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Reads for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021


Reads for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which celebrates the inspirational lives and considerable contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  Join in the celebration by reading a few of the many writings by and about Asian and Pacific Americans and their heritage and cultures.

The list includes recently published novels, non-fiction memoirs and essay collections that touch on the themes of Asian American identity, immigration and what it means to belong, as well as stories that explore familial bonds and romantic love.  All are available to borrow in book or ebook format with your Livingston  library card.

The Bad Muslim Discount : A Novel by Syed Masood

Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 90s through to San Francisco in 2016, a comic novel about being Muslim immigrants in modern America.

Bestiary : A Novel by Kristin Chang

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

With humor and heart, Zauner tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence (; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her. 

The God Equation The Quest for a Theory of Everything by Michio Kaku

Kaku, renowned theoretical physicist tells the story of the greatest quest in all of science.

Gold Diggers: A Novel by Sanjena Sathian

An Indian-American serio-comic and magical realist epic love story about the perils of ambition, tracing the mysterious alchemy of its characters’ transformation from high school in an Atlanta suburb through young adulthood in the Bay Area.

If I Had Your Face : A Novel by Frances Cha

A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania.

Heart of Fire : An Immigrant Daughter’s Story by  Mazie K. Hirono

Mazie Hirono is one of the most fiercely outspoken Democrats in Congress, but her journey to the U.S. Senate was far from likely. This intimate and inspiring memoir traces her remarkable life from her upbringing in Hawaii, where the family first lived in a single room in a Honolulu boarding house while her mother worked two jobs to keep them afloat; to her emergence as a highly effective legislator whose determination to help the most vulnerable was grounded in her own experiences of economic insecurity, lack of healthcare access, and family separation. Finally, it chronicles her evolution from dogged yet soft-spoken public servant into the fiery critic and advocate we know her as today. 

Minor Feelings : An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

A fearless and provocative blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and history that exposes fresh truths about racialized consciousness in a poet, essayist and daughter of Korean immigrants.

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee

A brilliant, exuberant and entertaining story of a young American whose life is transformed when a Chinese-American businessman suddenly takes him under his wing on a global adventure. 

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli

Serena Singh is tired of everyone telling her what she should want–and she is ready to prove to her mother, her sister, and the aunties in her community that a woman does not need domestic bliss to have a happy life.

Sex and Vanity : A Novel by Kevin Kwan

A glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two men–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with and two very different cultures.

Speak, Okinawa : A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina

A searing, deeply candid memoir about a young woman’s journey to understanding her complicated parents–her father a Vietnam veteran, her mother an Okinawan war bride–and her own, fraught cultural heritage. 

Tell Me Who You Are : Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, & Identity by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi

The authors recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. Spurred by the realization that they had nearly completed high school without hearing any substantive discussion about racism in school, the two young women deferred college admission for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country every day–and often in unexpected ways. Featuring interviews with over 150 Americans accompanied by their photographs, this intimate toolkit also offers a deep examination of the seeds of racism and strategies for effecting change.

What We Carry : A Memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang

In this deeply moving memoir that manages to be both emotionally engaging and thought-provoking, novelist Lang uses the story of her relationship with her mother as a strong foundation while she explores the nuances of women’s choices, the complex emotional demands of caregiving for a parent, the turbulence of early parenthood, and the nature of creativity. Short chapters and a nonlinear narrative enhance the thematic preoccupations and serve well to deliver the layered story of Lang’s evolution from an uncertain daughter of Indian immigrant parents to a self-assured writer and mother.

Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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