The Western canon has no objective nomination process, which is why it is both axiomatic and controversial. Literature written by (and often for) white writers is still treated as classic, crucial, and central to our literary archive, codifying a clear but tacit anglonormativity. But why have APIA voices been erased from the so-called “Great Books” for so long, and how should APIA writers respond to this longstanding erasure?Read More
After mom got remarried to a white architect, my twin brother and I moved to Wacker Drive to live in the future. For Yoshi and me, the honeycombed Marina Towers were a time warp to another dimension.Read More
Okay, so my debut novel, NINJAS OF MY GREATER SELF is now on sub. I'm pumped, hopeful, and also scared AF.— Jackson Bliss ジャブ (@jacksonbliss) April 13, 2017
Well fam, the day has finally come. Maggie--my agent extraordinaire--called me today and said that she'd sent out my debut novel, THE NINJAS OF MY GREATER SELF to editors after getting the green light from each of them. So, NINJAS is officially on submission now. I've literally been waiting for this day since I finished the first version of this novel back in 2012. Anyway, for the next couple months (probably longer, conceivably shorter), I'm going to chew the fuck out of my fingernails and scratch off my skin and tear out my eyebrows until I look like a cholo (or Olympic swimmer). I've read endless stories about the excruciatingly unpredictable nature of being on submission. I've had friends tell me heart-breaking stories about near misses with their favorite presses. I've seen writers dissolve into a human puddle of counterfactual daydreams and jock tears. So, I know the pain, the longing, and the exhilaration of this stage can be overwhelming, which is why I'm planning on keeping busy by lovingly nudging my gracious blurb writers, revising the shit out of my permutational memoir, Dream Pop Origami, playing video games obsessively on my PS4, working on my post-rock LP, and finally catching up on some reading with George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, my good friend, Emily Fridlund's novel, History of Wolves, and Johnny Marr's Autobiography, Set the Boy Free. Whatever happens, it feels like the future is burning bright. I've never felt more hopeful (and simultaneously, more freaked out) than I do right now.
The Sympathizer forces readers of Asian American Pacific Islander (APIA) literary fiction to reconsider our own craft dogma and ask questions about the value of literary didacticism all over again: when is didactic literature useful, even necessary, and what purposes can it serve in our society as art, historiography, and also racial, cultural, and moral education?Read More
I've been working tirelessly with Maggie on my revisions for The Ninjas of My Greater Self for a solid three months now and we are finally done with the substantive edits, which feels fucking incredible. I'm just waiting for a few blurbs from some literary superstars and then Maggie will officially begin sending out cover letters to editors. I'm exhilarated about this. I'm also mildly terrified. I mean, these next three to four months will shape my literary debut in the New York publishing world and also have a major impact on my literary career. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but it's actually true. I've been waiting my whole life for this moment. My fingers are crossed.
I got the great news yesterday that my short story "Conspiracy of Lemons," which is part of my conceptual short story collection, City of Sand, was accepted in Witness, a journal I've been sending submissions to off and on since 2010. It's incredibly satisfying to finally get a piece in that literary journal. Stay tuned!
Only in a Japanese RPG can a boy band save the world from the nefarious empire and its demonic biotechnological army. In Final Fantasy XV, four male friends led by its visual kei leader, Noctis (whose name means “night” in Latin), use the empire’s language of violence to decolonize the kingdom of darkness. Somewhere, Fanon’s ghost is drinking sake and smoking Peace cigarettes in celebration.Read More
Today I got an email telling me that my personal essay, "When Words Make You Real," was accepted in the mixed-race anthology The Beiging of America, which is awesome. I'm happy, proud even, to be part of such a groundbreaking but also crucial anthology exploring what it means to be mixed race (in my case, hapa) in America.
I found out today that my novella, The Laws of Drowning and Rhetoric, is a finalist in Curbside Splendor's Second-Annual Wild Onion Novella Contest, which is fucking amazing and wonderful (though I won't let myself get too excited because the other three finalists are all talented and worthy). For those of you not familiar with Curbside Splendor, it's one of the best indie presses in the whole goddamn world (it's true). And what's even more awesome, Curbside Splendor is a Chicago joint, which makes me happy and proud to be part of this contest since Chicago is and will always be my hometown. The winner will be announced in the beginning of December, but I'm not gonna lie, it would be fucking incredible to win this contest. It would be a dream come true. It would help build my career. It would help me stay connected to my city forever. It would be incredibly encouraging too. And considering that I've been working on this novella for ten years since I started my MFA, it would be life-changing for all the work I put into this manuscript. But for now, we'll have just have to wait and see. Fingers crossed, man. Fingers crossed.
I've been dreaming about this day since I finished my first novel. Last Monday, I googled agents looking for literary fiction writers and one agent in particular caught my eye both because she specializes in literary fiction, has worked at Viking and Molly Friedrich's agency as an associate agent, and also because she runs her own boutique agency in Brooklyn--every one of these details mattering a great deal to me for different reasons. So on a whim, I sent Maggie Riggs a query Monday night, just for the hell of it. Tuesday, she wrote back telling me she really enjoyed the five pages of The Ninjas of My Greater Self I'd included in my email (per submission guidelines) and asked for the full manuscript. Two days later, she sent me an email asking if I had any time on Friday to chat about my novel. My heart skipped a beat when I read that. I turned to LB and said:
I will not freak out about this. I will not read into this. I will not make a big deal about this. I will not make assumptions.
I vowed not to read too much into this email because I'd done that so many times before and gotten heartbroken later by agents and editors who'd asked me to call them simply to request another manuscript, or to give me a well-meaning rejection on the phone that was supposed to humanize the rejection somehow (it didn't, by the way, it just fucked me up). I vowed not to think too much about the email, and then slept like complete shit that night because of course, all I did was think about the email.
Friday morning, I woke up, anxious and slightly tense. I got dressed in something smart that made me feel stylish, urbane, cool, and legit. Aboard the train, I changed seats far away from a group of drunk "virgins" taking a cruise together from San Diego to a quieter seat. I skimmed my short story on Joyland on my iPhone that had come out that same morning (auspicious?) and then Maggie called. She told me how much she loved my novel. She told me she'd finished it in two days. She told how much she loved the voice, she told me she loved the energy (which she described as a bullet train), she told me how complex and fascinating and real my characters were. I almost broke down and cried. I'm serious. These are the words I've been waiting for from an agent for so long. I realized right there and then that I'd found the right agent for me (I just needed her to make an offer).
At the end of our hour-long conversation, she offered to represent me and told me I could have a couple weeks to think it over and contact the other agents reading NINJAS and see what their counteroffers were (which was the professional thing to say). But I already knew I wanted her to be my agent, and her Twitter feed I'd studied the night before told me she was committed to discovering talented writers of color and other minority writers, which is really important to me, so I told her point blank: Maggie, let's do this!
She sounded slightly astounded when I told her that, but sometimes you just know, man. Then she got really excited, which made me feel even better, and then I got really stoked too because the day had finally come and now, I'll be writing and publishing books with a very smart, articulate, savvy, and very talented agent. And it all happened in four days. Four motherfucking days. I thank the universe for this, but I thank Maggie most of all.
In this confusing time of professional androgyny and male disempowerment, men were wounded birds. Dual income households had emasculated them of their sacred institutions of power. Wings clipped, humbled and demoted to democratic gender roles, men had no choice now but to accept their new gun-to-the-head humanism and become motivation speakers and fitness gurus, construction muscle and Pentagon Yes-Men.Read More
Maybe, she’ll buy a one-way ticket to Seattle and throw her dirty underwear off every bridge. And maybe, she’ll buy a ticket to Montréal and then OD on Oaxaca smack in the Greyhound bathroom like the lead singer from Blind Melon.Read More
Today, I got the great news that a chapter from my novella, The Laws of Rhetoric and Drowning, was accepted by Hobart, which publishes fantastic fiction and interviews, among other things. I'm really happy to see this piece put in the public eye! Stay tuned for more deetz.
There was a flower arrangement to our entrées, a harmony of light and darkness inside the dining room, a small ceremony for the chilled chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes, crisp Arugula salads, haunting ginger slices and incinerating Thai soups, that was uniquely Japanese in spirit and decorRead More
I just got the awesome news today that my lyrical essay "Obāsan in a Cup," which is part of my experimental memoir Dream Pop Origami, was accepted in the always-awesome Guernica Magazine. Even more shocking, it will be published tomorrow. Many thanks to the smart, perceptive, and insightful suggestions from Raluca Albu, the CNF editor at Guernica. Stay tuned!
I agonize over my own workshop pedagogy now that the mic is in my hand. This agony comes partially from memory: I remember the completely avoidable trauma I experienced in my own MFA program as a hapa fiction writer whose racial and cultural legibility was confusing at best and dismissed at worst.Read More