Munaweera’s debut novel depicts the psychic, political and sexual spaces between Sri Lanka and Los Angeles.
Time traveling with a drink find in Chinatown
Harmoniums are all over South Asian music. But they also connect Guyana and Punjab spiritually
Community organizing can be lonely work when you’re battling ghosts from a violent past
In neighborhoods where Asian American voters lack English fluency, poll workers are the overlooked links to electoral participation.
Grammy-nominated producer The Twilite Tone on moving to New York, working with Kanye and the South Asian namesake he shares with Chaka Khan
Diwali is celebrated in various ways by South Asian peoples. The Sikh celebration adds politics to the mix.
Buddhist “mercy releases” have long set animals free in ways that may harm them. Parks and animal protection organizations are working to make it better.
Red Guard founder Alex Hing talks 1960s radicalism, sympathizing with North Korea and that infamous punch.
Queens temples break from Western architecture and remake old buildings into new spaces for divine encounters
Long before domestic workers organizer Ai-jen Poo won a “genius grant,” we spoke to her about her radical ideas on remaking women’s work
Worker-owned cooperatives gain immigrant women more than income. They give them a cure for the “tensions” that harm their physical and mental health.
Urbanist Tarry Hum’s new book on Sunset Park looks at the economic, cultural and land use shifts in the waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood.
I said I missed Asia. His elderly friend beckoned to me and showed me his smartphone–a video of a dance performance in China. Little girls singing shrilly. “If you miss it,” he beamed, “Just watch YouTube.”
My grandmother spent many long years cleaning toilets, washing bedsheets, and mopping floors doing the best she could to navigate a country knowing her then-undocumented status and her lack of language skills put her at a severe disadvantage.
I traveled to the heart of the epidemic one day in July to find out for myself what kind of peril we’re in.
They tasted like a vanilla pudding—sweet and light. I’d long wondered if these berries were safe to eat, but Chin seemed to be nibbling without worry…
I quickly learn this view has cost this business a lot. Irina remembers all the people who left after hurricane Sandy struck in the fall of 2012. “They lost so much, their homes…and then with the businesses closed, they had no work to stay for.”
A Queens couple tries to put down roots in their own community and discovers the unwritten discriminatory rules of real estate.
We journeyed over two-hundred miles to play indoor volleyball in sweat-inducing temperatures. That draining, exhausting heat is as much a part of the game as are the unique rules of 9-man volleyball.
“Our samosas are different because we use fresh vegetables and olive oil,” says Saleha Parveen…“We use long bean, cauliflower, cabbage, potato and carrot. Most restaurants just use old oil and potatoes.”
I remember the medicine wafting through the apartment–a distinct scent, a heavy, earthy, musky odor that smelled like bark, dirt and dampened roots. The minute the pot would go on, I would retreat to my room where I paced back and forth, in anticipation of a stand-off with my mother.
There are so many people who are invisible to us, and I think that its important to realize that the girl who runs the egg-cakes cart, she has dreams too, she has a future too, she has a past as well.
Finntown in the 1920s and 30s was a bit like a leftist fantasy mixed with a touch of “Portlandia”…
Parkway itself will lose its luster, its sense of magic ascendance. And I will begin my struggle to understand this twin heritage—luminous freedom and oppressive grievance.
Each of us has a moment, a shiny soap bubble of memory that contains our past and predicts our future.
The applications have been streaming in for our next round of Open City fellows. If you’re an emerging Asian American writer, consider applying and help spread the word about this wonderful opportunity…
I often tagged along with my grandparents down the aisles of Chinese supermarkets. While Grandma stuck to purchasing standard items like Saltines or milk to add to her morning coffee, Grandpa knew the secrets of the dried, preserved goods and vegetables tucked away into the stores’ dusty corners.
When poet and First Lady Chirlane McCray (aka “FLONYC”) chose spoken word artist Ramya Ramana to perform at her husband’s inauguration, it took the ceremony—and Ramya’s poetry—to a whole new level.
Alex is a skinny teenager with shaggy black hair – almost like a Beatles cut. He comes here all the time, just to play this game.
…Hispanics and Asians are living in neighborhoods together nearly three times as much as they did ten years ago. But how integrated they truly are is a matter of debate…
When I’m on the train, I draw a lot. I have absolutely no time for meditation. But when I’m painting, that’s…my meditation.”
Council District 38, which includes the heavily Asian and Latino Sunset Park, is a testing ground to see whether an experiment in direct democracy can meet its lofty goals…
No showering, no going outside, no drinking cold water–for an entire month. Many women in mainland China observe these rules as part of a traditional health care practice following childbirth.
I know that you’ve had some tough times the past few years. People have called to ban you, to oust you from the kitchen…
About a decade ago, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) began to puzzle over a strange and disturbing sight: whole, roasted ducks, hanging by their necks in the windows of Manhattan’s Chinatown.
The gate, the window guards (all seven of them), the railings leading up to the door, the door itself — all bright stainless steel, and sparkling even on this cloudy day.
“When times are good, people might go for the Absolut, when they’re bad it’s Smirnoff or Georgi,” says Anil, who runs 1-2-3 Liquors on Jamaica Avenue…
Crown Heights-based activist DJ Ushka talks about growing up in Thailand, gentrification, global bass, and Edward Said.
The drummers were dressed in black and white tunics with colorful sashes and played traditional instruments…
It’s Sunday morning and there’s a debate underway at the Richmond Hill Flea Market in Queens. At issue: a pair of bejeweled, costume earrings made of faux diamonds and rubies.
In 2012, over half a million stop and frisks took place citywide. Half of these involved persons of color—young men like Nilesh, who are constantly on the lookout for patrolling officers.
“He could’ve walked into Harlem and everybody knew ‘im. He could walk into Spanish Harlem, everybody knew him. The gangsters knew him and respected him because he stood up to them…”
…there was one piece of equipment that made it all possible: a SONY tape player that kept them in operation as if they were 24-hour newsroom. The machine would play ten cassettes one after the other.
Visitors to the address would have found an entirely different scene ten or fifteen years ago. Before it was a fashion headquarters, the building was a garment factory…
In Queens to “clash,” Japanese dancehall kings Mighty Crown talk old-school Brooklyn and dub plates
“…the union guys were really worried. They were literally pissing in their pants…15 minutes later, it seemed like 15,000 women came out of the woodwork. Literally. From the buildings in Soho. They just couldn’t believe it.”
“We had tried Thanksgiving food at work and at church…a little bland…Then we just kept doing it each year and we got better each year, we learned how to cook more things- cranberry and marshmallow, ham, biscuits, and we made other stuff too, that’s not American food.”
…incoming donations were piled up two and three boxes deep on the sidewalk.
“The typhoon really hit me hard,” she said. “I live in New York, but I’m still Filipino.”
“Once we printed Chinese upside-down and nobody knew it. That was embarrassing!”
A set of wind chimes hangs on a thin board, a short-wave radio emits bursts of Morse code, thin sheets of metal rustle on a crate.
“You really can’t get weird on a dehydrated noodle. You really can’t get weird on a canned sardine. Snacks, yeah you can get a little weird.”
We set up a table with hot cider to stave off the chill, and little by little, over the course of three hours, 20 participants came by to strut their stuff…
“We are not known to the mainstream disabled communities. We’ve been here for 20 years.”
“Manhattan gets everything. No more, no more…Our next mayor is going to be from Brooklyn no matter who wins.”
“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.”
–MFK Fisher, “How to Cook a Wolf”
As pure Tibetans, they seem to have a more direct connection to whatever their cause is…But in my case, I would be there thinking, I don’t have the genuine drive in a way. I was supporting the cause, but at the same time, I saw myself differently.
The shorter woman said, “You have such a good insang??!” The other pressed, “But you do go to church, don’t you?”
As I studied my surroundings, I found things that defied explanation. For some matters, the closer I looked, the more elusive any resolution became.
One Saturday afternoon in Sunset Park, I was sitting on the cement rim of a drained wading pool, watching elderly Chinese couples foxtrot to staticky melodies playing from a beat-up cassette player.
When working with the 12 to 19 year old set, she goes by two simple rules: 1.) Don’t disrespect them and 2.) Stand your ground.
We both remembered the fashion house’s Van Gogh jacket with its exquisite hand-embroidered jewel toned flowers, but it was Mary, who, without a heartbeat, recalled the year, telling the archivist to pull from the 1988 collection.
In the center of the plaza stands a bronze, 15-foot statue of the Chinese sage…In its shadow, a woman with a visor and clipboard is selling shuttle tickets to Foxwoods Casino.
Suran Song turned a laundromat in Jackson Heights into a space for private reflection. Now she’s inviting her neighborhood to practice yoga in her living room.
A Conversation with Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, Queens Author and Rapper
“We need a new superhero that will not depend on the tropes of past heroes,” says Anand who copyrighted Laserman in 1985 at the age of 12.
The clinking coins were saved for two reasons – to feed the neighborhood parking meters and to pay for kiddie rides outside the supermarket where my family shopped.
In the same way that K-Town serves as a rough rendition of Seoul, these plastic replicas dutifully represent their edible counterparts.
Afrika Bambaataa recently crowned Lasker the “Indian Bambaataa” for his efforts spreading hip-hop in India.
It’s like wearing a swagger on your face. If you’ve got a mustache, you’re someone to be taken seriously.
Do I get hungry? Yes, that’s the point.
Amid a national conversation about preschool and poverty, low-income New Yorkers are fighting for dignified welfare-to-work and and child care. But will they succeed?
Lynne Sachs talks about her film on immigrant experiences in Chinatown shift-bed houses.
“81 Bowery is their home and their only choice for a place to live.”
There are 42,000 cab drivers in New York City–and 82% of them are immigrants. Many from them from white collars jobs back in their home country.
Writer Katie Salisbury goes on a quest to Mission Chinese to check out the monster success of Asian hipster cuisine.
Kyla Cheung talks to Ashok Rajamani about his uniquely humor-filled memoir recovering from an aneurysm at the age of 25.
There are lists of some slave uprisings in the late 1600s. There were gallows next to Beaver Pond.
A river of dark, red fluids frothed and pooled over drains. Men in green T-shirts scrubbed the floor with brooms as wave after wave of water washed away the sacrificial blood.
Carolyn Sun explores the journey of how kimchi has found its place in America at the tables of Koreans and non-Koreans alike.
Sahar Muradi and Zohra Saed are two Afghan American poets. This is a lyrical conversation between Sahar, who returned to retrace footsteps in Afghanistan and Zohra, who remained ensconced in longing for mythic cities of her birth.
Part one of a two-part series on local Asian-American engagement in electoral politics in New York City.
The Basement Bhangra deejay revisits the neighborhood of a legendary Hollis nightclub that flourished in the 90s.
The costs of ‘hecho en China.’
From Abu Dhabi to the East Coast, a temporary resident negotiates the urban spaces that built him.
In conversation with solitude.
Sisters Deanna Fei and Jessica Fei capture the many faces of Flushing: a home, a place of transit, a new territory.
Formed in Iran—and influenced by Joy Division—the indie band had to high-tail out of the Islamic Republic for fear of reprisals. Why the band wound up in Brooklyn.
After the family saw this photo, ‘they couldn’t sleep.’
Remaining unnoticed is not a new thing for Staten Island.
I recall the monkey god’s gaze at the Ganapati Temple and my own impulsive desire to offer him a coconut.
An illustrated dispatch.
From Libya to Liberty Avenue, Hess was making a killing.
Wah-Ming Chang talks to the author about reading, writing, and Hari Kunzru’s voice.
In Jersey City’s India Square, the Hindu holiday is tempered and celebrated privately.
“My strength is writing about Chinese people and dirtbags, and Chinese dirtbags.”
“Romney is very hostile.”
Dispatch from Far Rockaway and Jamaica in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Community organizers distributed supplies and canvassed buildings for two days before FEMA showed up to offer aid.