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Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero (Fred Chao)

Johnny Hiro is immensely entertaining. It’s funny, it’s silly, and it’s eccentric. Johnny appears to be an average Asian American man trying to lead a “normal” life (whatever that is), but with an extraordinary propensity for locating large-scale monsters, sticky situations, and groups of people…

Potiki (Patricia Grace)

Potiki is one of Patricia Grace’s most well-known novels. It’s deceptively simple, written in simple language but engaging with complex imagery and symbolism. Grace merges Christian mythology and Maori belief systems in a novel that is at once lyrical and political — that balance so…

Last Virgin in Paradise (Vilsoni Hereniko & Teresia Teaiwa)

  This play is highly entertaining, extremely versatile, and interestingly political. Intended for small-scale community performances, the playwrights encourage adaptation of cultural references in order to ensure relevance for audiences. The plot itself is simultaneously funny and political, and is full of little twists and…

The Virgin Project (K.D. Boze & Stasia Kato)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the tags for this particular book are all over the map. That’s because it’s a collection of real stories from real people about how they lost their virginity. Some of the stories are hysterical, some are deeply sad, and a few…

If I Ever Get Out of Here (Eric Gansworth)

I love this novel. In fact, I love it so much I’m writing a review of it for the journal Studies in American Indian Literatures — should be published in 2014. I don’t want to repeat myself, but suffice it to say this is a novel…

Mouse Guard 1152 (David Petersen)

Mouse Guard, Fall 1152 is the first of a small series of graphic novels for young adult readers. The illustrations are extremely appealing (read: cute, expressive, inventive) and the storyline itself is interesting enough. It’s not as complex as it could be, but that’s probably…

Daring Greatly (Brené Brown)

I read Daring Greatly as part of my personal mission for continuous self betterment. See, I usually have a really negative knee-jerk reaction to the word “vulnerability” (I associate it with weakness and danger and generally undesirable emotional conditions) and I’m trying to change that. In fact,…

Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong (Paul Chaat Smith)

Paul Chaat Smith, an associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), writes with a smart and witty voice that is at once captivating and instructive. In this collection of essays — some part-memoir, some part-history lesson, and others part-something else —…

Where We Once Belonged (Sia Figiel)

This novel is beautiful. It’s a little confusing at first, but as you continue reading you start to see the connections between the characters and the issues that are important to them. Alofa (whose name translates literally to “love”) is an adolescent girl living in a…

Dreaming in Cuban (Cristina Garcia)

I’ve been meaning to read Dreaming in Cuban since I purchased it in my college bookstore in the early 2000s. Yes, it’s been sitting on my shelf haunting me (pun intended) for over a decade. Am I glad I read it? Hell yes! Did I love…