“Go Home!” Brings Together 24 Pieces By Asian Diasporic Writers

by Erika W. Smith

The new anthology Go Home! — edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, published by Feminist Press in collaboration with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and out today — brings together writings by 24 different Asian diasporic writers.

In the editor’s note, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan introduces the Japanese word “kaerimasu,” a verb meaning “traveling homeward.” She muses, “There is something so particular about a journey made toward home. The word has a beauty and a comfort to it. But what does it mean to go home?” Next, she shares the story of a man who yelled “Go home!” at her while she was waiting in line for the New Museum. ”My idea of home is a verb,” she writes. “Home is a straining toward belonging. For me the feeling of wanting to go home is home. For others, home is a place they want to escape, a place that exists only in time, a place that exists in the breath of a parent, or the mouth of a lover.”

Though all grapple with the theme of “home,” the 24 writers contribute very different stories. In the short story “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying,” Alice Sola Kim describes three adopted Korean-American girls who use dark magic to conjure a mother figure who both loves and terrorizes them. In the nonfiction piece “Elegy,” Esmé Weijun Wang recounts how her relationship to the Taiwanese food she grew up with changed after she was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease and became allergic to gluten. In the poem “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet In The Sink Of The Bathroom At Sears,” Mohja Kahf observes her Syrian grandmother partaking in the ritual washing for prayer while white Midwesterners object: “They fluster about and flutter their hands and I can see / a clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroom.”

Buchanan writes that with the election of Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK, “xenophobic rhetoric gushes from political podiums. The ideal home they describe has locked doors — not letting anyone in or out.” Because of this, Go Home! is particularly timely now, but the quality and the variety of the writing included means that the anthology will be just as engrossing and important a read in years to come.

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