For Asian Heritage Month, CIBA is shining a spotlight on Linda Rui Feng, Genki Ferguson, Larissa Lai, Jen Sookfong Lee, Thao Lam, Ann Shin and Sarah Suk, Canadian authors of Asian descent who are contributing to Canada’s rich literary landscape. Join us in celebrating Asian Heritage Month and the achievements of all authors of Asian descent in Canada by reading and sharing their stories.
Swimming Back to Trout River
By Linda Rui Feng
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
In the summer of 1986 in a small Chinese village, ten-year-old Junie receives a momentous letter from her parents, who had left for America years ago: her father promises to return home and collect her by her twelfth birthday. But Junie’s growing determination to stay put in the idyllic countryside with her beloved grandparents threatens to derail her family’s shared future.
What Junie doesn’t know is that her parents, Momo and Cassia, are newly estranged from one another in their adopted country, each holding close private tragedies and histories from the tumultuous years of their youth during China’s Cultural Revolution. While Momo grapples anew with his deferred musical ambitions and dreams for Junie’s future in America, Cassia finally begins to wrestle with a shocking act of brutality from years ago. In order for Momo to fulfill his promise, he must make one last desperate attempt to reunite all three members of the family before Junie’s birthday—even if it means bringing painful family secrets to light.
Born in Shanghai, Linda Rui Feng has lived in San Francisco, New York, and Toronto. She is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia Universities and is currently a professor of Chinese cultural history at the University of Toronto. She has been twice awarded a MacDowell Fellowship for her fiction, and her prose and poetry have appeared in journals such as The Fiddlehead, Kenyon Review Online, Santa Monica Review, and Washington Square Review. Swimming Back to Trout River is her first novel. Visit LindaRuiFeng.com to learn more.
By Genki Ferguson
Published by McClelland & Stewart
Set in 1999 Japan, Satellite Love is a heartbreaking and beautifully unconventional debut novel about a girl, a boy, and a satellite--and a bittersweet meditation on loneliness, alienation, and what it means to be human.
On the eve of the new millennium, in a city in southern Japan that progress has forgotten, sixteen-year-old Anna Obata looks to the stars for solace. An outcast at school, and left to fend for herself and care for her increasingly senile grandfather at home, Anna copes with her loneliness by searching the night sky for answers. But everything changes the evening the Low Earth Orbit satellite (LEO for short) returns her gaze and sees her as no one else has before.
After Leo is called down to Earth, he embarks on an extraordinary journey to understand his own humanity as well as the fragile mind of the young woman who called him into being. As Anna withdraws further into her own mysterious plans, he will be forced to question the limits of his devotion and the lengths he will go to protect her.
Full of surprising imaginative leaps and yet grounded by a profound understanding of the human heart, Satellite Love is a brilliant and deeply moving meditation on loneliness, faith, and the yearning for meaning and connection. It is an unforgettable story about the indomitable power of the imagination and the mind's ability to heal itself, no matter the cost, no matter the odds.
Genki Ferguson was born in New Brunswick to a family of writers and grew up in Calgary. He spent much of his childhood in the subtropical island of Kyushu, Japan, where his mother's family still resides. Fluent in Japanese and capable of making a decent sushi roll, Genki was the recipient of the 2017 Helen Pitt Award for visual arts, and recently completed a degree in Film Production while working part-time at Book Warehouse, an indie store in Vancouver.
Iron Goddess of Mercy
By Larissa Lai
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press
Iron Goddess of Mercy by Lambda Literary Award winner Larissa Lai (for the novel The Tiger Flu) is a long poem that captures the vengeful yet hopeful movement of the Furies mid-whirl and dance with them through the horror of the long now. Inspired by the tumultuous history of Hong Kong, from the Japanese and British occupations to the ongoing pro-democracy protests, the poem interrogates the complicated notion of identity, offering a prism through which the term 'Asian' can be understood to make sense of a complex set of relations. The self crystallizes in moments of solidity, only to dissolve and whirl away again. The poet is a windsock, catching all the affect that blows at her and ballooning to fullness, only to empty again when the wind changes direction. Iron Goddess of Mercy is a game of mah jong played deep into the night, an endless gamble. Summoning the ghosts of history and politics, Iron Goddess of Mercy explores the complexities of identity through the lens of rage and empowerment.
Larissa Lai is the author of three novels, The Tiger Flu (Lambda Literary Award winner), Salt Fish Girl, and When Fox is a Thousand, and three poetry books, Sybil Unrest (with Rita Wong), Automaton Biographies (shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), and the forthcoming Iron Goddess of Mercy. She is also the winner of Lambda Literary's Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize, and an Astraea Award. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary where she directs the The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing.
By Thao Lam
Published by Owlkids Books
Even though it’s only four simple, familiar letters long, nobody can pronounce Thao’s name. She’s been called Theo, Tail, even Towel! But the teasing names—Tofu, Tiny, China Girl—are worse. Maybe it’s time to be someone else? Thao decides to try on a different name, something easy, like Jennifer.
It works, but only until she opens her lunchbox to find her mother’s Vietnamese spring rolls, —Thao’s favorite! Now, it feels a lot more comfortable to be herself.
Simple on the surface, this story inspired by Thao’s own childhood is full of humor, heart, and important ideas of diversity, inclusion, and cultural pride. The story will be instantly relatable to readers who have ever felt different.
Designed with a playful emphasis on typography, and Thao’s own childhood photos added to her signature cut-paper collage, champions being true to yourself and your background, and being empathetic towards others. It is a celebration of all that’s in a name and the power of owning your identity.
is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of , , , and , named a best book of 2020 by , , , the , CBC, and others . She studied illustration at Sheridan College and has an insatiable love of colored and textured papers, which she uses to create her exuberant collages. She draws inspiration from the stories she hears, from the beauty in everyday things, and from the work of the many illustrators she admires. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Finding Home: The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees
By Jen Sookfong Lee
Published by Orca Book Publishers
What drives people to search for new homes? From war zones to politics, there are many reasons why people have always searched for a place to call home. In we discover how human migration has shaped our world. We explore its origins and the current issues facing immigrants and refugees today, and we hear the first-hand stories of people who have moved across the globe looking for safety, security and happiness. Author Jen Sookfong Lee shares her personal experience of growing up as the child of immigrants and gives a human face to the realities of being an immigrant or refugee today.
Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised on Vancouver's East Side, and she now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award; The End of East; Gentlemen of the Shade; Chinese New Yearand The Animals of Chinese New Year. Jen teaches at The Writer's Studio Online with Simon Fraser University, edits fiction for Wolsak & Wynn and co-hosts the literary podcast Can't Lit.
The Last Exiles
By Ann Shin
Published by Park Row Books (HarperCollins Canada)
Jin and Suja meet and fall in love while studying at university in Pyongyang. She is a young journalist from a prominent family, while he is from a small village of little means. Outside the school, North Korea has fallen under great political upheaval, plunged into chaos and famine. When Jin returns home to find his family starving, their food rations all but gone, he makes a rash decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, miles away, Suja has begun to feel the tenuousness of her privilege when she learns that Jin has disappeared. Risking everything, and defying her family, Suja sets out to find him, embarking on a dangerous journey that leads her into a dark criminal underbelly and tests their love and will to survive.
In this vivid and moving story, award-winning filmmaker Ann Shin offers a rare glimpse at life inside the guarded walls of North Korea and the harrowing experiences of those who are daring enough to attempt escape. Inspired by real stories of incredible bravery, is a stunning debut about love, sacrifice and the price of liberty.
Ann Shin is a filmmaker and award-winning writer. Her documentary My Enemy, My Brother was shortlisted for a 2016 Academy Award and nominated for an Emmy. Her documentary, The Defector: Escape from North Korea won 7 awards including Best Documentary and Best Documentary Director at the 2014 Canadian Screen Academy Awards, a SXSW Interactive Award, and a Canadian Digi Award. She has directed programs for CBC, Discovery Channel, HGTV, History Channel, W Network, PBS, and Fine Living Network.
Made in Korea
By Sarah Suk
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
Sarah Suk (pronounced like with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. is her first novel. You can visit Sarah online at SarahSuk.com and on Twitter and Instagram @SarahAeliSuk.