goals quite by accident, others because as with everything else, reading has also become a competitive sport as has cooking, design, fashion, and other arts. I'm just hoping I never see a reality … Continue reading My 2020 Good Reads List

Would You Want to Know How Long You Have to Live?

THE IMMORTALISTS BY CHLOE BENJAMIN The central question of this ambitious novel is this: if you were told the exact day you were to die, how would that influence the way you lived? Intertwined in this, of course, is all the complicating subtext of what drives your life in all its facets—overarching to the mundane.  Would … Continue reading Would You Want to Know How Long You Have to Live?