The uncomfortable feelings and experiences that we face as the children of Vietnamese refugees are encapsulated in Owner of a Lonely Heart, a memoir lodged in Beth Nguyen’s experience as a Vietnamese American. A sense of finality spans her book, accenting events like when our parents left Vietnam, after which some of us forgot our roots and those left behind in Vietnam.
Siblinghood is an intriguing thing: there could hardly be anyone in the world closer to a person than their sibling, but at the same time, the same world and circumstances can look so differently from each sibling’s perspective. The winner of the 2019 National Book Award for fiction, The Betrayed by Filipina-American writer and translator Reine Arcache Melvin, explores this complex relationship with heart, following two sisters as they navigate life in the Philippines through a turbulent dictatorship.
Zuihitsu, “lists built to cause surprise through a mix of surprise and variety,” are the cornerstone of Vi Khi Nao’s latest poetry collection My Yellow Heart. Prefaced by a copy of a blast email sent towards the end of March 2022, the collection is framed as an elongated response to a prompt. The email’s sender is Erik Ehn, who asks the recipients to practice in zuihitsu, “compassionate noting” for two weeks following the theme of “changed-for-changing.” The poetry collection follows suit, immediately creating a narrative through numbered lists, with the first half of poems titled with dates, as if in response to the prompt.
Tender Machines, J. Mae Barizo’s second full-length poetry collection, begins with the epigraph from Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar that tenderness is what women see in other women that they don’t see in a man. This book is for women, in all their roles and royalties—daughter, friend, lover, mother, great-grandmother.