Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – Jia, Book Blogger at A Book and Words, Recommends Her Favourite West Asian Books!

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition: Book Recommendations with Jia. Book blogger at A Book and Words. Jia recommends her favourite West Asian books! Illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if showing off something, with Jia as a Palestinian Sunbird wearing a keffiyeh to her right.

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

Something that I’m really grateful for in the book community is the wonderful voices and advocates that we see for a diversity of literature. In the context of Asian Heritage Month, it’s humbling and fulfilling to see so many Asian readers speak up and advocate so passionately for books that are meaningful to them. I love that, during Asian Heritage Month, we have seen Asians from around the world coming together to celebrate and share stories that they love.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Sangu Mandanna, Author of A Spark of White Fire; On Retelling Mahābhārata, Free Will versus Fate, and the Stories Behind Her Books

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month. Author Interview with Sangu Mandanna; author of A Spark of White Fire, on retelling mahabharata, free will versus fate, and the stores behind her books. illustration of xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if showing off something, with sangu as a deer wearing a green jumper and brown pants, waving whole holding a Nintendo Switch.

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

One of the best things that a reader can do for themselves is to read with curiosity and openness. When I started to diversify my reading and explore books by Asian authors that portrayed experiences outside my own, I was blown away by the beauty and wonder of their stories. In particular, I started to fall in love with retellings of Asian folklore and mythology. My first introduction to Asian mythology in young adult literature was A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, which only made me crave even more retellings.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with I.W. Gregorio, Author of This is My Brain in Love; On Being a Badass Teen Businesswoman, and Pretty Awesome Asian-Americans named Joce ;)

Our Friend is Here, Asian Heritage edition. author interview with i.w. gregorio author of this is my brain in love; on being a badass teen businesswoman, and pretty awesome asian americans named joce. illustration of cuddle the otter, holding her arms out wide like she is showing off something, with ilene w gregoria as a seal with a stethoscope around her neck and holding a dumpling

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

While we are experiencing the effects of a worldwide pandemic, I have personally been reaching for books that feel hopeful and relatable while also speaking to my experience. Because Asians and Asian-Americans have more frequently become the target of hate crimes and discrimination in this climate, I have been leaning on safe areas and books that feature characters that share that part of my identity.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with June Hur, Author of The Silence of Bones; On Craft, Homely Reminders, & Korean History

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month edition. author interview with june hur. author of the silence of bones; on craft, homely reminders, and korean history. illustration of sprout the sparrow, their arms stretched wide like they are showing off something, and june as a blue turtle wearing glasses, winking.

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

When I first read The Silence of Bones last month, I was deeply enchanted by the world the story was set in—the way all the settings were lushly crafted and had a solid sense of place, and how June’s careful research shone through in every aspect of the story, from the instigators of the primary conflict to the little details in the police bureau, where the protagonist Seol worked as an indentured servant.

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar – A Soft Yet Powerful YA Contemporary Featuring an F/F Romance that Battles Discrimination and Celebrates the Art of Henna

The Henna Wars, by Adiba Jaigirdar. Reviewed by Joce, (at) The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Joce’s review:

When CW told me that we were going to have Adiba Jaigirdar visiting the Pond, I was overjoyed because I am just so… moved by The Henna Wars. It is a young adult contemporary novel featuring an F/F romance, and also has its roots firmly planted in destroying homophobia, racism, bullying, and cultural appropriation. After I was done reading, I sat on the couch filled with warm, fuzzy feelings, but also feeling empowered to get this book in the hands of younger readers everywhere.

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