Nightstand Reads: Seattle author Kim Fu shares recent favorites

Our guest blogger today is Kim Fu, author of the forthcoming novel The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, in which a group of young girls descend on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls—Nita, Andee, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. Fu will be appearing at Elliott Bay Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

I’ve kept a list of every book I’ve read since 2010. It’s been interesting to see patterns that align with events in my personal life: interests that crop up and fade, what and how much I read in a year of mourning versus a year of celebration. Like many people, I also discovered that what I thought of as my own capricious, wide-ranging taste was instead reflective of what books get published and hyped in a particular year, and that I needed to make a conscious effort to read more diversely. I was especially inspired by this list by R.O. Kwon, which contextualizes reading as an act of hope and connection within the political moment. To that end, here are a few recent books by women of color that I loved, the one I’m currently reading, and the one I’m excited to read next.

Recently read:
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
I love all of Erdrich’s novels, but her latest is the best book I’ve read in a long time. Set in a dystopian future, where humans and animals are devolving to earlier evolutionary states, this novel speaks perfectly to the present, capturing the underappreciated beauty of the world we know as it disappears.

Kim Fu

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
I recently recommended this book to someone, and when they asked, “What’s it about?” I responded, “I have no idea, but I was devastated by it.” On the surface, it’s about a woman who stops eating meat, but what it’s “about” is indescribably strange and complex. It’ll turn your brain and your stomach inside out; it’ll make you reconsider what fiction does and how it works.

I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On by Khadijah Queen
I’m seen this slim book categorized as stories, as memoir, and as cultural criticism. I would describe it as a smart, caustic book of poems, and required reading on a number of issues, including celebrity culture, race, sexual entitlement, and gendered power dynamics.

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
Arimah’s short stories are finely, tightly constructed, mixing fables and naturalistic realism to incredible effect. “Who Will Greet You at Home,” readable online in the New Yorker, is a prime example, full of questions and images that will haunt you long after reading.

Reading now:
Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir by Amy Tan
So far, I’m enjoying this candid exploration of Tan’s creative process, and the way she brings her signature gift for detail to her own life.

Up next:
The Boat People by Sharon Bala
Bala’s debut novel, centered on one of the nearly five hundred Sri Lankan refugees on a cargo ship that landed on Vancouver Island in 2009, is at the top of my TBR.

Kim Fu is the author of the novels The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore and For Today I Am a Boy, and the poetry collection How Festive the Ambulance. Her writing has appeared in Granta, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Hazlitt, and the Times Literary Supplement. She lives in Seattle.

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