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Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora

Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora - Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Mariam B Lam, Kathy L Nguyen This is a beautiful book. Reading it is an experience much more like strolling through a well-done art exhibit than reading a book. Before I settled in to read it, I paged through it forwards, then backwards, soaking in the atmosphere of the book. And then reading it was a rewarding experience.

I must say that the introduction was the driest part of the anthology (as could be expected, I suppose), and I almost wish that I had waited to read that until I had read through the collection and formed my own opinion of it. The introduction was clearly written by people who had spent many hours of agonized study, deciding what to put in the anthology in what order and what to keep out, and the introduction is almost a defense of their decisions. It's informative, but at the beginning it interferes with the message of the artists and writers, who are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

There are a few pieces that miss there and there, as I would expect. But there were several that have real staying power. A short piece by Marsha Galaicia-Monroe about finding a home in being different particularly resonated with me, and so I mention it, but there were many others that are just as strong and even more powerful.

Most of the literature in the collection is poetry, and I didn't expect that but was pleasantly surprised by it. There are a few personal essays, short stories, and novel excerpts, but the anthology is dominated by visual art and poetry. It does, as the editors had hoped, capture the diversity of the community of women it represents. I'm not an expert on diasporic art and literature (is that a thing?), so I'm not going to evaluate the academic and cultural value of the book. I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has enriched my life. I'm thankful to to have received it.

This was a GoodReads FirstReads book, sent to me by the publisher.