Bittersweet, empathic, and honest, Nicole Chung’s memoir, All You Can Ever Know (Catapult, $26), recounts her experiences as a Korean adoptee of white parents, follows her search for her birth parents, and charts her changing views of parenthood as she becomes a mother herself. Chung’s narrative unfolds her memories of facing racism growing up in a rural Oregon town, hushed attempts to excavate family secrets, and then the trials of new motherhood. She weaves in the perspective of her birth sister who grew up under vastly different circumstances, a narrative that ends in a complicated but heartfelt reunion between the two women. Chung’s lived experiences and poignant observations paint an intricate portrait of both Asian-American and transracial adoptee identity that challenges the prepackaged myths and assumptions held by society about both groups. All You Can Ever Know is moving and engaging from start to finish. The story is a relevant read for today, but also ends on a note of unabashed hope for tomorrow.
Set in a lush fantasy world inspired by various Asian cultures and mythologies, this silkpunk novella excels at using the macro to explore the micro. While the plot is steeped in a grandiose backdrop of imperial power, magical “slackcraft”, and brewing rebellion, the heart of the story focuses on a pair of twins and their coming-of-age. Born as political pawns, the siblings’ bond is challenged when one becomes the clairvoyant “Prophet”. As they each endeavor to find their role within fortune’s designs, they must also come to terms with their own identities and changing relationship with one another.
Thi Bui’s graphic memoir is a visceral exploration of her family’s history and tumultuous immigrant journey from Vietnam to the United States. The stark brushwork and gossamer ink-washed sequences evoke intense feelings as well as the dreamlike quality of remembering things veiled in uncertainty and unresolved questions. Such is the tone of Bui’s narration as she recounts generations of her family’s complex relationships impacted by their survival through colonization, war, and revolution. Her voice is both investigative and intimate, providing a humanizing lens into the manifold experiences of Vietnamese/Vietnamese-Americans that challenges stereotypical war narratives.