There’s a week of winter break left, and only a few days before the year ends. So if you’re looking for something to read or watch during 2012, here are some suggestions (Asian/Asian-American in some way, of course):


Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind. –

I think Lahiri’s first collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, is more well known. But Unaccustomed Earth…doesn’t have better stories, I would say, but longer stories, more nuanced, more heartbreaking. Taken together it’s one long, dull ache of bittersweetness


Huntress (artist: Marcus To)

Look out! By the end of this hot new miniseries, the Huntress will have the largest price on her head in DC Universe history. What will the Huntress do that warrants such a death mark? And who puts it there? The jaw-dropping events will be revealed as the Huntress heads home to Italy and embarks on a mission that defines her life. –

This is a fast-paced, entertaining series with a fierce leading lady, and the art by Marcus To is gorgeous. Seriously, clothes porn and beautiful flowing hair everywhere. You couldn’t ask for a better combination.

Wonder Woman (artist: Cliff Chiang)

The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces.

But is she one of us – or one of them? –

And that woman is, of course, Wonder Woman (or Diana, as she prefers to be called). I’m a big fan of mythology: gods, monsters, heroic journeys, etc., and this series adheres to that genre, except with some interesting new interpretations of old gods like Apollo and Hermes. Not to mention it’s another series with a lead female character and gorgeous art, this time by Cliff Chiang.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain run)

Exploding out from no man’s land — the all-new Batgirl! In the midst of No Man’s Land, Batman gave a nameless girl with a violent past the costume and title of Batgirl. Exceeding his expectations, the new, silent Batgirl quickly made the role her own, earning the trust of the Dark Knight’s allies, including the first Batgirl, Oracle. Now, in post-No Man’s Land Gotham, Batgirl struggles to learn the lessons of how to live a normal life, lessons she never learned from her mentor, the deadly assassin known as Cain. And when a mercenary from her past resurfaces, bent on revenge, can Batgirl bury her own violent tendencies and break the cycle of death and destruction that has dogged her since childhood? –

And finally, a series that I’ve talked about before but didn’t manage to read until recently: the 2000 Batgirl run, with Cassandra Cain. Unlike the other two, this is a series with an Asian American protagonist. There’s not a lot about Cassandra’s race and assimilation and etc. But as a series about a young woman who tries so hard to redeem herself for something she did as a kid, without any understanding; about someone who will protect everyone on her watch, no matter what; about an amazing character, in short, who happens to be Asian American: it’s awesome. Check Amazon for the trade paperbacks (which collect most of the issues) or your local comic book store.


The Walking Dead

After waking from a coma in an abandoned hospital, police officer Rick Grimes finds the world he knew gone – ravaged by a zombie epidemic of apocalyptic proportions. Nearby, on the outskirts of Atlanta, a small encampment struggles to survive as ‘the dead’ stalk them at every turn. Can Rick and the others hold onto their humanity as they fight to live in this terrifying new world? And, amidst dire conditions and personal rivalries, will they ultimately survive one another? –

One word for this series: Glenn. The Korean American ex-delivery guy who, let’s face it, saves everyone’s ass by knowing pretty much every secret passage and escape route in Atlanta. Also the most adorable member of that group of survivors. I have no shame in recommending this series just for him (although there are a host of other good factors. But I’ll just add in one more for the sake of convenience and time: zombies).


Digimon Adventure 01

On August 1, 1999, seven children from Japan are suddenly thrust into a strange dimension called the “Digital World” while they are at summer camp. During their adventure, children Tai, Matt, Sora, Izzy, Mimi, Joe, and T.K., discover that they are in a land where digital creatures called “Digimon” dwell. Befriending seven other Digimon, the children learn that they have the ability to help their partners digitally evolve (digivolve) into stronger, powerful forms that can combat enemies for a short amount of time. Setting off on their journey, the children start searching for a way home. – Wikipedia

Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you didn’t watch this as a kid. Rewatching it now, I spend a lot of time sighing and asking out loud for better dialogue (“Oh no! Our way has been blocked by a pile of debris!” Oh really, I couldn’t tell from that giant pile of debris in plain view) and more consistent character development. But I’ve watched Glee, so actually it wasn’t that terrible. And in terms of less offensive shit and more fun adventure times (with friendship! And courage! And lots of friendship) Digimon has Glee beat. So take some time to re-explore your childhood. (I also encourage you to watch with friends, so there’s someone else to groan to about the obvious dialogue and plot holes.)


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