Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Recommendations

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, our librarians are talking about their favorite books & other media by and about Asian Pacific Americans.  Visit our display at Robbins for even more materials you can check out!


Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn really stuck with me, it’s a novel set in mid-century Philippines. Here’s the review my 2007 self posted to Goodreads: “Do you know the feeling you get when your drugs run out and you’re not in love with that German director john you’ve been sleeping with and your pimp of an uncle is screwing you over again and your whole country is corrupt and your Lana Turnerish mom is breathing down your neck to start acting like a proper young lady already? Well, you will after you read Dogeaters. It’s a crazy fast paced dissection of Manila society circa 1950s/60s, and it rocks.”


Books:
Monstress Series – Marjorie Liu
Severance – Ling Ma
American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang

Music:
Malibu – Anderson Paak
Ventura – Anderson Paak
Oxnard – Anderson Paak
Be The Cowboy – Mitski
Bury me at Makeout Creek – Mitski


Music:
A cousin recently introduced me to a song that has become a sort of mantle taken up by the ace/aro subgroup of LGBTQIA+. It’s by Will Jay and titled “Never Been in Love”. There are so many reasons I love this song and have come to adore this artist. The video alone is worth the watch. 11/10 would recommend. His song “Leading Man” is also a strong candidate for favorite.

YA Authors:
Renee Ahdieh – The Wrath & the Dawn
Aditi Khorana – Library of Fates
F. C. Lee – The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
MG Authors:
Roshani Chokshi – Aru Shah series
Thanhha Lai – Inside Out & Back Again and Listen, Slowly
Sayantani DasGupta – Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series

Movies:
White Frog – I happened across this film on Netflix a while back and really enjoyed it. It’s softly nuanced but still hit home for me. Grief is a strange and complex thing. I appreciated that it wasn’t extreme in one way or another.

Podcasts:
Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services – Kalila is of Cuban/Indian descent. I did not see the twist at the end of season one coming but I love what it tries to tackle and represent.
Saffron and Peri – Quick, whimsical episodes of the shenanigans experienced via a magical help hotline.


The first one that leaps to mind is the middle grade novel Front Desk by Kelly Yang, in which ten-year-old Mia Tang helps her parents manage a hotel. The family moved from China two years ago and is just barely making ends meet; they’re determined to succeed managing the hotel, but the owner takes advantage of them unfairly. Mia learns from a classmate, Lupe, and the “weeklies” – people who live at the hotel – about what the American Dream looks like up close, and the role that privilege plays. Yet despite the obstacles and the unfairness present in her family’s life, she remains persistent, clever, and kind.
I also loved Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, which tells the story of a girl’s journey from Vietnam to Alabama in 1975 in poems; I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator, Doan Ly, did a beautiful job. Ha encounters racism, ignorance, and bullying, but also kindness and support as she learns about her new home. Thanhha Lai also wrote Listen, Slowly, about a Vietnamese-American girl called Mai who is thoroughly Californian and looking forward to spending her summer at the beach – but her parents send her to Vietnam with her grandmother instead.
The picture book A Different Pond by Bao Phi also illustrates the immigrant experience, from the point of view of a young boy in a large Vietnamese-American family. He wakes up early to go fishing with his father one morning – not for pleasure, but to ensure they will have enough to eat. On their fishing trip, his father tells him about their family’s history. Beautifully illustrated by Thi Bui, this is a quiet, contemplative read.

One of my favorites is A Little Life by Hanya Yannagihara. This book has a lot of traumatic physical and sexual abuse in it so it’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful story about friendship and found families.

Alisha Rai has a series called Forbidden Hearts, which is a trilogy beginning with Hate To Want You. It’s a romance between a couple who dated in high school until a tragedy involving both their families forced them apart. It’s pretty dark and angsty but so very well crafted.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was a fantastic story about a complicated cross-cultural adoption and has been quite popular since it came out.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is another popular one, a contemporary romance starring a young woman on the autism spectrum.


Books:

Movies & TV:

Music:

Podcast:


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