Friends, it fills me with great, great joy to announce that I have teamed up with Talem Press (massive thanks to the publisher for working with me!) and my humble little business, Caffeine Book Tours, is spearheading the international blog tour for their most highly anticipated release, Relic by Bronwyn Eley!
Friends, let’s take a short break from all the happenings in Augvocacy 2019 and let’s turn the spotlight towards on a stunning and brilliantly evocative Mahabharata-inspired space opera novel that successfully broke my heart. Is my description too specific?
Well, if you must know, I am referring to no other than the heart-wrenching sequel to Sangu Mandanna’s A Spark of White Fire, which is entitled A House of Rage and Sorrow.
It’s bewildering how I was caught off-guard when this book shattered my soul into bleeding pieces when the word sorrow is literally in the title. Nonetheless, I am extremely excited to feature A House of Rage and Sorrow (accompanied by loving shouts and a million exclamation points!!!!!!), as well as to organize a huge international blog tour for it.
I have always felt mostly neutral about my birthday. I was never particularly excited about the idea of turning a year older or even the prospect of eating as much chocolate cake as I want. Maybe I felt differently when I was a kid, but I just can’t seem to remember.
But I digress. While I’ve always felt so-so bordering on meh whenever my birthday hits the calendar, I was honestly not looking forward to turning twenty-three (23) this year. In fact, I’d say that I was genuinely dreading the thought — or more specifically, the inevitability — that I was turning twenty-three today.
What do we mean when we talk about representation? It’s a word and concept that looks like something different for every single one of us.
For me, the first time I felt represented by a book was two years ago – in 2017 – when I read The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi. In fact, the reason I was drawn to this book in the first place was because I had never read a book with a Bangladeshi protagonist before. At 21 years old, having the opportunity to read this middle grade fantasy novel meant everything to me. It’s funny how we often talk about diverse books and the impact they will have on the generations of children who will read them today, but we never seem to address how those same books will similarly affect the generations of readers who grew up without them.
Growing up Asian, there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding us. People tend to relate Asia with just a few countries and disregard the rest of them. A lot of people doubt that India is a part of Asia, and this is one thing that really baffles me. There are 48 countries in Asia, and all of us are an equal part of it. Every culture has their own history, mythology and heritage and by disregarding those cultures, people tend to erase the reality.
In India itself, there are more than 500+ dialects and languages spoken. Everyone has their own perspective and beliefs and that makes for such a wonderfully diverse nation. Similarly, there are 47 other countries in Asia and they all have their own history and culture. Now imagine not paying attention to that and thinking that Asia just consists of China and Japan. Imagine thinking that all Asians look alike.
When I was in middle school, we had to attend a back-to-school assembly about inclusion and compassion and other touchy-feely topics that made our pre-teen selves shudder in disgust. One issue they covered was “nice” stereotypes, which were still stereotypes so we shouldn’t believe them — not all tall people are good at basketball, you know? (I personally wouldn’t know; I’ve always been the shortest in my class, so everyone else on my basketball team was both taller and a better player than me.)
It took me years to realize the underlying hypocrisy in the system.
I grew up ashamed of the fact that I lived in the Philippines because I had grown up with sisters, family members, teachers, peers, and basically everyone around me mentioning the miserable state of our country. They talked about the Philippines’ inferior standard of living to other countries. First World countries didn’t have as much corruption in their governments, and they had cleaner and better environments to live in, so why be proud of living in the Philippines?
Consequently, I disliked the fact that I was Chinese because maybe if I weren’t Chinese, I could’ve gotten to live in a first-world country.
All of that intensified when I first discovered the book community. Most of the readers I encountered years ago on the internet were white and residents of the US. Although I recall there were Asian readers on the internet at the time, they weren’t very vocal about it because diversity wasn’t much of a hot topic back then. None of them were international-based readers as well.