This week we’re delving into young diasporic writers who attempt to capture the confusion, challenge and hilarity that can ensue from trying to navigate and straddle the two worlds of their identity - that of their current homeland and that of their ancestors and cultural traditions.
Take Eli, a young boy from Melbourne whose taken to ardent wrist-flicking with an elastic band to try and cure himself of homosexuality on the advice of an internet Rabbi in ‘The Boy’s Own Manual To Being Jewish’, Libby’s mother who calls herself an “American Mixed Grill” courtesy of her blended American-Chinese heritage in ‘The Hundred Secret Senses’ and Frank-Li or Sung-Min Li in ‘Frankly In Love’ whose Korean-born parents have given him 2 names, both carefully crafted in line with numerology and cosmology to bring him the western luck of number 7 and the eastern fortune of number 9, yet neither can prevent him from falling for his South Californian classmate Brit who he knows his family will never approve of.
Books such as these are fascinating and heart-warming, an empathetic glimpse behind the curtain, they reveal some of the secret struggles and joys both ourselves and our friends, family, classmates, co-workers and neighbours may be going through in this complex, modern world. They grapple with both big topics and small, revealing details of personal relationships, sexuality, ancient traditions, domestic and familial customs, culinary delights and the evolution and adaptation of these things into many quirky and complicated derivatives. And they raise the timeless question of what culture, identity and geography mean to each of us individually and as a whole.
In the preface to Zadie Smith’s ‘The Autograph Man’, Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce is quoted as saying “ If you live in New York or (other) big (American) cities you are (by default) Jewish even if you are Catholic and if you live in Butte, Montana you’re going to be goyish even if you’re Jewish”. In the modern world our lines of identity are no longer cut and dry, though, as many diasporic creatives prove, our humour and candour certainly can be.
It’s never too late or too early to expand our minds, our understanding of ourselves and those around us. And with accessibility to fabulous authors such as these, there are sure to be many giggles, tears and insights revealed along the way. Why not pick up one of these great titles today?!
Relevant in-store titles include:
The Autograph Man - Zadie Smith
The Boy’s Own Manual To Being A Proper Jew - Eli Glasman
Frankly In Love - David Yoon
The Hundred Secret Senses - Amy Tan
In The Midst Of Winter - Isabel Allende
The Japanese Lover - Isabel Allende
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
The Opposite Of Fate - Amy Tan
The Valley Of Amazement - Amy Tan
Happy Reading from the Team at Dorothy Dickens Books and Music!