>Slanted and Asian American Literary Review

>It’s a rare thing to see a niche journal or magazine start up these days, especially in the humanities and with a diasporic Asian focus.

So, how excited am I to have flicked on the computer and checked my snail-mail this morning to see TWO such projects?

SO EXCITED.

So excited, in fact, that I’m breaking my sekrit ‘no blogging until X number of chores are done’ rule to rush this to the interwebs.

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First up: A swish new Asian Australian magazine, Slanted (thanks to Asians Down Under for the heads-up). It’s an e-mag put together by an enthusiastic and savvy bunch of Sydney-based AAs, and features a range of articles put up under topic categories such as ‘Pop Culture’, ‘News and Politics’, ‘Food’ (of course!), ‘Geek’ (again, of course?). The site is easy to navigate, full of clear and striking graphics. They’ve done a great job with the style of the writing, too, treading that tricky line between research and accessibility. I’ve only had a chance to gorge on a few items today, and these are the kinds of titles that turned my crank:

Really looking forward to reading more from Slanted; I’m about to spruik the heck out of it in various forums.

It’s wonderful to see another AA e-mag on the scene, one that complements the more literary bent of Peril: An Asian Australian Arts + Culture magazine.

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Second up: In my snail-mailbox was the first issue of the brand new journal, The Asian American Literary Review. Grateful shout-out to Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis, one of the editors-in-chief, for sending out a copy for me. I have to say that there’s nothing more brave (or masochistic) than starting up a new literary journal, so the team behind AALR already have my sympathies and admiration! The hardcopy journal is a very smart, quality publication; the AALR website is lovely and stark, with savvy and content-rich features that encourage revisitation (i.e. the “Writer’s Word” and “Dear John” sections).

The inaugural issue opens with a forum addressing the issue of Asian American literary journal burn-out, with responses by David Mura, Ru Freeman and Alexander Chee. There are large sections for poetry (inc. work by Cathy Song, April Naoko Heck and David Woo) and prose (inc. authors Gary Pak and Hasanthika Sirasena), and an interview with Karen Tei Yamashita (by Kandice Chuh).

The journal also includes a book review section. I’ll indulge in one parochial note here: Nam Le‘s The Boat is reviewed positively in AALR by Jennifer Ann Ho, who writes:

The first and last stories alone make The Boat a collection that should not be missed and mark Nam Le as a writer of remarkable talent who understands the varied and variegated ways in which we all grieve for the many losses in our lives.

It was nice to see the connection with an Australian author (if we can still claim him…!) in this very promising and considered journal.

This is by no means an academic review of the journal. I’ve only just picked it up this morning, but had to have a look. Very much anticipating dipping in and out of the writing as the mood takes me.

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Quite a few projects start out with shiny zest and optimism, only to fold when the realities of the (lack of) funding grind and perpetual hunt for content wears them down. I hope that this is not the fate of the two I’ve featured today; both endeavours appear to have good funding and intellectual networks supporting them. As with all these initiatives, they need to build a loyal following, one that’ll actively show support and enthusiasm through submissions, donations and helping with building their profile/income.

Go forth and give them much love + attention!

Particularly for AALR, if you’re a literary scholar, get your university library onto subscribing to it. I’ll be dropping my library a note very soon.

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