Robots and K-Town Queens - APA Month Books

I can't believe it's almost the end of May! Ah! I've got to make the best of this last week for my APA highlights. It's a good thing I found my box of Asian Am Studies books this weekend.

So without further ado, here's two books I really enjoyed.

1. Robot Stories and more Screenplays by Greg Pak: Okay, so this one isn't really a book. It's a collection of the screenplays that make up Robot Stories plus a few others. The Robot Stories film consists of these 4 sci-fi-ish stories: "My Robot Baby," "The Robot Fixer," "Machine Love," and "Clay."

My favorite of these was "The Robot Fixer," in which a mother becomes obsessed with fixing and completing her now comatose son's childhood collection of robot toys in an effort to reconnect with him after years of estrangement. It's a touching portrayal of grief, healing, and the dichotomy that technology (as represented by the robots) can be both distancing and connective.

Not only are these thoughtful stories, the short films also give screen time to talented APA actors.

You can find out more about Robot Stories here at the Robot Stories website.

2. Queens of K-Town by Angela Mi Young Hur:

This was a novel that my Asian Am Lit professor took a chance on because it was a debut novel the year she taught it to us, and she didn't know how well it'd work for a class. I was surprised by how much I liked it because I was a little skeptical, especially when faced with the dual narratives told in different points of view (1st and 3rd, if you're curious).

This is your edgy, coming-of-age story of four teenaged friends set in glitzy and gritty NYC Koreatown, but it's actually a double coming-of-age story because it has parallel story lines - one set ten years in the past, the other set in the present. At 26, Cora Moon returns to NYC determined to end her life, mirroring her friend's suicide ten years ago. While planning out the last week of her life, Cora remembers the events of the summer when she was sixteen and tries to make sense of her life then and now.

The book is a fresh take on both the immigrant experience and the identity struggles faced by many 1.5 and second generation Asian Americans, and it does so without being overly melodramatic or heavy-handed. It's also just a well-drawn portrayal of the turbulence of young adulthood. The prose is a little uneven at times, but overall, it's engaging and rich. Angela Hur manages to capture the essence of specific places and events, and though the premise seems kind of depressing, the story itself isn't. I also ended up really liking the dual narrative. It was an interesting way to show how Cora has changed and how she's the same, and it ups the tension as the story circles towards the ledge of a building.

That's it for now. See you again soon for more books and features as the month wraps up.

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