There's a Book for That: AANHPI Heritage Month
This May celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month! In honor of the occasion, we are featuring the following fascinating books – in memoir, history, cooking, fiction, and young people’s literature – which recognizes the history, achievements and experiences of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders:
From the winner of the M.F.K. Fisher Book Prize and a New York Public Library Cullman fellow comes a sweeping narrative history of the Chinese Exclusion Act through an intimate portrayal of one family’s epic journey to lay down roots in America.
CRYING IN H MART: A MEMOIR by Michelle Zauner
From the indie rock sensation known as Japanese Breakfast, Crying in H Mart is an unforgettable memoir about family, food, grief, love, and growing up Korean American. Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.
“In losing her mother and cooking to bring her back to life, Zauner became herself.” —NPR
ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES by Catherine Ceniza Choy
Original and expansive, Asian American Histories of the United States is a nearly 200-year history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the US. Reckoning with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge in anti-Asian hate and violence, award-winning historian Catherine Ceniza Choy presents an urgent social history of the fastest growing group of Americans. The book features the lived experiences and diverse voices of immigrants, refugees, US-born Asian Americans, multiracial Americans, and workers from industries spanning agriculture to healthcare.
THE WOMAN WARRIOR: MEMOIRS OF A GIRLHOOD AMONG GHOSTS by Maxine Hong Kingston
As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.
MADE IN CHINA: A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND LABOR by Anna Qu
A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant’s journey to an American future. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi’an to New York, Made in China is a fierce memoir unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.
OH MY MOTHER!: A MEMOIR IN NINE ADVENTURES by Connie Wang
A dazzling mother-daughter adventure around the world in pursuit of self-discovery, a family reckoning, and Asian American defiance. There are hijinks, capers, and adventures. There is also tenderness, growth, and discovery. In telling these stories about the places they’ve gone and the things they’ve done, Wang reveals another story: the true story of two women who finally learned that once we are comfortable with the feeling of not belonging—once we can reject the need to belong to any place, community, census, designation, or nation—we can experience something almost like freedom.
STAY TRUE: A MEMOIR by Hua Hsu
A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu, Stay True is a coming-of-age story that details both the ordinary and extraordinary.
THE SWIMMERS: A NOVEL by Julie Otsuka
From the best-selling, award-winning author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine comes a novel that “starts as a catalogue of spoken and unspoken rules for swimmers at an aquatic center but unfolds into a powerful story of a mother’s dementia and her daughter’s love” (The Washington Post).
INTERIOR CHINATOWN by Charles Yu
Winner of the National Book Award
Interior Chinatown is a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play: “one of the funniest books of the year…. A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire” (The Washington Post).
KOREAN AMERICAN: FOOD THAT TASTES LIKE HOME by Eric Kim
New York Times staff writer Eric Kim’s cookbook is an homage to what it means to be Korean American with delectable recipes that explore how new culinary traditions can be forged to honor both your past and your present. “This is such an important book. I savored every word and want to cook every recipe!”—Nigella Lawson
THE WOKS OF LIFE: RECIPES TO KNOW AND LOVE FROM A CHINESE AMERICAN FAMILY: A COOKBOOK by Bill Leung, Kaitlin Leung, Judy Leung, Sarah Leung
The family behind the acclaimed blog The Woks of Life shares 100 of their favorite home-cooked and restaurant-style Chinese recipes. Whether you’re new to Chinese cooking or you already dabble in bean paste and chili oil, you’ll find inspiration from this chorus of voices, and trustworthy recipes that will become a part of your family story, too.
COOK REAL HAWAI’I: A COOKBOOK by Sheldon Simeon, Garrett Snyder
The story of Hawaiian cooking, by a two-time Top Chef finalist and Fan Favorite, through 100 recipes that embody the beautiful cross-cultural exchange of the islands. Through stunning photography, poignant stories, and dishes like wok-fried poke, pork dumplings made with biscuit dough, crispy cauliflower katsu, and charred huli-huli chicken slicked with a sweet-savory butter glaze, Cook Real Hawai‘i will bring a true taste of the cookouts, homes, and iconic mom and pop shops of Hawai‘i into your kitchen.
In this stunning exploration of identity through food, the blogger behind Little Fat Boy presents 80 recipes that defined his childhood as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in the Midwest.
FOR YOUNGER READERS:
YES WE WILL: ASIAN AMERICANS WHO SHAPED THIS COUNTRY by Kelly Yang
From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Díaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields.
LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB by Malinda Lo
Winner of the National Book Award
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
KAPAEMAHU by Hinaleimoana by Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, Daniel Sousa
An Indigenous legend about how four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, or mahu, brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii, based on the Academy Award–contending short film.
AMAZING ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS WHO INSPIRE US ALL by Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, Dane Liu, Aaliya Jaleel
From Olympic ice dancing medalists Alex and Maia Shibutani, this beautifully illustrated picture book highlights the achievements of many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made invaluable contributions to the world.
For more on these and related titles visit the collection AANHPI Heritage Month
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