On Saturday, I attended Boundless, a festival focused on Indigenous and culturally diverse Australian writers! The lineup of artists was incredible and it was really nice to see friends (including Annie, Glaiza and Wai) again ^_^ My eyes and fingers were slightly dying at the end of the day from live-tweeting for Pencilled In, but it was worth it!
Events I attended:
- Deadly and Hectic: a conversation between Indigenous Australian and migrant writers from Sweatshop, a Western Sydney literary movement. Some really thoughtful discussion regarding representation. Thread of live-tweets here.
- Shaping the Horizon: a discussion of diverse new voices and the future of the Australian literary landscape with Benjamin Law, Ellen van Neerven, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Julie Koh and Peter Polites (!!!). Really enjoyable discussion; I wish I’d caught more of their recommendations! Thread of live-tweets here.
- All in the Family: discussion of how to write family stories, seeking permission and how to represent them. Loved all of the panellists’ thoughts but as always, Benjamin Law was amazing. Thread of live-tweets here.
Overall, it was really refreshing to see so many diverse artists, with thoughtful discussions about representation which I learned a lot from. Definitely hoping that this is just the first of many festivals.
Lit CelebrAsian Launch
Everyone, I have something really exciting to share with you today! Remember in May when I was part of a group of book bloggers hosting #AsianLitChat and #AsianLitBingo? I’m now part of the group of co-hosts for Lit CelebrAsian, a permanent expansion of these two initiatives, along with a book club and many more things to come! Here’s a snippet from our introduction post – check out our website for more details.
Welcome to Lit CelebrAsian! We are a group of bookworms and diverse book bloggers aiming to uplift Asian voices in literature. Due to the support and appreciation that followed both #AsianLitChat and #AsianLitBingo, we wanted to create a space to share more books and discussion related to literature by Asian authors. And thus, Lit CelebrAsian was born!
We want to highlight Asian voices through features and annual events that are open to all readers. Beyond Asian representation, on social media, we aim to boost the many different marginalized voices, platforms and communities with similar goals towards equality in publishing.
It’s obviously also been…over two months since I last made a blog post here! I’m sorry for completely abandoning this blog and for half-disappearing from Twitter with no warning – the short answer is that life got in the way, and I’m still unable to get back into a regular blogging schedule at this stage, although I’d like to … eventually!
For now, I’m going to focus on assisting with the Lit CelebrAsian iniatives 🙂 You can find me co-running our Instagram account – we have quite a few things planned that I’m really excited for. Hope to see you there 🙂
Everyone, I’m back! 😀 The past month has just been study, study, study for me – it’s good to be free from it (for now). I’m still pretty tired and recovering, so will be getting back into things slowly, but here are my writing/reading plans for this month.
- The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – I started this in May for #AsianLitBingo and didn’t get through the whole thing, but I was really enjoying the writing and setting (historical Hawaii), so will aim to finish it in the next few days.
- Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield, Marsh and Me by Martine Murray, and God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen – all of these are review books that have been sitting around for way too long!
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – this is my friend’s favourite book, and after listening to a podcast of Yanagihara’s closing address from SWF 2016 (link), I’d really like to start on this!
Other books I’d like to get to
- Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor – ordered this book recently and it sounds incredible (Peter Pan-inspired, linked in with the Japanese-American internment during WW2).
- The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke – I’ve kept meaning to read this after borrowing it from Glaiza back in January.
- A few commissioned blog posts over the next week
- Continuing to work on a short story I got partway through earlier this year – historical fiction about the Immigration Restriction Act, family relationships, and identity. Lots of rethinking and reworking ahead, but I’m looking forward to finishing it 🙂
- Potentially starting another short story that’s surrealist/magical realism and draws on Chinese folklore about the moon
- Various editing work for uni/other publications
- This doesn’t come out where I am until the end of July, but I’m looking forward to finally seeing the film adaptation of A Monster Calls
- #YAFanFest on July 20th – looking forward to seeing friends and authors there!
Have you read any of the above books before? How was June for you? What are your plans for July?
In Canberra on 6th & 7th May. I hadn’t been to Canberra since my school excursion in Year 10 (aaaages ago) and it was so pretty to experience in autumn. Also, really nice to be able to catch up with friends there again ^_^ Highlights:
- Seeing Jenevieve Chang’s event, where she talked about her memoir The Good Girl of Chinatown. Her thoughts on the theme of running away throughout the book, the city of Shanghai and her grandmother’s stories were fascinating. Really looking forward to reading the book!
- Listening to the readings + music at the event Mixtape Memoirs. So hard to describe it, let alone in a way that does it justice, but I was captivated.
- Delivering a kids’ storytelling workshop – I think I handled it okay! It’s good to be able to have that as part of my experience now.
- The independent publishing fair – so many zines and other artistic stalls around, and my amazing friends Zhi and Shu-Ling sold REALLY well!
Sydney Writers’ Festival
I went to three events on the YA day on Saturday, as well as an event on Sunday, and I really loved listening to all the speakers. Sorry about the lack of the photos, I was so tired on both days I didn’t take any!
- Mariko Tamaki Talks the Talk: in conversation with Mariko Tamaki, not just about dialogue but other aspects of her creativity too. She was a really engaging speaker! See here for a thread of live-tweets by Emily (@UncoverAllure)
- Defying Expectations: on the stereotypes faced by women writers, and countering them. Absolutely incredible and really thoughtful comments from all the panellists. Thread of live-tweets here.
- Fresh Voices from Western Sydney – A Showcase of Real Talk: spoken word performances by high school students from Western Sydney. I seriously have no words to describe how incredible it was. As far as I can remember, every single one of the performers addressed something to do with identity and/or social issues (body image, consent, prejudice, class, etc.) – which was so inspiring to see.
- Borders of Our Writing: discussion of non-English traditions in the artists’ writing. Sad that Maxine Beneba Clarke couldn’t make it, but this definitely made me even more interested in reading Rajith Savanadasa’s Ruins. A few of the audience questions at the end were insensitive, and/or frustrating – but that’s for a longer conversation regarding writers’ festivals and access. Live-tweet thread here.
It was so good to be able to co-host this initiative to promote Asian books and authors during May! Highlights:
- Being part of an amazing group of passionate bloggers who pulled the initiative together so beautifully; especially the incredible work by Shenwei (@theshenners), the creator, and Aentee (@readatmidnight), who did the amazing graphics.
- Seeing so many people pick up books with Asian rep by Asian authors which I usually don’t see enough people talking about
- Interviewing my all-time favourite author, Stacey Lee, here, and encouraging more people to pick her books up
- #AsianLitChat with some amazing authors and readers and involving fantastic discussions! I was a bubble of happiness throughout and afterwards. The Storify recaps for the chats (put together by the incredible efforts of Glaiza) can be found here.
- Last but not least, reading incredible Asian books for the challenge! I only finished two books, unfortunately >.< (The Other Shore and The Emperor’s Riddle, both of which I loved) but it was a lot of fun putting together my TBR for it and being motivated to dive in!
Books read in May
- The Other Shore by Hoa Pham, a haunting story about a Vietnamese girl who gains psychic powers and the consequences of this. Filled with political and spiritual intrigue (for #AsianLitBingo – SE Asian MC)
- The Emperor’s Riddle by Kat Zhang, about a Chinese-American girl on a holiday in China, and uncovering the mystery of an emperor’s hidden treasure. This was a lot of fun and I loved the setting + characters! (for #AsianLitBingo – Free Space)
- Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King is the story of a teen artist, Sarah, going through what she calls an ‘existential crisis’ and uncovering painful family secrets. Powerful and heartbreaking.
- Read halfway through The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – a time-travelling ship goes back to Hawaii, where Nix Song was born, and her father (the captain) seeks to reunite with her mother through any means possible. I’m loving the writing and setting so far! Will finish it after exams.
Hiatus in June
This is to let everyone know that I’m going to have to put both my blog and Twitter on hiatus for the whole of June. I’ve got exams coming up (including one which is worth 80% of my final mark – so. much. fun.), some writing deadlines still to meet, and other life stuff going on.
I dislike having to put things completely on hold (usually I have a lot of posts scheduled and just spread them out slowly if I’m too busy), but I’ve got absolutely no choice this time… Use my contact form if you’d like to message me, otherwise I’ll see you in July!
(Beautiful banner by Aentee @ Read at Midnight)
This month, I’m really excited to be co-hosting an AMAZING reading challenge, created by Shenwei @ Reading (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA. The hosts are a group of Asian bloggers, and we’ve created an initiative to support Asian authors and their books in May.
One of the aspects of this initiative involves us sharing various Asian-themed blog posts, and I have a few coming up that I’m really excited to share – my recommended ownvoices historical fiction books, a Diversity Spotlight Thursday focusing on Asian authors, and hopefully an interview later in the month with an author I really admire.
Another part involves the reading challenge below:
Realistically, I know I’m unlikely to be able to complete a whole line during this hectic month, but I’ve still planned a TBR out, and would love to complete the whole board at some point in the year. For now, I’m aiming for the diagonal from SE Asian MC to Multiracial/Multi-ethnic Asian MC.
Are you participating in #AsianLitBingo? What’s on your TBR?
Books I read during April, blog wrap-up, and some updates on what I’ll be doing in May.
Books read during April:
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – incredible, and I especially loved the depiction of migrant experiences from multiple aspects! We so so need more books like these. Post will eventually be up with a review + reflection in relation to the diversity of migrant experiences.
- The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil – sadly I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped, the writing just didn’t work well in engaging me. But I still loved the premise of this book, the friendship aspect, the inclusion of POC and the anxiety rep, and if you’re more into contemporary YA romance then you should enjoy it more than I did. Highly recommend checking out Jananee’s review here for an ownvoices perspective on the diversity.
- Went through a LOT of chapters and volumes from the Blue Exorcist manga — the visuals have been a good break from normal reading because I’m so fatigued from university textbooks. I got into this through initially watching the anime and really loved the premise, the characters (Rin is an amazing hero and I also love Yukio and Izumo), and the fun action plots. Definitely recommend it for anime/manga fans.
- Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee – thank you to Emily Mead for lending me this! I’ve had SO many friends recommend it and had been desperate to read this for ages. Overall, it was a really fun read and reminded me a lot of the Big Hero 6 film.
- The Stone Heart (The Nameless City, #2) by Faith Erin Hicks. My feelings towards the worldbuilding (which I’ve seen concerns regarding it being appropriative) and plot (seems hindered by trying to address a very complex topic rather simplistically) are now a lot more mixed than when I initially read the first book in this graphic novel series. I do still love Faith Erin Hicks’ art and Jordie Bellaire’s gorgeous colours, though.
- Wing Jones by Katherine Webber – loved the writing, loved the characters, lots of feels. Josephine’s review here is a lovely ownvoices perspective on the biracial rep.
- I’ve given my Diversity page an update 🙂 It now has a slideshow of photos of + links to some of my favourite diverse books that I recommend.
- Review of The Pearl Thief (the upcoming prequel to Code Name Verity) by Elizabeth Wein, which was a fun dip into a historical mystery and back into Julie’s character.
- Made my first ever discussion post – On Languages, Storytelling and Translated Books. Thank you so much to everyone who shared and/or commented – I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and it was incredible hearing about your individual experiences! Will definitely be doing a discussion post again.
- Review of Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai – I reflected a bit on the visiting-your-homeland Asian diasporic experience in this moving, ownvoices middle grade book.
Thanks to Text Publishing for sending me these!
- Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King. I hadn’t heard of this before but the premise does sound really compelling – art and family issues. I like the clever title a lot, too.
- Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield. I read Friday Brown a long time ago by the same author and remember being intrigued by and liking it. The book’s premise sounds compelling!
May (Event) Updates:
- Noted Festival in Canberra is coming up, where I’m doing this storytelling workshop for primary school kids from multilingual/ESL backgrounds. Nervous but also excited, and I’m so keen to see the lovely Shu-Ling again (incredible writer, amazing friend) ❤ Check out the rest of the program and the artists, all of which are incredible.
- After a stressful few hours trying to get tickets through the website and on the phone, I’m really excited for Sydney Writers’ Festival.
- There’s one more announcement that’s coming tomorrow! It’s an initiative I’m co-hosting which I’m really excited to share, and hope you’ll all be able to take part in it too.