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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.