a bunch of books I have yet to read

On my desk, I have a rapidly growing stack of books awaiting a read and review. Considering that I don't have a lot of time set aside in my schedule for leisure reading, and it usually takes forever for me to get through a book, I estimate I will finally get through them all sometime in the winter of 2013. But I figure I could at least list out the books, with a capsule description, and maybe you can read them (hopefully faster than I do):

Concentration Camps on the Home Front: Japanese Americans in the House of Jim Crow
by John Howard
Without trial and without due process, the United States government locked up nearly all of those citizens and longtime residents who were of Japanese descent during World War II. Ten concentration camps were set up across the country to confine over 120,000 inmates. Almost 20,000 of them were shipped to the only two camps in the segregated South - Jerome and Rohwer in Arkansas -locations that put them right in the heart of a much older, long-festering system of racist oppression. The first history of these Arkansas camps, Concentration Camps on the Home Front is an eye-opening account of the inmates' experiences and a searing examination of American imperialism and racist hysteria. More here.

Unpolished Gem: My Mother, My Grandmother, and Me
by Alice Pung
This is an original take on a classic story -- how a child of immigrants moves between two cultures. It combines the story of author Alice Pung's own Chinese-Australian experience growing up in suburban Footscray with the inherited stories of the women in her family -- stories of madness, survival and heartbreak. More here.

Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee's Return to Korea
by Jane Jeong Trenka
Whenever she speaks to a stranger in her native Korea, Jane Jeong Trenka is forced to explain what she is. Japanese? Chinese? The answer—that she was adopted from Korea as a baby and grew up in the United States - is a source of grief, pride, and confusion.

Trenka's award-winning first book, The Language of Blood, told the story of her upbringing in a white family in rural Minnesota. Now, in this searching and provocative memoir, Trenka explores a new question: Can she make an adult life for herself in Korea? Despite numerous setbacks, Trenka resolves to learn the language and ways of her unfamiliar birth country.

In navigating the myriad contradictions and disjunctions that have made up her life, Trenka turns to the lessons from her past - in particular, the concept of dissonance and harmony learned over her years as a musician. In Fugitive Visions, named after a composition by Prokofiev, Trenka has succeeded in braiding the disparate elements of her life into a recognizable and at times heartbreaking whole. More here.

Once They Hear My Name: Korean Adoptees and Their Journeys Toward Identity
Edited by Ellen Lee, Marilyn Lammert and Mary Anne Hess
This collection of oral histories features the stories of nine Korean American adoptees and the struggles they've shared as foreigners in their native lands. From their early confrontations with racism and xenophobia to their later-in-life trips back to Korea to find their roots (with mixed results), these narratives illustrate the wide variety of ways in which all adoptive parents and adoptees -- not just those from Korea -- must struggle with issues of identity, alienation, and family. More here.

Water Ghosts
by Shawna Yang Ryan
Locke, CA, 1928 -- Three bedraggled Chinese women suddenly appear out of the mist one afternoon in a small Chinese farming town on the Sacramento River, and their arrival throws the community into confusion. Two of the women are unknown to the townspeople, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor, who had left her behind in China many years earlier and had not yet returned for her.

Richard's wife's unexpected arrival complicates his life in no small way -- not least with two prostitutes at the local brothel he frequents. One, the beautiful young Chloe, depends on him but has eyes for someone else, someone even more forbidden -- the local preacher's daughter. The other, Poppy, the psychic madam of the brothel, is desperately in love with him, and she begins to sink into despair as he grows further and further away from her.

As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women, Poppy's premonitions begin to foretell a deep unhappiness for all involved. And when a flood threatens the livelihood of the entire town, the frightening power of these mysterious women who arrived in the mist will be revealed. More here.

Salvinia Molesta
by Victoria Chang
Victoria Chang's collection takes its title from what many call "the worst weed in the world," a plant so rapidly and uncontrollably invasive that it is illegal to sell or possess in the United States. Chang focuses her attention to occurrences in the world that many poets find too violent or disturbing to write about, thereby making her own distinctive aesthetic from that which is, like Salvinia molesta, both creepy and beautiful. More here.

Escaping North Korea
by Mike Kim
The first of its kind, this book provides a rare and unique inside look into the hidden world of ordinary North Koreans. Mike Kim, who worked with refugees on the Chinese border for four years, recounts their experiences of enduring famine, sex-trafficking, and torture, as well as the inspirational stories of those who overcame tremendous adversity to escape the repressive regime of their homeland and make new lives. More here.

The Piano Teacher
by Janice Y.K. Lee
In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In the author's own words: "It's a historical novel set in WWII Hong Kong about two women, Claire and Trudy, who are in love with the same man but at different times in his life. Their stories are told in alternating sections, and as the book progresses, the reader finds out more about events that happened during the war, events that affected and will affect their lives enormously." More here.

Great Call of China
by Cynthea Liu
Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she's bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi'an, China, she jumps at the chance. She'll be able to learn about her passion -- anthropology -- and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots.

But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she's been looking for? More here.

Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game
by Paul Midler
Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China's export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges.

An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read.

Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern-day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye-opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimately suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone."

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