Welcome back to THROUGHLINES, Kaya Press’s newsletter that bridges the gap between contemporary Asian Pacific literature and Asian American Studies. As we wrap up our summer of reading, we’re excited to FALL into a new season of API literature & culture! In our fifth issue, Gregory Toy shares his syllabus on reimagining Asian America in speculative fiction. Our running inventory grows with its fifth installment, highlighting recent publications by API diasporic authors. traci kato-kiriyama also offers insights on how her poetry collection, Navigating With(out) Instruments, can be read in classrooms for the third installment of our author interview series. In the first installment of our new series Endnotes, we compile trending media relevant to contemporary Asian American literature and culture. You can find updates on Kaya Press’s newest release, Muscle Memory, and information on how to obtain desk copies at the end of this newsletter.
If you have questions or comments for THROUGHLINES, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory Toy is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Occidental College.
What does an Asian/American future, revisionist history, or alternate reality look like? This seminar investigates how Asian American artists, filmmakers, and writers have responded to fantasies and fears of Asia—its cultural influence, its economic might, and its military ascendance—by appropriating the conventions of speculative fiction. We will examine how representations of Asian bodies and landscapes in possible futures or alternative histories challenge what David Roh, Betsy Huang, and Greta Niu call techno-orientalism—problematic visions of Asia as simultaneously hypo- and hyper-technological. Our initial focus on technological forms of orientalism will broaden to include a variety of speculative works that move beyond techno-orientalism and consider how writers are envisioning Asian American fantasies and futures in imaginative ways.
|Module 1: Techno-Orientalism|
|Module 2: Dystopia|
|Module 3: Space and Time|
|Module 4: Alternate (TV) Realities||
Book: Interior Chinatown (Yu)
|Module 5: Feminist Fantasy|
|Module 6: The Superhero|
A List of Recent Books from API Diasporic Writers, July-August 2022
This incomplete list is one in a series of inventories THROUGHLINES is developing as an informal resource for students, researchers and writers to find adjacencies among established and new writers alike. For an updated list of titles, visit: http://kaya.com/throughlines/inventories/.
Lemon – Kwok Yeo-Sun
A Map for the Missing – Belinda Huijuan Tang
Dead-End Memories – Banana Yashimoto
Radiant Fugitives – Nawaaz Ahmed
Golden Age – Wang Xiaobao
The Shining Sea – Koji Suzuki
Identitti – Mithu Sanyal
Intimacies – Katie Kitamura
The Haunting of Hajji Hotak & Other Stories – Jamil Jan Kochai
Death Doesn’t Forget – Ed Lin
China Room – Sunjeev Sahota
Gods of Want – K-Ming Chang
Kaleidoscope – Cecily Wong
traci kato-kiriyama (they+she), author of Navigating With(out) Instruments–based on unceded Tongva land in the south bay of Los Angeles– is an award-winning multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary artist, recognized for their work as a writer/performer, theatre deviser, cultural producer, and community organizer. As a storyteller and Artivist, tkk is grounded in collaborative process, collective self-determination, and art+community as intrinsically tied and a critical means toward connection and healing. For more information on tkk, check out http://www.traciakemi.com/about-2#/bio/.
Throughlines: What classes would your book be perfect to be taught in and why?
traci kato-kiriyama: Contemporary Poetry/Literature – NWI is a collection of writing formed through poetics, micro essays, notes to self/community/world, monologue, lyric, letters and other forms, anchored throughout by icons from military survival guides of the 1940s and 1950s.
- Urban Studies and courses on California and Los Angeles history – through pieces on family history and relationship to war, mass incarceration during WWII, eminent domain, as well as pieces centering on L.A. and Little Tokyo, NWI explores place, memory, and pain in relation to racial justice, family separation and Redress & Reparations
- Courses on Gender and Sexuality / Asian American and Ethnic Studies / Disease and Aging in relation to queerness, family, aging, disease, memory, intergenerational struggle, war, solidarity & liberatory lineages, and mental & emotional health – this is written through a lens of a queer, aging, cancer surviving, Asian American, POC, Nikkei, Buddhist/Agnostic, Artist/Organizer femme body and being! (our perspectives and experiences are intersectional and interconnected, right?)
- Courses on Death (and Buddhism) – (does that exist?) – one of the threads and a constant lens through which I wrote this book, is on Death Moments (aka near-death experiences), and while not explicitly said, comes through a perspective as a Buddhist/agnostic person.
- Courses on Art, Performance, and Creative Process – there are pieces throughout that were developed as part of my process as a theatre deviser and writer/performer and several pieces bring us to creative exercise and conversation on Process.
Throughlines: What themes / ideas / characters / poems / words in your book make it a good fit for teaching Ethnic Studies, English, or other literature-based courses?
For Ethnic Studies: 1) themes include war, incarceration, family and land separation and the bitter (“Serial Memory for Grandpa”; “No Redress”) and bittersweet (“Last Time in D.C.”) taste for a daughter & granddaughter of family incarcerated at Manzanar and Tule Lake – American concentration camps; joint struggle and solidarity (“Letters To Taz”; “NTNC on Reparations”; “NTNC on Comfort Women”); Asian American womxn/femmes and mental health (pieces tied to ideation; Mom; depression); intersectional pieces related to violence, solidarity, health (“Between Orlando and a Biopsy”; “On Mass Shootings”); on queer heroes, relations, family, love (“To Fukaya Michiyo”; “Where we would have gone”; “if i never meet your father”; etc); on heroes, family, love (“an homage to Yuri”; “The Invisible Capes of Little Tokyo”; “On America, Election Eve”; “Grandpa was, like, radical”; etc); on Art (“FUMIKO”; “…On the Asian American Red Carpet”; “N.T.theQuestioning-of-Self-Artist”; “Are you an artist?”; etc); on Los Angeles and place (“Obon…”; pieces on Little Tokyo; etc). – and all of the pieces in the book come through my lens as a queer, POC, Asian Am, Nikkei Artist/Organizer being.
English, literature-based courses, Contemporary Poetry: the overall architecture of the Navigating With(out) Instruments is at first glance a collection of writing and is like a very, very long-form Zuihitsu – in the most non formal sense, but very rooted in Author-as-anchor in response through micro and macro narratives tied to the world at large.
– notable “characters” in NWI – Grandpa; Mom; Death Moments; Notes To…; (the icons linking sections of NWI); Taz; me, the narrator/anchor to NWI
Throughlines: How can your book bring new perspectives to students?
traci kato-kiriyama: I’m excited to talk with students about their perspectives on Death; on Self as tied to Other and what we mean by “We”; on our writing & art as a part of our activism and actual community organizing work; on creative process and the need to give Self (and Other) permission to do…to begin…to keep going; on Los Angeles and the power of this place because of its PEOPLE, who have to work so incredibly hard and beyond the stereotypes, trappings, and misunderstandings of this wild, maddening, inspiring and complex city.
Throughlines: Does your book feature any experiences, settings, or characters that you wish were better represented in academia?
traci kato-kiriyama: Academia is a vast plane and is ever-changing, so I’m sure there are certain experiences or characters that I’d like to see “more” of that are in fact getting highlighted. I would like to see nuance, expansion, and complexity in discussions of “what is Asian American” or “Ethnic Studies” or “queer studies”, etc. – for example, the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival doesn’t approach their curation in terms of content, but in terms of people. So, their film festival, while often categorizing film programs on the schedule into themes, ultimately supports the Asian American filmmaker. This allows for us to gain insight into stories from the perspective of whole beings and thus we may see something directly related to APIDA identity as much as we might see narratives more “directly” on anything – from skateboarding to food to love, etc. NWI comes very much so from an intersectional POV, with a firm look at what I want to have more conversations about – on aging, on disease and folks feeling pressure to hide disease, on our relationship with family + ideation/depressions/mental and emotional wellness, on being “without child”, on Death, on “us” and “we”, on art and permission, on Los Angeles and place thriving because of PEOPLE (oft times despite its institutions and systems).
Throughlines: What other media (tv shows, books, articles, movies) do you think would pair well with your book?
traci kato-kiriyama: What a great question! I had an IG Live with Zora Satchell, a young poet and organizer out in New York who does workshops on cinema as tied to literature. Specifically for Navigating With(out) Instruments, she chose The Wash, and Strawberry Fields
If I can only add a few more, really quick here:
Wakako Yamauchi’s play, And The Soul Shall Dance
Renee Tajima Peña’s documentary My America, or Honk If You Love Buddha
Our play, TALES OF CLAMOR (where the SERIAL MEMORY – for Grandpa piece in the book was developed because of my work on the play and vice versa) -> just fyi – our teaser for TOC: https://vimeo.com/326962418/cf77279858
Michiyo Fukaya’s book of poetry: A Fire Is Burning It Is In Me
The Q&A Anthology 2.0 by Temple University Press
Mikiso Hane (Translator/Editor): Reflections On The Way To The Gallows – Rebel Women in Prewar Japan
HeyDay Books’ Life After Manzanar (stories of 50 families journeys after Manzanar; “No Redress” from NWI featured in it)
NCRR’s book: The Grassroots Struggle for Japanese American Redress and Reparations
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s Nobody Dies and Phenom.
Throughlines: What would having your book taught mean to you?
traci kato-kiriyama: It is a huge honor to have students read my writing and the best part is getting to have conversations on the poetry, stories, themes, issues, and creative (and physical and spiritual!) process. Even better is when I get to hear responses through their own writing – that is the ultimate gift – connection to the material and to each other through the conversation of our written and spoken word.
In this new series, THROUGHLINES compiles trending articles, films, and other media that are relevant to contemporary Asian American literature and culture.
1. Joel Kim Booster’s Pride & Prejudice-inspired film Fire Island made a splash this summer as “the first major rom-com to center gay Asian American leads,” exploring the intersections between race, sexuality, and class.
2. Som-Mai Nguyen’s polemical article “Blunt-Force Ethnic Credibility” addresses the tropes within Vietnamese diasporic writing, the need to signal cultural authenticity, and the dual role of ethnic writers as cultural ambassadors.
3. Amitava Kumar’s open letter to Hadi Matar briefly traces Salman Rushdie’s legacy following a recent attack on the author, as well as Kumar’s personal connection to his writing.
4. Andrea Long Chu’s sharp longform “The Mixed Asian Metaphor” takes a look at mixed Asian literature from the last decade and beyond, from Celeste Ng to Jay Caspian King.
Jenny Liou’s debut collection of poetry, Muscle Memory, is here! The tender, spare poems within this book move deftly and with defiant grace between the chain-link enclosure of the prizefighter’s cage and the vanishing ghosts of the diaspora. This book examines topics such as immigration, generational trauma, and (familial) relationships, which makes it an excellent choice for high school and college students in English and Asian American studies courses. The different types of poem presented in this collection—lyric, narrative, prose—enable students to access lessons and themes from different entry points while providing an enriching opportunity to dig into literary and cultural analysis. Email email@example.com to request desk copies.