Before working at Fountain, Akil had spent time working with books from nearly every angle but selling - he's taught literature, worked in a publishing house, and, of course, has been reading and buying books as long as he can remember! Akil's new to Richmond, after having lived many places, including Raleigh (NC), Champaign (IL), Chennai (India), and Charleston (WV) - and absolutely loves it! As a graduate student of English literature, his academic interest is in Asian American literature (please ask him about it!), but as a reader, he also loves memoirs, graphic novels, magical realism, and speculative fiction, among many other genres. When not reading and writing, Akil's usually playing games (board or video), finding new things to cook, or exploring his new home city.



Updated 7/9/2021


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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250182555
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - July 10th, 2018

I haven't read anything quite like this book, and I would like to see more like it! Khong's got an eclectic sensibility to her writing, and that results in her peppering tangentially- or sometimes not-at-all-related bits of trivia throughout, which, as a lover of random trivia, I was a big fan of. The protagonist, Ruth, is coming home at her absolute nadir: she's 30, recently without a job, her fiance just ended their relationship, and now she's seeing her father for the first time after he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. What's supposed to be a 5-day visit for the holidays gradually elongates over an entire year as she realizes how little she has to go back to, but also about the meaning she can still find in her home community, from the care she reciprocates with her parents, and the world she left behind. For a book that deals with the deterioration of a parent, it's surprisingly, but not overly optimistic, and the details about how the family takes care of Ruth's dad are heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I loved reading this - think Otessa Moshfegh with a bit more sunshine.

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Light From Uncommon Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250789068
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - September 28th, 2021

I loved this so much! Katrina Nguyen is a young trans girl who runs away from unaccepting parents with nothing but her violin, and Shizuka Satomi is a violinist who's made a deal with the devil that requires she sacrifice the souls of her students in exchange for her own immortality. When they meet, they challenge and support each other in novel and ever-changing ways, and it's just engrossing to experience. There are also lesbian aliens. Aoki's a gifted writer and bars no holds about Katrina's life as an Asian trans person whose family doesn't accept her and who only sometimes passes in public, which I think is poignant and necessary reading. Even still, she spins an ultimately joyful, exhilirating tale that I couldn't put down.

Whereabouts: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593318317
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 27th, 2021

Jhumpa Lahiri is probably my favorite living author of fiction and somebody who had a formative effect on me as a maturing reader - reading Interpreter of Maladies as a freshman in college changed my life! Whereabouts is Lahiri's first work of fiction since she moved to Italy and began writing in Italian as her primary language (the book was first published as Dove Mi Trovo, or "Where I find Myself"), and isn't quite like anything she's written before - in a good way! In a series of connected vignettes - mostly about nothing in particular - that take place over the course of a year, Lahiri's unnamed protagonist wanders her home city contemplating her solitary life and those of the nearly-always-connected people around her, acquaintances and strangers alike. Lahiri's prose is arresting in its sparseness; not a single word feels superfluous or unnecessary as the protagonist progresses through emotional highs and lows, contemplates her past and alternate lives she could have lived, and finally arrives at a somewhat surprising, yet completely earned conclusion. Highly recommend this book for fans of Otessa Moshfegh and Lahiri's previous work!

Bubble Cover Image
By Jordan Morris, Sarah Morgan, Tony Cliff (Illustrator), Natalie Riess (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9781250245564
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - July 13th, 2021

Oh my goodness, I've been waiting for something like this and I didn't even know it. I'm not familiar with the podcast on which this graphic novel is based, but based on how much I loved it, maybe I should start listening! The authors playfully skewer some aspects of millennial culture (including one of my favorite things I've seen in print recently, the phrase "a little cultsch appropes,"), but their real bite is reserved for the gig-ification of modern industries and commercialized "grind," and every critique is on point - and that's even before we get to the delightful worldbuilding and the ever-present fun that is monster hunting. If you like your fantasy with a little whimsy and timely, laugh-out-loud humor, this is absolutely for you!

The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620976753
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - September 14th, 2021

Dave Zirin pulls off a masterful piece of journalism in this book, always letting these courageous young men and women's stories, words, and calls to action take center stage without judgement or editorialism. Throughout these expertly collected testimonials, Zirin educates the reader on the intertwined histories of sports activism and US structural racism. The accounts of young athletes following the lead of Colin Kaepernick's famous national anthem protest range from harrowing and angering to heartwarming, but are always inspiring and educational. For anybody with even a passing interest in the world of sport and how it's been changing in the wake of renewed Black Lives Matter activism, this is a must-read!

The Heart Principle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451490841
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - August 31st, 2021

Helen Hoang just does romance right. I loved The Kiss Quotient, and this book, which takes place in the same universe, is just about as good. I'm a big fan of how Hoang spotlights women with ASD in her recent work, making sure to note how easily the condition gets overlooked in women because of social pressures to hide any self-serving behavior. Her characters are extremely likeable and understandable and she really understands relationship dynamics of all kinds - family drama, family without drama, self-discovery, romantic, and sibling interactions. This book's also an ode to care workers and how overworked they've been through the past almost two years, which I deeply appreciated. The romance is sexy and constantly emphasizes the importance of consent, just as in her previous work, and despite dealing with some heavy themes, the book is breezy and goes by in an instant. If you're into romance at all, or even hesitant, I don't think there's a better starting point than Hoang's work!

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984820389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - March 2nd, 2021

Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family Cover Image
By Priya Krishna, Mackenzie Kelley (By (photographer))
ISBN: 9781328482471
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 23rd, 2019

As a (Tamil) Indian American person myself, it is both a source of personal shame and a subject of perpetual parental haranguing that I haven't learned to cook Tamil/Indian food since I've lived on my own. Priya Krishna's family is from Delhi and, as the title says, the recipes in this book are Indian/American hybrids (think roti pizzas), so the cuisine isn't the same as what I grew up with, but several of the techniques map on to what I've seen my parents do. More importantly for this book, though, Krishna's a really skilled writer, and I love the way she talks about growing up in the United States with Indian immigrant parents with each recipe simultaneously a source of pride, a (re)learning opportunity, and something that sparks memories of the role our food played in our growing up. Ths book is also just a love letter from Krishna to her parents, one of whom wrote this with her - many of these hybrid recipes come from her mom's attempts to placate her daughters' want for classic American foods while not losing the flavors she'd grown up with - and the older I get, the more I appreciate that particular genre.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562047
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 1st, 2021

Ocean Vuong's poetic prose gives weight to every word in this absolutely heartbreaking novel, a young man's reflection on an abusive upbringing, a closeted childhood, and growing up in a racist United States as a poor Asian American. It's framed as a letter from the protagonist to his mother, who is illiterate in English, meaning that the letter is a communication that cannot be understood, which gives the entire thing a melancholy air. It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, so I'll just stop there and say it's a must-read, and I'm so happy Vuong is writing prose now - I eagerly await what he does next.

Sorrowland: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374266776
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD - May 4th, 2021