Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Reading List for Adults
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our staff have put together some books highlighting the varied stories of this community – from best-selling fiction to a great selection of memoirs. There are many new books in this category that are getting recognition. Celebrate this month by reading books by AANHPI writers. There are too many to recommend, so we have selected those that are available now at Rose Memorial Library!
Ren Yu is a swimmer. Her daily life starts and ends with the pool. Her teammates are her only friends. Her coach, her guiding light. If she swims well enough, she will be scouted, get a scholarship, go to a good school. Her parents will love her. Her coach will be kind to her. She will have a good life. Chlorine is a debut novel that blurs the line between a literary coming-of-age narrative and a dark unsettling horror tale.
In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so heavily that she became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads. Dear Girls is a heartfelt and hilarious letter to her daughters.
The Dream Builders
Written from the perspectives of ten different characters, Oindrila Mukherjee’s incisive debut novel explores class divisions, gender roles, and stories of survival within a society that is constantly changing and becoming increasingly Americanized.
If They Come for Us
Poet and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series “Brown Girls” captures the experience of being a Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America, while exploring identity, violence, and healing. Using experimental forms and a mix of lyrical and brash language, Asghar confronts her own understanding of identity and place and belonging.
Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming
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. As the only child of a single mother in Queens, Ava Chin found her family’s origins to be shrouded in mystery. She had never met her father, and her grandparents’ stories didn’t match the history she read at school. Mott Street traces Chin’s quest to understand her Chinese American family’s story. Over decades of painstaking research, she finds not only her father but also the building that provided a refuge for them all.
A Living Remedy: A Memoir
Nicole Chung couldn’t hightail it out of her overwhelmingly white Oregon hometown fast enough. As a scholarship student at a private university on the East Coast she found community and a path to the life she’d long wanted. But middle class American life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by diabetes and kidney disease, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of lack of access to healthcare contributed to his early death. And then the unthinkable happens – her beloved mother is diagnosed with cancer and COVID-19 descends upon the world. Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, A Living Remedy examines what it takes to reconcile distance.
While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector’s Search for Freedom in America
After defecting from North Korea, Yeonmi Park found liberty and freedom in America. But she also found a chilling crackdown on self-expression and thought that reminded her of the brutal regime she risked her life to escape. When she spoke out about the mass political indoctrination she saw around her in the United States, Park faced censorship and even death threats.
Orphan Bachelors: A Memoir
Fae Myenne Ng
In pre-Communist China, Fae Myenne Ng’s father memorized a book of lies and gained entry to the United States as a stranger’s son, evading the Exclusion Act, an immigration law which he believed was meant to extinguish the Chinese American family. During the McCarthy era, he entered the Confession Program in a failed attempt to salvage his marriage only to have his citizenship revoked to resident alien. Exclusion and Confession, America’s two slamming doors. This books traces the legacy of the Exclusion Act from Chinatown in the 60s (and its legendary ‘Orphan Bachelors’ – men without wives or children) to Manhattan in the 80s, to the desert of California in the 90s, until her return home in the 2000s.
Oh My Mother!
In each essay of this hilarious, heartfelt, and pitch-perfectly honest memoir, journalist Connie Wang explores her complicated relationship to her stubborn and charismatic mother, Qing Li, through the “oh my god” moments in their travels together. From attending a Magic Mike strip show in Vegas to experimenting with edibles in Amsterdam to flip-flopping through Versailles, this iconic mother-daughter duo venture into the world to find their place in it, and sometimes rail against it–as well as against each other.