Apr 13, 2024

Voices of the Old and the New: Corky Lee and Julia Alvarez



Corky Lee's Asian America

Fifty Years of Photographic Justice

Publication April 9, 2024; Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press, NG

Photos celebrating the history and cultural impact of the Asian American social justice movement, from a beloved photographer who sought to change the world, one photograph at a time.

Corky Lee
American activist, community organizer, photographer, journalist, and the self-proclaimed unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate. He called himself an "ABC from NYC ... wielding a camera to slay injustices against APAs." Wikipedia

I heard a lot about Corky Lee and his photographs showing Asian American activism in the U.S.

Introduction to the book

John J. Lee, Chee Wang Ng & Mae Ngai

This is the story of a man who endeavored to change the world, one photograph at a time. Who dared to create a record of an upheaval—of thoughts and beliefs that held a people down, of an ignorant nation that prevented the growth of ideas new and better. The truth and a bit of justice. This is the story of our brother and friend, whom the world came to know as Corky Lee.

With each photograph he took, Corky aimed to break the stereotype of Asian Americans as docile, passive, and above all, foreign to the United States. He insisted that Asian Americans are Americans, that they were, and are, part of this country, of its history and the ongoing project of its making. As he wrote after 9/11, “Do not let anyone tell you to go back to the country of your ancestors. You belong here. Immigrants built America. It was created for you and me.”

Published April 2, 2024; Algonquin Press, NG
Genre: magical realism, historical fiction

The Cemetery of Untold Stories asks: Whose stories get to be told, and whose buried?  Julia Alvarez reminds us that the stories of our lives are never truly finished, even at the end.

The plot: Alma Cruz, the writer in The Cemetery of Untold Stories, inherits a plot of land in the Dominican Republic, her homeland; she creates a graveyard for the manuscript drafts and revisions and the characters whose lives she tried and failed to bring to life and who still haunt her. 
Among them: Bienvenida, the abandoned second wife of dictator Rafael Trujillo, consigned to oblivion by history, and Manuel Cruz, a doctor who fought in the Dominican underground and escaped to the United States.
Alma wants her characters to rest in peace. But they have other ideas, and the cemetery becomes a mysterious sanctuary for their true narratives. 
The characters defy their author: they talk back to her and talk to one another behind her back, rewriting and revising themselves.


left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. Her books and poetry have garnered wide recognition. In the Time of the Butterflies was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.

What are you reading/watching this week? Are any of them new releases? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday


  1. The Cemetery of Untold Stories sounds fascinating. What a clever idea...now I know I'll have to find a copy of that one.

  2. Started 'Play the Red Queen' by Juris Jurjevics today. Next up will be 'Red Devils - The Trailblazers of the Paras in World War Two' by Mark Urban. Looking forward to watching 'Fallout' on Amazon Prime, but before I do that I want to finish watching 'Reacher' series 2.

    1. Have you played the Fallout games? I started #...4, I think, but didn't get very far.

  3. I’m curious about Alvarez’s book and hope that you enjoy them both.

  4. I’m not sure why your blog won’t let me sign in using Chrome. The above anonymous comment is from me though! Jodie @ That Happy Reader.

  5. I am going to have to find the Cemetery of Lost Books. It sounds really good.

  6. The Cemetery of Lost Books sounds very intriguing!

  7. The Cemetery of Untold Stories sounds really good and I love the cover!

  8. After listening to Julia Alvarez on a podcast recently, I added The Cemetery of Lost Books to my list!

  9. I heard Julia Alvarez speak in Houston a few years back, and I greatly enjoyed her book, Afterlife. The Cemetery of Lost Books sounds promising, too.

    “Do not let anyone tell you to go back to the country of your ancestors. You belong here. Immigrants built America. It was created for you and me.” Excellent. I need to share this.

  10. Both of these sound amazing. I had never heard of Corky Lee. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful week.


  11. Both books look intriguing. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  12. The book of untold stories sounds like one I would really appreciate. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Have I read anything by Alvarez? If not, I should have. Time to change that.

  13. I love the riposte when some mouth-breathing loser tells an American-Asian to 'go back to their own country'! Especially as I now have a son who has recently acquired a green card and is making the States his home. Have a great week.

  14. The Cemetery of Untold Stories sounds fascinating and wonderful. I haven't read anything by Alvarez but I need to try that one.

  15. I'm hoping to do a "Around the World in 8 Days" using books from different parts of the world. I've never run across a novel set in the DR, so I'll have to take a look at that!


I appreciate your comments and thoughts...

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