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  • Introduction

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage month, the Missouri Review is honored to present Seven Voices, another special digital collection in our ongoing collaboration with Project MUSE. This collection includes poems, stories, and essays from the following writers, each a past contributor to TMR:

  • May-lee Chai’s “Life on Mars” follows Xiao Yu, a young teenage boy sent from China to live with his uncle in America. The US is not what he expected, and his uncle isn’t the stable married man that his parents had assumed. It is the story of a young man being in a new, freer, place and despite his immigrant struggles forming a relationship and finding a place unlike anything he has experienced before.

  • Min Jin Lee’s “Motherland” is set in Japan, where protagonist Etsuko is living out the consequences of having been a less-than-ideal mother in years past. This is a moving story about both the romance of motherhood and the difficulty of being a “good” person in a society cursed by double standards, lazy stereotypes and impossible social roles—a society perhaps not so unlike ours.

  • Miho Nonaka’s elegant poems reflect on the influences of fairy tales, cross-cultural and intracultural borders, and the pull of untranslatable nature. In “Border,” nature offers the possibility that "there must be a world beyond such/a series of self-projections." Her poems show how our influences sing, shape, and free us.

  • Ha Jin's “Flame” is set in contemporary China, also a place of relative economic scarcity. While seemingly guileless, this story is a sly critique of materialism in Chinese culture and expectations conditioned by selected memories of youth. “Flame” also suggests that the hard choices life throws up to the young often don't seem like choices at all.

  • Tien-Yi Lee’s “How I Came to Love You Like a Brother” is set in New York City, where a young woman of a Chinese immigrant family tells the tale of her sister Lucia's marriage to an ambitious, older Israeli immigrant, Yonah, owner of an organic-foods store. Lee’s story is partly about how an unlikely sense of family can develop in the aftermath of tragedy or trial.

  • Tim Loc’s story “If You’re So Smart” is about a graduate student at UCLA who ends up temporarily homeless after he loses his job and his mother’s financial situation changes. Determined to keep up his studies, he lives semi-nomadically. Along the way he is challenged by stereotypes of ethnicity, class, and nationality that illuminate the dangers of transgressing the assumed boundaries of the social and cultural groups we belong to. This sharp, well-paced story was Loc’s first fiction publication.

  • • “My Father's Women” by Mako Yoshikawa narrates the attempt of Mako and her sisters to deconstruct the relationships of her famous scientist father after his death. Though her father was a brilliant MIT physicist in the mid-twentieth century, mental illness prevented him from fulfilling his promise and also from having a successful marriage, no matter how often he tried. The essay is less an elegy than an objective portrait that realistically evaluates the effects of mental illness on a life.

In our effort to invite a wide readership to discover these illuminating, urgent works, TMR and Project MUSE are making this collection free and open to the public for the remainder of May. Enjoy!


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