The latest issue of The Asian American Literary Review is out. It’s a major step up in the young life of The AALR in terms of ambition and production. Guest editors Rajini Srikanth and Parag Khandhar, as well as Editors-in-Chief Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis and Gerald Maa, are to be congratulated heartily. The East Coast-based AALR commemorates a decade in Asian America after 9/11. The entire Asian community in New York has seen things change profoundly in obvious ways (racial profiling of South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans; the conversion of Chinatown into a parking garage for the Feds) and in subtle ways (Afghani restaurants took down maps of the country from their dining rooms). It is a full-scale multimedia effort: The print journal collects first-person testimonies and transcribed discussions and interviews, while there are also visual art sections and an illuminating DVD.
The pieces range from angry to somber to bitingly satiric. A long-time contributor to Time is eyed carefully after an airport customs official sees a Syria stamp on his passport and thinks the journalist’s chicken-scrawl handwriting is Arabic. A 13-year-old plaintively asks to live in a world “without having the thought of something bad happening to you.”
In words, images and performance, we find that when we view the most unforgettable events from dozens of viewpoints, we not only honor the past but also contemplate our future.
Pushkar Sharma‘s mindblowing “10 Little Coolies” spoken-word piece from the DVD.
One of five of Tomie Arai‘s works in the print issue.