May is Asian American and Pacific islander heritage month and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. If you’re a bibliophile you might want to check out some books by the AAPI community. These are a few tried and tested ones that I personally have come to love and keep in my shelf for re-reading and the final 3 are books I myself am planning to read this month.
Crying in H mart by Michelle Zauner
Some may know the author as guitarist and singer of the band japanese breakfast, as they just played a set on Coachella and are currently touring the states.
Crying in H mart came out a year ago and has topped bestseller lists all over the world. A deeply touching memoir of the author losing her mother but finding comfort in the rituals of the korean food she grew up with and the food keeping her connected to the culture she loses touch with when her mother passes. A beautiful and heartbreaking read for any third culture kid.
In the country by Mia Alvar
In the country is the debut novel by Mia Alvar – a filipino american author based in New York. She won a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for this book. (And I personally highly anticipate anything she will release next cause this is one of my favorite books EVER!”
This short story collection is set in the Philippines and though nine stories we get different insights of filipinos going abroad, returning home, uprooting and floating through life. The stories set in different times and places, it tells the story of a people and it does so brilliantly and beautifully! A must read!
Crazy rich asians by Kevin Kwan
You probably already know this one or you’ve seen the movie. What you maybe don’t know is that Kevin Kwan knows the environment he writes about intimately. Coming from old money, he’s had a front row seat to the privelged and wealthy and his books are deliciously satirical (or are they?).
Crazy rich asians is the first book in a trilogy and it’s already a classic! If you haven’t read it yet, then what are you waiting for? And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’re one of very few people! I personally have seen it at least 20 times!
Build your house around my body by Violet Kupersmith
Violet Kupersmith’s first full length novel was so spectacular and well written that I immediately tracked down her short story collection and ordered it. (It was out of print and not available at ANY of my local stores, so I had to order it from Amazon UK!)
The story intertwines two disappearances, one of a vietnamese woman in the 80’s and an american-vietnamese woman on an extended stay 25 years later. Part mythical and mystical it pulls you around in circles, jumping back and forth in time between all kinds of characters until it gives you that deathly bite. It’s a journey you won’t forget!
Brown girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades
Daphne Palasi Andreades is a Filipina living in New York and she’s won several prizes for her passionate writing.
Brown girls is an anthem, a book in prose that all brown girls the color of 7-Eleven root beer, the color of sand at Rockaway Beach, the color of peanutbutter. As a brown girl you will connect with this text, that I am sure of! I grew up in Norway, and it tugged on my old memories even if I grew up in a different community entirely. I also don’t love reading in prose, but this did not bother me the way it usually does.
Tokyo Ever after by Emiko Jean
Emiko Jean lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes amazing YA novels about her Japanese heritage.
Tokyo ever after is the first book in her trilogy about Izumi Tanaka born Japanese American and has never felt like she fits in. One day she find’s out her unkown father is the crown prince of Japan! That makes her the princess. A fun and funny book that also deals with topics that all third culture kids deal with. One of the better YA books if you ask me! I loved it! Can’t wait for the next two books!
Patron saints of nothing by Randy Ribay
Randy Ribay is a filipino-american author of ya and was a finalist for the 2019 national book awards for YA literature for Patron saints of nothing. And for good reason!
The book follows Jay Reguero the summer before he starts college as he visits his family in the Philippines to find out the truth about his cousins murder. He lands in the middle of Dutere’s war on drugs and deals with greif, loss, culture difference, and learns a lot about himself and his heritage along the way. This book had me so in my feels and it was exciting along the way! Highly recommend!
Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng
You may know Celeste Ng from her bestselling novel “Little fires everywhere”, it was a huge success and was made into a very popular series starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. But before that there was Everything I never told you.
It is the story of a chinese-american family living in a small town in Ohio in the 70’s and one of their daughters is found dead and we follow as the family tries hard to not fall apart at the seams. One of the most moving stories I have ever read and needs to be felt, not just read.
If I had your face by Frances Cha
This is the debut novel of American -korean Frances Cha. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Seoul as her book does.
If I had your face is about four young women living in one apartment building trying to make their way in contemporary seoul that is driven by beauty standards and k-pop. This is on my personal TBR this month, sounds a little like sex and the city in Seoul. Can’t wait.
Parachutes by Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang is an award winnign writer who is no stranger to the NYT bestseller list! She writes YA with a third culture narrator, mostly set in the US.
Parachutes is about teenagers dropped off to study in America by their wealthy parents who then return to asia. What sounds like part gossip girl, part crazy rich asians, it’s a ride I am so ready for! Picked this one up on a sale and I’m ready to read!
Minor feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Cathy Park Hong landed on the NYT bestseller list with her creative nonfiction book Minor feelings. I’ve been seeing this one floating around and I wanted to take a closer look.
Blending memoir, cultural criticism and history through essays she explores racial counsiousness in America today. I just ordered it and I have no doubt it is going to be a powerful and important read for me.
Have you read any of these? Did you find anything you wanted to read this month? Or do you have a burning recommendation you want to share? I am definitely open to suggestions on more AAPI books!