Elevate Difference

Reviews by Stephen Hong Sohn

World and Town

It is really tough to review Gish Jen’s World and Town. The novel is, on the one hand, drawn through an interesting narrative focalizer who often takes on the “wordspeak” of the characters that the narrator observes the representational terrain through. So when the narrative is concentrating on the Cambodian American teenager Sophy, we have the narrator constantly employing words such as like and whatever. Typical teenspeak, we might say. On the other hand, the novel has an exceedingly complex and varied topography in terms of its character webs, where Hattie Kong, one of the ostensible protagonists, is looking after a new family that has moved to the area, a small town in the New England area known as Riverlake (somewhat reminiscent of the continuing movement of ethnic minority populations to such towns as Lowell, MA).

Bijou Roy

Bijou Roy reminded me a bit of Sameer Parekh's Stealing the Ambassador. Both novels feature a young Indian American who visits India after his or her father's death in an attempt to understand the father better, especially his motivation for leaving his home country.

Buddha's Orphans

I’ve been behind the ball in the sense that I haven’t had a chance to read any works by Samrat Upadhyay. Upadhyay is a Nepalese-American writer, who has already published three full-length works of fiction, including Arresting God in Kathmandu, The Royal Ghosts, and The Guru of Love. His latest novel is called Buddha's Orphans, and since it was just published, I felt it would be the perfect place to address my reading oversight.


Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado is the novel made for re-reading. There are continual twists and turns and questions about the nature of fiction writing that immediately attune one to the constructed nature of the textual landscape.

A Thread of Sky

Six Chinese American female characters form the main narrative perspectives of Deanna Fei’s ambitious first novel, A Thread of Sky. There is family matriarch Lin Yulan, once a revolutionary for the nationalist party in China, and her daughters Irene and Susan.

Unfastened: Globality and Asian North American Narratives

In a similar vein as Caroline Rody’s The Interethnic Imagination and Rocío Davis' Begin Here, the monograph Unfastened has been a treat to read for the simple fact that author Eleanor Ty foref