In the United States, May is the month for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and in the book-blogging community we’re also celebrating this month. Members of Pasifika and some Asian bloggers got together and created this reading challenge to promote literature written by Asians.
When I saw the bingo card for this reading challenge, I knew I had to try and complete a line myself. I don’t read as many books by Asian authors as I should and so I thought this would be the perfect way to push me out of my comfort zone. To read about the rules, and to see the Asian Lit Bingo challenge card, as well as my TBR, keep reading this post! 🌞
How beautiful is this bingo card! It caught my eye when I was blog hopping and made me even more interested in participating!
If you want to participate too, here are some pieces of information:
- The reading challenge will take place this month, and so bloggers and readers have until May 31st to complete their bingo card.
- The books entered must have been written by an Asian author or an author of Asian descent.
- If you’re using Twitter or Instagram to talk about your involvement in the challenge, use the hashtag #AsianLitBingo.
- The goal is to complete a line (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) by reading 5 books, each square represents one book.
You should visit Shenwei @ ReadingAsiam blog post about the reading challenge to know all the rules! They write about books written by Asian and Asian-anglophone writers and has really interesting opinions. Definitely worth checking out.
You can also check out a compilation of some books you can use for each of the grid spaces on the bingo card here. It was definitely helpful for me!
This month I’ll try to complete the first diagonal line that starts with the first square. Here are the reading challenges and what I’ve chosen to read:
East Asian Main Character: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Penny Lee has just graduated from high school and is moving to college in Austin, Texas to study how to become a writer. To make her dream true, she leaves all her friends, family, and boyfriend behind in her hometown, 97 miles away from Austin. Sam is working at a café and also sleeping there, broke and only with the hope that everything will be better once he’s a renowned movie director. One day, Sam and Penny meet and exchange numbers and start to develop a friendship.
I’ve been hearing so many good things about this book that I just had to get it immediately. I love stories about the online world and this one promises to be that. Also, if you’ve been
reading my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a sucker for contemporary and coming-of-age stories.
I chose Emergency Contact for this reading challenge because Mary H.K. Choi is Korean and the main character is East Asian. I don’t know where her family is, but I’m putting my money on South Korea (just like the author). I hope I’ll love this book!
West Asian Main Character: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
Scott Ferdowsi is a student whose parents are trying to push him into choosing a “career” (read: become a doctor or an engineer) against his wishes. He has a reputation for not following through on what he starts, and so he decides to seek guidance from a professor in Washington DC who has specialized in the psychology of success. Lost on this new adventure, he meets new people and does things he’s never done before, all while finding himself and what he wants to be.
I can definitely relate to Scott in that I, too, was being pushed onto a field I had no interest in pursuing and wasn’t sure about what to do next. For this reason, I’m very interested in this book to see how Scott deals with his problems. I have also heard really good things about this book from other book blogger and booktubers, so all the more reason to get my nose in it!
I’ve read on Goodreads that the main character is Persian, but that the author doesn’t draw attention to this — he’s just a teen, and not a Persian teen, I guess. I’m interested to see who Scott is.
Free Space (Contemporary in Asia): Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
New Yorker Rachel Chu is excited to go spend the summer with her boyfriend and his family in Singapore. As they arrive in Nicholas Young’s home city, Rachel is shocked to learn that, much to her surprise, her boyfriend comes from a wealthy family. She quickly learns that being Asia’s most eligible bachelor’s girlfriend puts a target on her back, and so she must learn how to navigate the gossip, the take-downs, and the old-money environment of Singapore.
I love books about gossip, intrigue, and the crazy ridiculous social dynamics of wealthy families. I don’t know what it is that draws me in, but they usually get me hooked from the first chapter.
Since this one has been on my shelf for a while now, I decided to include it in the reading challenge. The main characters are, as far as I know, all Chinese (both mainland and overseas) and American-born Chinese. There’s also a movie adaptation of the series coming out in August 2018!
You can watch the trailer here:
Central Asian Main Character: Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov
Jamilia is a novel told from the perspective of a fictional Kyrgyz artist called Seit. He takes a dive into the memories from his childhood and tells the story of Jamilya, his then-new sister-in-law. Jamilya and a local crippled young man called Daniyar had somewhat of a love connection while Jamilya’s husband was “away at the front” fighting in the Red Army during WWII.
My best friend recommended this book to me last summer, but I just set it on the back burner. It’s her favorite book and now that she’s away studying I really want to read it and talk to her about it.
The author, Chingiz Aitmatov, was born in Kyrgyzstan and Jamilia takes place in northwestern Kyrgyzstan. I have never read a book set here, so I’m more than excited to get to it this month.
South Asian Main Character: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Set in Bombay in the year of 1921, Perveen Mistry has just become one of the first female lawyers in India. Because of a tragic personal history, Perveen is especially dedicated to championing and protecting women’s rights. One day, as the law firm she works for is handling Mr. Omar Farid’s will, she notices something strange. All three of Mr. Farid’s widows have signed off their share of the will to the same charity, leaving them nothing at all. These three widows live in absolute confinement, which prompts Perveen Mistry to investigate how they are and if their rights are not being respected.
I’ve written about this book on my blog (click here if you want to see what I wrote) and since then I’ve been waiting for an excuse to get my hands on it. Now is the time!
The main characters are all Indian (as far as I could gather from the reviews and blurb) and this is set in Bombay. The author was born in England but is of Indian descent. Once again, I don’t read a lot of books by Indian authors, so this is the right time to start.
And this is my list! I hope I can get to these five books this month, but I’m going to say that I doubt it will happen. It’s (finally) the final month of university and deadlines and assignments are lining up — but I’ll do my best!
What about you? Are you also doing the Asian Lit Bingo reading challenge? Link me to your post so I can see what books you’ve chosen!