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April 19, 2022

Asian American Pacific Islander Book Recommendations


May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month.

To celebrate these beautiful cultures, to honor the AAPI community who has seen increased violence, and in order to encourage others to read more books by AAPI authors and/or with AAPI characters, I have created a short list of book recommendations for you. There's romance, memoirs, graphic novels, young adult, and more here. This is not an exhaustive list but rather a starting point.

Enjoy!


Asian American Pacific Islander Book Recommendations


*** MEMOIRS ***


Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina

Representation: Japanese-American

Short Description: Elizabeth's mother was working as a nightclub hostess on U.S.-occupied Okinawa when she met the American soldier who would become her husband. The language barrier and power imbalance that defined their early relationship followed them to the predominantly white, upstate New York suburb where they moved to raise their only daughter. 

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

Representation: Pilipino-American

Short Description: In these nine globe-trotting tales, Mia Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan

Representation: Pilipino-American

Short Description: Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a sun child from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. 

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans by Nailah Folami Imoja

Representation: The subtitle says it all.

Short Description: The 17 selections of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in this vibrant collection unite the voices of islanders from around the globe, complete with an excellent introduction by Marlon James...Readers encounter the language, customs, and flora and fauna of many island nations in this delightful and enlightening volume, an invitation to share and experience islands around the globe.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** LITERARY ***


House of Many Gods by Kiana Davenport

Representation: Hawaiian-American

Short Description: Told in spellbinding and mythic prose, House of Many Gods is a deeply complex and provocative love story set against the background of Hawaii and Russia. Interwoven throughout with the indelible portrait of a native Hawaiian family struggling against poverty, drug wars, and the increasing military occupation of their sacred lands.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** POETRY ***


Tofu Quilt by Ching Russell

Representation: Chinese-American

Short Description: A collection of poems telling the story of Yeung Ying, a young girl in Hong Kong in the 1960s who, against the conventions of society and family members, aspires to become a writer.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** ROMANCE ***


Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Representation: Iranian-American

Short Description: In Alisha Rai's second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world's spotlight--and into the arms of the bodyguard she's been pining for...

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Representation: Indian-American

Short Description: Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco...

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev 

RepresentationIndian-American

Short Description: From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another, clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition--this time, with a twist on Persuasion.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

Representation: Indian-American

Short Description: Yash Raje, California’s first serious Indian gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world. But when a hate-fueled incident at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto 

Representation: Chinese-Indonesian American

Short Description: What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick 

Representation: Korean-American

Short Description: As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn't need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she's reminded that she doesn't look like anyone else in her family--not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat's new wife and new "real" son.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

Representation: Indian-American

Short Description: A fiercely independent engineer walks out on the man her parents have set her up with -- only to start working side-by-side with him at her job.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** YOUNG ADULT ***


Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

Representation: Chinese-Vietnamese American

Short Description: Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len--who is tall, handsome, and male--just seems more like a leader.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Representation: Vietnamese-American (Author)

Short Description: Seventeen-year-old Julie Clarke has her future all planned out--move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city; spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

Representation: Korean-American

Short Description: Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June's three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad's money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don't want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. 

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** MIDDLE GRADE ***


Front Desk (Scholastic Gold) by Kelly Yang

Representation: Chinese-American

Short Description: Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Stargazing by Jen Wang

Representation: Chinese-American

Short Description: Moon is everything Christine isn't. She's confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.

This one is also a graphic novel.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


*** GRAPHIC NOVELS ***


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Representation: Japanese-American

Short Description: In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten relocation centers, hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Representation: Chinese-American

Short Description: American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits. 

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


Displacement by Kiku Hughes

Representation: Japanese-American

Short Description: Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop


The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

Representation: Vietnamese-American

Short Description: An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

Blurb & Buy @ Bookshop



QUESTIONS: Do any of those titles look/sound interesting to you? Are you adding any to your TBR list? Have you read any of these titles?




8 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing. I did not know any of the adult authors. I loved Front Desk and the other books in that series.

Toi Thomas said...

I've read They Called Us Enemy and own Stargazing. Thanks for the recommendations.

Jeff said...

Looks like a good list. I've only head of "They Called US Enemies." You might add Khaled Hossenini, author of "The Kite Runner" who is Afghan-American.

Chrys Fey said...

The Kite Runner is a great addition. I hadn’t thought of that one or the author. Of course, there could be many books on this list. These are mainly ones I’ve read or are on my TBR list right now. It’s not an exhaustive list but a starting point, and a conversation starter. :) Any recommendations to expand the list in comments is much appreciated. Thank you!

Chrys Fey said...

You’re welcome, Toi!

Chrys Fey said...

Front Desk is on my TBR list. :)

Liz A. said...

Good list. Do you follow any AAPI bloggers?

Chrys Fey said...

Of course.