These are the books on my bookstore’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) display this year:
In Time Is A Mother, Ocean Vuong writes beautiful and intimate poems that speaks about grief and loss, family, and living in America during these violent times.
I don’t even want to describe this book myself because the book does it so well—Portrait of a Thief is I can’t describe this book “a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.”
For all those Golden age of Hollywood lovers, Siren Queen is all about how far this Chinese American actress, Luli Wei, is willing to go to achieve success even if it means making blood or magical bargains and becoming a monster.
Elaine Hsieh Chou’s debut book—Disorientation—takes a satirical look at academia and the intricacies of racism towards Asian Americans by telling the story of a Taiwanese American PhD student Ingrid Yang who’s having problems finishing her dissertation on the late Chinese poet, Xiao-Wen Chou and spirals into different situations Ingrid has to navigate.
Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful is a reimagining of The Great Gatsby with a bit of magic through the lens of Jordan Baker, a queer Asian American protagonist.
What you get is a steamy romance featuring a Chinese-American woman who’s struggling from burnout and neurodivergent and a tattooed, motorcycle riding Vietnamese-American man, and one-night stands that become more.
Minor Feelings is full essays about the Asian American experience—specifically Cathy Park Hong’s interactions with identity, discrimination and racism, and the like that many Asian Americans face in a divided America.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is full of raw and haunting energy about a son writing to his mother who cannot read and tracing moments in his family’s history to hopefully heal deep-seated wounds.
Expect to read a riveting story in Last Night at the Telegraph Club about between two queer girls—one being Chinese-American—falling in love in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare of the 1950s.
A moving saga on a fictional take of Chinese history. Forbidden City explores the Cultural Revolution through the lens of a bold teenage girl in 1960s China who becomes Mao Zedong’s protégée and lover, navigating an important time in modern Chinese history.
Magical realism swirls in this Indian-American story called Gold Diggers about two characters—Neil Narayan who has no drive as everyone in his family except to get the girl across the street, and Anita Dayal, said girl who’s been brewing an ancient alchemical potion stolen from gold with her mother. Thus, things start to unravel.
Welcome to a world where one lapse in judgment—like checking your phone while your kids are on the playground or letting your kids walk home alone—is all it takes to send young mothers into a government reform program. Frida Liu is experiencing this heartache of being torn away from her child and has to prove that she can live up to the standards put forth for mothers.
Radiant Fugitives follows “three generations of a Muslim-Indian family confronted with a nation on the brink of change in Obama-era San Francisco and Texas with a blockbuster ending you have to read to believe.”
In his debut book, Lysley Tenorio explores the undocumented life of Excel and his mother, once a Filipina B-movie action star who now makes her living scamming men online, as they try to stay under the radar or lest they’ll be deported.
The Making of Asian America opens readers’ eyes into the complicated and rich history of Asian Americans, discussing topics such as the first Asian immigrants the racist laws they faced, and the socio and political factors that played in their history.
Jade City is the Asian-inspired Godfather with blood feuds, magic, and kungfu that you’ve been looking for. It tells the story of the Kaul family—one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon that produces magical jade—and their rivals for the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang
Set during the American gold rush, two siblings in How Much of These Hills Is Gold with no family to turn to struggle to survive in a world where it’s full of culture, family secrets, racism, and tribulations. It’s a peek into an important part of Asian American history.
The Loneliest American by Jay Caspian Kang
Jay Caspian Kang talks about his own experiences being Asian American as well as his family history, and how it defines them in Asian America in The Loneliest Americans.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
How does one make a life worth living when you’re facing death? Asked Paul Kalanithi who was faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s life from the time he was a medical student to having to confront his own mortality. It’s a heartfelt book that makes you ponder the world differently.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The only warning you’ll get about A Little Life is that it’s filled with sadness, devastation, and gorgeous writing. It follows four broke college classmates as they try to make a living in New York, and as decades pass, their relationships darken.
Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now by Jeff Yang, Phil You, & Philip Wang
An interesting guided tour of Asian American pop culture happenings since the ‘90s—there’s discussion about cultural icons, Facebook group for Asian American identity memes, Kpop boy group BTS, and much more.
- The display at my store—actually called Asian/Pacific Islander Voices—is year-round. I refuse to take it down. I just switch out the titles, so these are the books that are currently on the display.
- All these books are by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. I will make a separate post for authors who are not Americans, Teens, and kids.
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