there, I said. I don’t. I know it’s this kind of taboo subject in the Asian community, because I’ve talked about it with some of my friends, and we feel the same thing. as an Asian reader from a less well-known country, I don’t feel represented. don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy to see how many Asian books are being published lately, it’s what I want to see. but I cannot help but feel left out.
when looking at the Asian books being published, I see a lot of Korean or Chinese books, and I understand. I truly do. k-pop is a big thing, it’s becoming more and more something many people can bond over, something many more people listen to. and I’m so happy it opened doors to Korean authors, this is what they deserve. the Korean culture is beautiful and deserves to be seen. and it’s the same thing for the Chinese culture. I understand more people know about China because it’s such a big and influential country. and once again, I am so happy Chinese authors are given the opportunity to express themselves.
don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the Asian authors who are finally given the opportunity to use their voice. it’s not on them. I’m just looking at the publishing world and wondering, what about smaller countries? what about the Philippines? what about Thailand? what about Cambodia? what about Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and so many other countries? what about our representation? do you think we do not deserve to be seen? do you think all Asian people are the same? I really am wondering.
the fact is, if I want to read about Vietnam, I have to look through many many articles, and what I find are mostly modern classics or, you guessed it, books about war. I have this shelf on goodreads called ‘vietnamese’ and you know how many books are on it? seven. and it breaks my heart. kids need to see themselves in the books they read. teenagers need to see themselves in the books they read. young adults need to see themselves in the books they read. many of us struggle with our dual identity, with a sense of belonging nowhere, and how can we know we’re not alone if we do not get to read about it?
I’m thankful for Thanhha Lai, I’m thankful for Helen Hoang, I’m thankful for Julie C. Dao, I’m thankful for Thi Bui, I’m thankful for Jenn P. Nguyen, I’m thankful for Viet Thanh Nguyen, but now it’s on you publishers. this is not enough. you need to do better. it’s your duty to give people the representation they deserve.
that’s it for today, I’ll see you soon, have a nice day 🌿