Publications

    The Other Americans
    Lalami, Laila. The Other Americans. New York: Pantheon Books, 2019. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, author of The Moor's Account–a timely and powerful new novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant that is at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, all of it informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture. Nora Guerraoui, a jazz composer, returns home to a small town in the Mojave after hearing that her father, owner of a popular restaurant there, has been killed in a suspicious hit-and-run car accident. Told by multiple narrators–Nora herself, Jeremy (the Iraq war veteran with whom she develops an intimacy), widow Maryam, Efrain (an immigrant witness to the accident who refuses to get involved for fear of deportation), Coleman (the police investigator), and Driss (the dead man himself), The Other Americans deftly explores one family's secrets and hypocrisies even as it offers a portrait of Americans riven by race, class, and religion, living side by side, yet ignorant of the vicissitudes that each tribe, as it were, faces" – provided by publisher.
    The Topeka School
    Lerner, Ben. The Topeka School. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of '97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting 'lost boys' to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. When a group of seniors bring loner Darren Eberheart into the social scene, Adam is unaware that Darren is one of his father's patients. When a disastrous event occurs, Adam feels partly responsible."--Provided by publisher.
    Quarantine: Stories
    Mehta, Rahul. Quarantine: Stories. P.S. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine--openly gay Indian-American men--are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay men--social acceptance, the right to pursue happiness, and the heavy toll of listening to their hearts and bodies--they confront an elder generation's attachment to old-country ways. Estranged from their cultural in-group and still set apart from larger society, the young men in these lyrical, provocative, emotionally wrenching, yet frequently funny stories find themselves quarantined."
    Dogside Story
    Grace, Patricia. Dogside Story. Talanoa. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    There is conflict in the whanau. The young man, Te Rua, holds a 'secret for life, the one to die with'. But he realizes that if he is to acknowledge and claim his daughter the secret will have to be told. 'The Sisters' are threatening to drag the whanau through the courts. But why? What is really going on?
    Redeployment
    Klay, Phil. Redeployment. New York: The Penguin Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains-of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming. Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation"– Provided by publisher.

    Interpreter of Maladies: Stories
    Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies: Stories. Second Mariner Books edition. Boston: Mariner Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

    View eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required] - 1999 edition

    "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this stunning debut collection unerring charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner."–Provided by publisher.

    The Paternity Test
    Lowenthal, MIchael. The Paternity Test. Madison, WI: Terrace Books, 2012. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Having a baby to save a marriage--it's the oldest of cliches. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one, and having a baby involves a surrogate mother? Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he's losing Stu to other men--and losing himself in their "no rules" arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers. As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant married to Danny, an American home rebuilder. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties--to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires--and wonders: is he fit to be a father? In one of the first novels to explore the experience of gay men seeking a child through surrogacy, Michael Lowenthal writes passionately about marriages and mistakes, loyalty and betrayal, and about how our drive to create families can complicate the ones we already have. The Paternity Test is a provocative look at the new "family values."" - publisher description.

    The Bluest Eye
    Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1994. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, the tragic heroine of Toni Morrison's haunting first novel, grew out of her memory of a girlhood friend who wanted blue eyes. Shunned by the town's prosperous black families, as well as its white families, Pecola lives with her alcoholic father and embittered, overworked mother in a shabby two-room storefront that reeks of the hopeless destitution that overwhelms their lives. In awe of her clean well-groomed schoolmates, and certain of her own intense ugliness, Pecola tries to make herself disappear as she wishes fervently, desperately for the blue eyes of a white girl. In her afterward to this novel, Morrison writes of the little girl she once knew: "Beauty was not simply something to behold, it was something one could do. The Bluest Eye was my effort to say something about that; to say something about why she had not, or possibly never would have, the experience of what she possessed and also why she prayed for so radical an alteration. Implicit in her desire was racial self-loathing. And twenty-years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak that what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale? The novel pecks away at the gaze that condemned her."

    Convenience Store Woman
    Murata, Sayaka, and Ginny Tapley Takemori. Convenience Store Woman. First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. New York: Grove Press, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers' style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko's contented stasis--but will it be for the better? Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko's thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie ." -- (Source of summary not specified).

    Fires on the Plain
    Ooka, Shōhei. Fires on the Plain. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2001. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    Review: "This haunting novel explores the complete degradation and isolation of a man by war. The book is set on the island of Leyte in the Philippines during World War II, where the Japanese army is disintegrating under the hammer blows of the American landings. Within this larger disintegration is another, that of a single human being, Private Tamura. The war destroys each of his ties to society, one by one, until Tamura, a sensitive and intelligent man, becomes an outcast... Nearly losing the will to survive, he hears of a port still in Japanese hands, and struggles to walk through the American lines. Unfazed by danger, he welcomes the prospect of dying, but first he loses his hope, and then his sanity. Lost among his hallucinations, Tamura comes to fancy himself an angel enjoined by God to eat no living thing - but even angels fall."-- Adapted from jacket.
    There There
    Orange, Tommy. There There. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    The book opens with an essay by Orange as a prologue, and then proceeds to follow a large cast of Native Americans living in the area of Oakland, CA, as they struggle with a wide array of challenges ranging from depression, alchoholism, unemployment, and the challenges of living with an ethnic identity of being ambiguously nonwhite. All coalesce at a community pow wow in Oakland.

    Ground Zero, Nagasaki: Stories
    Seirai, Yūichi. Ground Zero, Nagasaki: Stories. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Set in contemporary Nagasaki, the six short stories in this collection draw a chilling portrait of the ongoing trauma of the detonation of the atomic bomb. Whether they experienced the destruction of the city directly or heard about it from survivors, the characters in these tales filter their pain and alienation through their Catholic faith, illuminating a side of Japanese culture little known in the West. Many of them are descended from the "hidden Christians" who continued to practice their religion in secret during the centuries when it was outlawed in Japan. Urakami Cathedral, the center of Japanese Christian life, stood at ground zero when the bomb fell.

    In "Birds," a man in his sixties reflects on his life as a husband and father. Just a baby when he was found crying in the rubble near ground zero, he does not know who his parents were. His birthday is set as the day the bomb was dropped. In other stories, a woman is haunted by her brief affair with a married man, and the parents of a schizophrenic man struggle to come to terms with the murder their son committed. These characters battle with guilt, shame, loss, love, and the limits of human understanding. Ground Zero, Nagasaki vividly depicts a city and people still scarred by the memory of August 9, 1945." --Publisher description.

    The God of Small Things
    Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. Random House reader's circle. Random House Trade paperbacks edition. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2008. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    In 1969 in Kerala, India, Rahel and her twin brother, Estha, struggle to forge a childhood for themselves amid the destruction of their family life, as they discover that the entire world can be transformed in a single moment
    Season of Migration to the North
    Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. New York Review Books classics. New York: New York Review of Books, 2009. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    After years of study in Europe, the young narrator returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood--the enigmatic Mustafa Sa'eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.

    Memorial
    Washington, Bryan. Memorial. New York: Riverhead Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant. Benson is a Black day care teacher. They've been together for a few years, but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other. When Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Houston for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he discovers the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together, but their time together ends up meaning more than they ever could have predicted. As both men change, will it make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known? -- adapted from jacket

    How Much of These Hills Is Gold
    Zhang, C. Pam. How Much of These Hills Is Gold. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape-trying not just to survive but to find a home. Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future. Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it's about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home."

    The Runaways
    Bhutto, Fatima. The Runaways. London, New York: Verso, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Anita lives in Karachi's biggest slum. Her mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita's life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour, a man whose shelves of books promise an escape to a different world. On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city and expects great things of him. But when a beautiful and rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction. Sunny's father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn't fit in anywhere. It's only when his charismatic cousin comes back into his life that he realises his life could hold more possibilities than he ever imagined. These three lives will cross in the desert, a place where life and death walk hand in hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice" -- Publisher description.

    Lilith's Brood
    Butler, Octavia E. Lilith's Brood. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2000. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Lilith Lyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected, by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: Their own children. This is their story."

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