Speculative fiction writer, translator, and editor

Reading the Sino Diaspora

Nonfiction books about Chinese peoples, our cultures, our languages, and our histories, no matter where we are in the world. Also includes books that provide useful theoretical frameworks for understanding our experiences, with a caveat that this list leans toward Chinese-American experiences.

A Chinaman's Chance - Cover

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A fascinating history about Chinese miners in Idaho. The narrative Zhu builds around the Chinese settlers is one of power and resistance, in contrast to contemporary narratives of marginalization, revealing places where Chinese settlers thrived. However, the history does not address relationships (or lack thereof) with indigenous peoples in the region.

Vroman’s Bookstore
Cinderella’s Sisters - Cover

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The Chinese tradition of footbinding has been subject to intense exoticization and Western scrutiny. Instead of centering arguments about the vices and virtues of footbinding, Ko writes a revisionist history that illuminates the cultural pressures and power structures around footbinding, and what it meant to women themselves.

UC Press
Fire and Water - Cover

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Outdated romanization aside, Fire and Water provides a fascinating look not only into ancient Chinese warfare, but also the social and political philosophies behind war strategies. If something exists, my ancestors have found a way to weaponize it.

Book Depository
The Tao of Spycraft - Cover

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Fascinating look into cultural and philosophical motivations behind intelligence gathering in ancient China, including techniques for encoding information, various kinds of spy roles, and how Chinese intelligence gathering manipulates human psychology.

Book Depository
The Art of War - Cover

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Impeccably and traditionally bound new bilingual translation of Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War.

Book Depository
Mandarin Chinese - Cover

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A linguist-oriented in-depth overview of the grammar of Mandarin Chinese.

Book Depository
City of Darkness - Cover

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An absolutely unforgettable photo book chronicling the history of Kowloon Walled City, what made it the strange liminal space it was, and its eventual demolition. Includes photos of and stories from people who lived in the city. Gorgeous, heavy coffee table book.

Book Depository
Forbidden City - Cover

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Fantastic look into the subcultural phenomenon of Chinese nightclubs in the United States, including photos from the era and stories from performers.

Book Depository
Immigrant Acts - Cover

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Pan-Asian analysis of how Asian-American identity has been shaped by immigration politics and perceived refusal to assimilate. Critical for understanding Chinese-American experiences.

Book Depository
Partly Colored - Cover

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Fascinating account of growing up Asian American in a segregated South. Interrogates the Black–White racial binary and examines how Asians fit into the racial framework of the United States.

Book Depository
Racial Formation - Cover

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Required reading for understanding how a system of race has been created and enforced in the United States. Traces US history from the 1960s on to explore how various racial categories have been constructed.

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Witnessing - Cover

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Excessively academic in tone and style, but Kelly Oliver’s fundamental thesis remains solid as a framework for understanding Chinese-American identity and struggles: that recognizing our existence as marginalized people is not enough, and that witnessing and making welcoming connections is a more productive way to dismantle systemic racism.

Book Depository

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