13 Feb / Go Home! edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, foreword by Viet Thanh Nguyen [in Booklist]
The phrase, go home, encompasses polarizing intentions. It’s a reference to one’s safest place but can also be a hurled threat of exclusion. That polarity illuminates these 31 stories, essays, and poems by writers of diasporic Asian origin, compiled by self-described “Japanese-Chinese-Scottish-English-American” novelist Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Harmless Like You, 2017).
Ranging from contemporary to a quarter-century old, the pieces are introduced by MacArthur fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, who writes of how he “found a home in language and storytelling.” As with many collections, Home proves uneven, although numerous standouts demand attention, including Mohja Kahf’s humorously poignant, “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom of Sears”; Fariha Róisín’s vindicating, “Meet a Muslim”; Mia Alvar’s love-story-of-sorts, “Esmerelda”; Jason Koo’s father-son road trip, “Bon Chul Koo and the Hall of Fame”; Marilyn Chin’s rallying “For Mitsuye Yamada on Her 90th Birthday”; and Chang-rae Lee’s elegiac “The Faintest Echo of Our Language.”
For both writers and readers – regardless of background – Nguyen’s admission will especially resonate: “Through books and stories, the world became my home, a place from which I could never be dispossessed so long as I lived and my mind could roam.”
Review: modified from “Fiction,” Booklist, February 1, 2018