PETER HO DAVIES (HACHETTE, $37.99)
How do you steer a course when you’re culturally adrift? The challenges of becoming or being ChineseAmerican are realised through these four stories of displacement, alienation and struggling to belong. Two fact-based pieces explore the life of Anna May Wong, a film star of the early 20th century, and Vincent Chin, brutally attacked in Detroit in 1982. They’re bookended by the tale of Ah Ling in the 1860s, arriving with dreams of gold that turn to dust; and John Ling Smith, presentday product of the Chinese diaspora, in his ancestral homeland to adopt a baby girl. Each story, linked by recurring motifs, engages the reader on historical, cultural, political and personal levels. As a whole, it’s a poignant, thoughtful examination of cultural identity, which particularly resonates today.