Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Memorial Day isn’t the only major celebration in May. For the past 40 years, Americans have also honored the history and contributions of its Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI). AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to the Asian Pacific Institute, this term “all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry, who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.” With such diverse and rich perspectives to offer, literature can be a great way to expand your knowledge of these cultures. To honor these individuals, check out these books written by AAPI authors this month — and every month.

How Much of These Hills is Gold

by C Pam Zhang
An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape, trying not just to survive but to find a home. Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future. Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and re-imagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

Monsoon Mansion

by Cinelle Barnes

Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansionis a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it. Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately 10 bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Barnes’ fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been. In this remarkable ode to survival, Barnes creates something magical out of her truth — underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family — and what it takes to grow up.

I Was Their American Dream

by Malaka Gharib

I Was Their American Dream is at once a coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Gharib navigated her childhood chasing her parents’ ideals, learning to code-switch between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid. Gharib’s triumphant graphic memoir brings to life her teenage antics and illuminates earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised. Malaka’s story is a heartfelt tribute to the American immigrants who have invested their future in the promise of the American dream.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

by Kawai Strong Washburn
In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends. Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods, a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy. When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawaii with tragic consequences, they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

Mimi Lee Gets A Clue

by Jennifer Chow

Mimi Lee is in over her head. There’s her new Los Angeles pet grooming shop to run, her matchmaking mother to thwart, her talking cat Marshmallow to tend to — oh, and the murder of a local breeder to solve … now if only Mimi hadn’t landed herself on top of the suspect list. Mimi Lee hoped to give Los Angeles animal lovers something to talk about with her pet grooming shop, Hollywoof. She never imagined that the first cat she said hello to would talk back or be quite so, well, catty — especially about those disastrous dates Mimi’s mother keeps setting up. When Marshmallow exposes local breeder Russ Nolan for mistreating Chihuahuas, Mimi steals some of her cat’s attitude to tell Russ off. The next day the police show up at Hollywoof. Russ has been found dead, and Mimi’s shouting match with him has secured her top billing as the main suspect. Hoping to clear her name and save the pups Russ left behind, Mimi enlists help from her dreamy lawyer neighbor Josh. But even with Josh on board, it’ll take Mimi and Marshmallow a lot of sleuthing and more than a little sass to get back to the pet-grooming life —and off the murder scene.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

by Sonali Dev
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 … It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep. Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules: Never trust an outsider Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations And never, ever, defy your family Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes. Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life. As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with. A family trying to build home in a new land. A man who has never felt at home anywhere. And a choice to be made between the two.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

edited by Ellen Oh

Sixteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman — who both contributed stories to this edition, as well — the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Little Fires Everywhere tells the story of Elena Richardson, a woman who thrives on structure and rules, and her family. When Mia Warren, an artist who has been living a nomadic lifestyle as a single mother with her daughter, Pearl, arrives in town, it threatens everything that Mrs. Richardson has known. Slowly, Mia becomes the enemy of Mrs. Richardson. Meanwhile, in another part of town, close friends of the Richardsons have adopted a Chinese-American baby, which results in a custody battle. When a fire breaks out in the Richardson home, the town is buzzing with their ideas on who the suspect is.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

by Ocean Vuong
A portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class and masculinity.

Interior Chinatown

by Charles Yu

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy — the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration — Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.

Children's Books by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Authors

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee
Amina
Ojiichan

Young Adult Books by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Authors

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
To All the Boys I
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
I
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

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Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 13, 2021

Memorial Day isn’t the only major celebration in May. For the past 40 years, Americans have also honored the history and contributions of its Asian Americans and Pacific Islander.

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