Joyce Chen is a second-generation Taiwanese-American writer, editor and journalist. Her writings have been published in Rolling Stone, Literary Hub, Narratively, People magazine, and the New York Daily News, among others. She is one of the founding editors of literary arts nonprofit, The Seventh Wave.
Doubt drives R.O. Kwon’s intriguing new novel, The Incendiaries, and it is omnipresent from page one: an unreliable narrator, a story imbued with a sense of mystery, and distrust developing between characters as each struggles to hide or reveal their true selves throughout the book. The narrative twists and turns in uncomfortable starts and stops, relying on the reader’s own skepticism to fill in the blanks where the narrator does not — fitting, given that the premise of the story is rooted in religion and redemption.
Clarissa Goenawan’s haunting debut novel, Rainbirds, has been likened to Haruki Murakami’s earlier work, and the comparisons are apt —for more layered reasons than might initially appear. For instance, yes, there are elements that are trademarks of Murakami’s novels —jazz music, a lone male protagonist, a whodunnit mystery, and an eccentric young woman to tie it all together —but much like Murakami’s own multi-faceted characters, Goenawan’s are hardly stand-ins for someone else’s stories.
I once wrote in a group email to several women — some friends and some strangers — that I was intrigued by air plants, those trendy little green plants that have become synonymous with sun-drenched, airy reading nooks and whimsical Instagram posts: