The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

“I have always loved books,” the head librarian confessed, “and my love of books led me to the love of scholarship. After reading so many books, studying so hard throughout my youth, it was a dream come true when I was appointed as a librarian here. What better place for me to have ended up than in the greatest library in the world, among so many books, so many treasures of scholarship. So I read and studied, until no one could match my erudition, not even the librarians who were older and had been here longer. So it was inevitable that I ultimately became the head librarian.

“But then, in the midpoint of my life, I was overcome by a terrible loneliness. I had spent so much time among books that I had lost touch with everyone I had known, including my family. I knew that both of my parents had died at some point, but I was too busy with my studies to attend their funerals. I know that they loved me, and I vaguely remembered loving them, but all that seemed like a story I read in book a long time ago.

“One day, while I was perusing a newly acquired work in my study, I heard some voices outside the window. When I looked out, I saw one of the younger librarians speaking with a girl from the town who worked as a cook at the library. They were holding hands, smiling at each other, and saying things that made them blush with happiness. The way the sun was illuminating them, they looked so fresh and beautiful that it caused a terrific pain in my heart. Perhaps it was a vision of what I missed out in my life, or perhaps it was the awakening of a feeling that lay dormant in my heart.

A troubled story about the loneliness and despair of an Indian family whose American dream turns sour: Kristy Gunn in The Guardian

Family_lifeWhat might it be like to be a member of a poor family living in Delhi that has emigrated to America? What job might your father do there? Where might you live? Family Life, the second widely acclaimed novel from the Indian-American writer Akhil Sharma, answers these questions. Look, every page seems to say: this is our apartment; this is what we eat. Listen, it says, how different it is here. And so we look and learn, while, in simple, straightforward prose, Family Life lays out a story of unbearable loss and estrangement. For not only is this novel about leaving a homeland for a new world in which nothing is like home, it is about another kind of migration altogether, which takes a family from everyday reality into a dark, secret place where grief has enclosed them.