Monday, November 21, 2016

HIDDEN YOUTH release and illustration!

My latest publication is Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History! And the book is officially out November 21, 2016!

My story "A Name to Ashes" will be the second story you'll read in the book, and it has this marvelous illustration by Alice Meichi Li! Alice is a Chinese-American artist based in New York City, and we talked a little about representation over Twitter. I love the illustration so much! Here is the black-and-white version you'll see in the book:

© Alice Meichi Li!
My story is about a young clerk who accompanies the historical Chen Lanpin on what would be known as the Chinese Commission to Cuba of 1874. Excerpts from the results of this report have been translated. I first learned about it when taking a class on race and racism in the United States, in which the professor gave us a transnational view of how slavery and indentured servitude created rifts and alliances between various groups. Our textbook for this segment of the course was Lisa Yun's The Coolie Speaks. I came across the Denise Helly translation, from 1993, through a generous donation by a professor who happened to have it and didn't need it anymore. (It is now extremely expensive to buy.)

This is a Hungry Ghost story. I got really tired of how white Westerners portray Hungry Ghost Month (I suppose it is a day these days in most places, but in Malaysia it is, still, culturally speaking, a whole month!!!) and I really wanted to write a story about the coolie trade, which I hadn't known about. The English translation of the report was extremely exhausting to read, because it's mostly a catalog of death and dying. But it's also about naming the people who died, reclaiming them, refusing to let their lives be written over. Many of these coolies were hoping that the commission would send word back to the families of their fallen. Almost all of the names in the story were drawn from actual instances recorded in both these books. You can read more about the story in this post.

I haven't had time to read the rest of the stories yet, but I'm really excited to be in an anthology with P. Djeli Clark! I'm a huge fan of his blog and his pop culture commentary, and his latest short story, "A Dead Djinn in Cairo" is a delight!

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