#ownvoices

This August, it is all about Asian literature! From Korean pop culture (If I Had Your Face) to historical fiction (The Mountains Sing), here is a list of books we have specially selected for your weekend reading plans.

The Mountains Sing
The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.
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The Best We Could Do
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
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How We Disappeared
Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child. In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history.
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The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds
Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya—and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother. Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man. Together, they have ten children. But the cultural shift towards the West has begun, and Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.
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Bury What We Cannot Take
The day nine-year-old San San and her twelve-year-old brother, Ah Liam, discover their grandmother taking a hammer to a framed portrait of Chairman Mao is the day that forever changes their lives. To prove his loyalty to the Party, Ah Liam reports his grandmother to the authorities, but his belief in doing the right thing sets in motion a terrible chain of events. Now, they must flee their home on Drum Wave Islet, which sits just a few hundred meters across the channel from mainland China. But when their mother goes to procure visas for safe passage to Hong Kong, the government will only issue them on the condition that she leave behind one of her children as proof of the family’s intention to return.
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Soy Sauce for Beginners
Gretchen Lin, adrift at the age of thirty, leaves her floundering marriage in San Francisco to move back to her childhood home in Singapore and immediately finds herself face-to-face with the twin headaches she’s avoided her entire adult life: her mother’s drinking problem and the machinations of her father’s artisanal soy sauce business. In the midst of increasing pressure from her father to remain permanently in Singapore—and pressure from her mother to do just the opposite—Gretchen must decide whether she will return to her marriage and her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, or sacrifice everything and join her family’s crusade to spread artisanal soy sauce to the world.
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Beauty Queens of Bishan
In Bishan, the busiest suburb of Singapore, thirteen small beauty parlors coexist quietly, offering haircuts, bikini waxes and facials at no-nonsense prices. All that changes when a swanky new salon opens. D’Asthetique (Beauty is Skin Deep) is run by April Chua, the stylist to the stars. April’s plan for Bishan includes controlling her competitors through a new society, NAILSO (Neighbourhood Alliance of Independent Lifestyle Service Operators). The only person who dares to protest is the chubby Gurpreet Kaur, owner of Monty Beauty Spa. Both have clients in the upcoming Grand Glam Singapore Beauty contest. Will April’s shoe-in Candy Kang prove yet again why she is Singapore’s sweetheart? Or will Gurpreet’s client, Tara Chopra, prove a star on stage as well as in court?
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If I Had Your Face
Navigate the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul with four young women—where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, women compete for spots in secret 'room salons' to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move. 
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Everything I Never Told You
Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
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Crazy Rich Asians
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.
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Last Tang Standing
At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream. A successful law career, a posh condo, and fun-loving friends who know about all of Singapore’s hottest clubs. All that's left is to be made law partner, and she'll be living the perfect life that she's always envisioned. But her meddling Chinese–Malaysian family will always remind her that she is the last unmarried member of her generation in the Tang clan. That's not an issue, since Andrea doesn't need a man to complete her. So when a chance encounter throws a charming and wealthy entrepreneur and her annoyingly attractive office rival in her path, Andrea starts wondering if there is room for everyone to win in this endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself.
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Frankly in Love
High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo—his term for Korean–American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance—“Date Korean”—which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful—and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love—or himself—at all.
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