This May, please join us in celebrating Asian Heritage Month: a recognition of the humanity, power, and ongoing struggles of Asian communities throughout the world. Book*hug is honoured to have published ground-breaking, critically-acclaimed fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by Asian authors, and for the next several weeks, we’ll be shining a light on these authors and their brilliant work. We know that our work, as allies, doesn’t end with blog posts, nor does it end at the end of May; the fight for Asian empowerment is perennial. We encourage you to support—and defer to—Asian voices, organizations, and initiatives, such as the ACLA (Asian Canadian Labour Alliance) and Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network).
Our series continues with Coconut Dreams, by Derek Mascarenhas. In his debut short story collection, Mascarenhas takes a fresh look at the world of the new immigrant and the South Asian experience in Canada. In these stories, a daughter questions her father’s love at an IKEA grand opening; an aunt remembers a safari-gone-wrong in Kenya; an uncle’s unrequited love is confronted at a Goan Association picnic; a boy tests his faith amidst a school-yard brawl; and a childhood love letter is exchanged during the building of a backyard deck. The collection weaves through various timelines and perspectives to focus on two children, Aiden and Ally Pinto, who tackle their adventures in a predominantly white suburb with innocence, intelligence and a timid foot in two distinct cultures.
“Like all proper enchantments, these vignettes are dark, light, strange, and vivid such that they delight and charm in equal portions,” writes Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of All the Broken Things. Alissa York calls the book “[a] moving, multifaceted debut.”
We also featured Coconut Dreams on our Short Story Month-themed reading list, “Ten Books to Read This Short Story Month.” We’re delighted to share it with you again.
Derek Mascarenhas is a graduate of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program, a finalist and runner-up for the Penguin Random House of Canada Student Award for Fiction, and a nominee for the Marina Nemat Award. His fiction has been published in places such as Joyland, The Dalhousie Review, Switchback, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Antigonish Review. Derek is one of four children born to parents who emigrated from Goa, India, and settled in Burlington, Ontario. A backpacker who has traveled across six continents, Derek currently resides in Toronto. Coconut Dreams is his first book.