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Books for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrating the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

May 23, 2023

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! This month, we recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

The month of May was chosen for two reasons. The first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States in May of 1843. More than two decades later, again in May, the golden spike was driven into the first transcontinental railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.

President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration—originally Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week—on October 5, 1978. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush extended the celebration from a week to a month. Finally, in 2009, President Barack Obama updated the celebration’s name to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Want to learn more? Check out these websites!

 

Fiction

The Porcelain Moon by Janie Chang

The Porcelain Moon

Janie Chang

In 1918 France, in the final days of the First World War, Pauline Deng, a young Chinese woman escaping an arranged marriage, is taken in by secretive Camille Roussel and becomes bound to this woman forever when they are forced to make a terrible decision.

The Last Tale Of The Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

The Last Tale Of The Flower Bride

Roshani Chokshi

Breaking the promise he made to his beautiful wife, to never pry into her past, when they arrive at her childhood home, a crumbling manor shrouded in mystery, a scholar of myths must choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage–or their lives.

Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Independence

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

n 1947 India, three sisters, after their father, a well-respected doctor, is killed during a riot and their neighbors turn against them, find themselves separated from one another, each on different paths due to events beyond their control.

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

Liar, Dreamer, Thief

Maria Dong

A woman with OCD and carefully constructed coping mechanisms has her world crumble around her when she witnesses her unrequited crush and coworker jumping off the Cayatoga Bridge with an accusation that it’s all her fault.

The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi

The Picture Bride

Lee Geum-yi

In 1918, Willow, a young Korean picture bride, arrives in Hawaii to start a new life but her dreams are soon shattered by a husband who doesn’t want her and by the escalation of the Korean independence movements, which threaten to divide her family and friends.

Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns

Your Driver Is Waiting

Priya Guns

For the first time ever, Damani, who drives for an app, starts dating a white girl with money, but when their romance intensifies and she finally lets her guard down, her girlfriend does something unforgivable, setting off an explosive chain of events.

The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng

The Great Reclamation

Rachel Heng

With the future of their fishing village in jeopardy after the Japanese army invades Singapore, Ah Boon, gifted with the unique ability to locate bountiful, movable islands that no one else can find, and Siok Mei, the spirited girl he has come to love, must decide who they want to be.

Clark And Division by Naomi Hirahara

Clark And Division

Naomi Hirahara

Released from a Japanese internment camp in 1944, Aki Ito moves to Chicago to be with her sister, Rose, only to lose her in subway train accident on the event of their reunion and vows to learn what really happened.

Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

Natural Beauty

Ling Ling Huang

Giving up her future as a pianist to take care of her parents, the narrator starts working at a high-end beauty and wellness store in NYC, which affords her entry into a new world of privilege where she discovers, beneath the fancy creams and tinctures, lies a terrible truth threatening to consume her.

Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-jin

Concerning My Daughter

Kim Hye-jin

Refusing to accept her gay daughter’s definition of “family,” a widowed, aging mother begins to reconsider the unfair consequences of choosing one’s own path when she is told to lower her standard of care of an elderly dementia patient.

Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain

Our Best Intentions

Vibhuti Jain

Caught in the middle of a criminal investigation after finding her classmate stabbed and bleeding, Angie, an introverted teenager, must navigate conflicting narratives while her father attempts to shield her and protect his hard-earned efforts to assimilate, which overshadows his ability to see right from wrong.

Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Now You See Us

Balli Kaur Jaswal

Crazy Rich Asians meets The Help! From Reese’s Book Club veteran Balli Kaur Jaswal comes an absolute tour de force–the wildly entertaining and sharply observed story of three women who work in the homes of Singapore’s elite, and band together to solve a murder mystery involving one of their own.

Mika In Real Life by Emiko Jean

Mika In Real Life

Emiko Jean

Getting to know Penny, the daughter she placed for adoption sixteen years ago, thirty-five-year-old Mika Suzuki finds unexpected love with Penny’s widowed father and finally has a chance to have the life and family she’s always wanted until her deceptions catch up with her.

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen

Lunar Love

Lauren Kung Jessen

This sweet, enemies-to-lovers debut rom-com filled with Chinese astrology will undoubtedly prove to be a perfect match with readers of Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory, and Sarah Adams.

China Dream by Ma Jian

China Dream

Ma Jian

A Chinese government bureaucrat tasked with overwriting people’s dreams with visions President Xi’s great China Dream is haunted by nightmares of the purges and murders of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist

Alka Joshi

A talented henna artist for wealthy confidantes finds her efforts to control her own destiny in 1950s Jaipur threatened by the abusive husband she fled as a teenage girl.

Greek Lessons by Han Kang

Greek Lessons

Han Kang

A young Korean woman losing her ability to speak befriends a Greek language teacher who is losing his sight, and soon they discover they have even more in common, in the new novel from the International Booker Prize-winning author of The Vegetarian.

Age Of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

Age Of Vice

Deepti Kapoor

After a speeding car kills five people late at night in New Delhi, the driver, a shell-shocked servant is unable to explain the series of strange events that lead to the crime.

Yellowface by R F Kuang

Yellowface

R F Kuang

After the death of her literary rival in a freak accident, author June Hayward steals her just-finished masterpiece, sending it to her agent as her own work, but as emerging evidence threatens her success, she discovers how far she’ll go to keep what shethinks she deserves.

The Book Of Goose by Yiyun Li

The Book Of Goose

Yiyun Li

When her friend Fabienne passes away, Agns is free to tell her story of a long-ago childhood in a war-ravaged, backwater town along the French countryside where Fabienne hatched a plan that changed everything, sending Agns on an epic journey through fame, fortune and terrible loss.

Paper Names by Susie Luo

Paper Names

Susie Luo

When an act of violence brings together a Chinese American family and a wealthy white lawyer, their lives become intertwined in ways that will change them forever, in this sweeping story of family, identity and the American experience.

The Chinese Groove by Kathryn Ma

The Chinese Groove

Kathryn Ma

Leaving China behind to claim his destiny in San Francisco, 18-year-old Shelley soon discovers the loving family he hoped would embrace him wants nothing to do with him, but Shelley, ever the optimist, concocts a plan to resuscitate his American dream by winning them over.

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage

Ling Ma

A collection of eight short stories from the author of Severance includes the tales of a woman who lives with all of her ex-boyfriends and of a toxic relationship built around a drug that makes you invisible.

Dust Child by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Dust Child

Nguyen Phan Que Mai

The abandoned son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman during the war dreams of finding his family and a better life in the new novel, from the internationally best-selling author of The Mountains Sing.

Arsenic And Adobo by Mia P Manansala

Arsenic And Adobo

Mia P Manansala

Returning home to help save her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, Lila Macapagal is shocked when her ex-boyfriend, a notoriously nasty food critic, dies suddenly, moments after they had a confrontation, leaving her the only suspect.

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

The Bangalore Detectives Club

Harini Nagendra

The first in a charming, joyful crime series set in 1920s Bangalore, featuring sari-wearing detective Kaveri and her husband Ramu. Perfect for fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key

Gigi Pandian

Tempest Raj, while visiting her dad’s latest renovation project, discovers the body of her former stage double and wonders if she was the original target, and as she dives into this impossible mystery, she wonders if the Raj family curse has finally come for her.

The Do-Over by Suzanne Park

The Do-Over

Suzanne Park

Told in present day with glimpses of the past, The Do-Over is a delightfully warm and hopeful story about second chances in life and love, and how the future might not be a straight line, but we still end up exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin

Wandering Souls

Cecile Pin

Seeking refuge in the UK after the last American troops leave Vietnam, Anh and her younger brothers, in a London plagued by social inequality and raging anti-immigrant sentiment, find their paths diverging as time passes, wondering if love alone can keep them together.

The Retreat by Zara Raheem

The Retreat

Zara Raheem

In Zara Raheem’s newest novel we meet Nadia Abbasi–whose attempts to save her marriage create unexpected complications–and follow her as she navigates the twists and turns of love.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City

Salman Rushdie

Giving rise to the great city Bisnaga, a wonder of the world, Pampa Kampana, the vessel for her namesake, the goddess Pampa, who has given her powers beyond her comprehension, attempts, over the centuries, to make good on the task the goddess set for her: women equal agency in a patriarchal world.

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

The Bandit Queens

Parini Shroff

Considered a “self-made” widow after the disappearance of her husband, Geeta, when other women in the village ask her for help in getting rid of their own no-good husbands, must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her fearsome reputation and the life she’s built.

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto

Dial A For Aunties

Jesse Q Sutanto

Accidentally causing the death of a blind date, Meddy is persuaded by her meddlesome Chinese-Indonesian mother and aunts to dispose of the body, which upends a billionaire�’s wedding and Meddy’s reunion with a former flame.

Daughters Of The New Year by E.M. Tran

Daughters Of The New Year

E.M. Tran

n New Orleans, three daughters of a former beauty queen and Vietnamese refugee obsessed with zodiac signs, are trying to go about their modern lives but begin to encounter strange glimpses of long-buried secrets from their ancestors.

The Covenant Of Water by Abraham Verghese

The Covenant Of Water

Abraham Verghese

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, and set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, an epic of love, faith and medicine follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning.

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

City Under One Roof

Iris Yamashita

Detective Cara Kennedy investigates a murder in a small Alaskan town after a local teen discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore, teaming up with a town police officer as bad weather approaches.

Non-Fiction and Biography

Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina

Speak, Okinawa

Elizabeth Miki Brina

An American woman whose parents met in U.S.-occupied Okinawa, her mother a war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran, describes the complicated, embattled dynamics of her family and the feelings of shame and self-loathing that plagued her cultural heritage.

Facing The Mountain by Daniel James Brown

Facing The Mountain
A True Story Of Japanese American Heroes In World War II

Daniel James Brown

Based on extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, the New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat chronicles the special Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe.

Tastes Like War by Grace M Cho

Tastes Like War

Grace M Cho

A powerful account of a Korean American daughter’s exploration of food and family history to understand her mother’s schizophrenia.

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother

Amy Chua

Traces the rewards and pitfalls of a Chinese mother’s exercise in extreme parenting, describing the exacting standards applied to grades, music lessons, and avoidance of Western cultural practices.

A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung

A Living Remedy

Nicole Chung

The best-selling author of All You Can Ever Know returns with a memoir of her experiences as a Korean adoptee and the challenges she faced holding on to family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy.

Bridge To The Sun by Bruce Henderson

Bridge To The Sun
The Secret Role Of The Japanese Americans Who Fought In The Pacific In World War II

Bruce Henderson

The best-selling author of Sons and Soldiers tells the story of the Japanese American U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the Pacific theater while their families were back home in America held in government internment camps.

Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls

T Kira Madden

The essayist recounts her coming of age in Boca Raton, Florida, where she was left to her own devices by oblivious parents who were battling addiction.

Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran

Sigh, Gone
A Misfit’s Memoir Of Great Books, Punk Rock, And The Fight To Fit In

Phuc Tran

Explores one man’s bewildering experiences of abuse, racism and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock.

Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas

Dear America
Notes Of An Undocumented Citizen

Jose Antonio Vargas

The journalist and immigration-rights activist presents a memoir relating how he was sent from the Philippines to the U.S. as a child, his discovery of his undocumented status as a teenager, and his decision to reveal his immigration status publicly in 2011.

Making A Scene by Constance Wu

Making A Scene

Constance Wu

Through raw and relatable essays, Constance shares private memories of childhood, young love and heartbreak, sexual assault and harassment, and how she “made it” in Hollywood. Her stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at being Asian American in the entertainment industry and the continuing evolution of her identity and influence in the public eye.

Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying In H Mart

Michelle Zauner

The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother.

Cookbooks

Mooncakes & Milk Bread by Kristina Cho

Mooncakes & Milk Bread
Sweet & Savory Recipes Inspired By Chinese Bakeries

Kristina Cho

A popular food blogger, focusing exclusively on Chinese bakeries and cafes, presents simple, easy-to-make interpretations of classic recipes for the modern baker, including sweet and savory baked buns, steamed buns, Chinese breads, unique cookies, juicy dumplings and more.

East Meets Vegan by Sasha Gill

East Meets Vegan
The Best Of Asian Home Cooking, Plant-Based And Delicious

Sasha Gill

A vibrant tour of Asia in 90 vegan recipes.

Indian-Ish by Priya Krishna

Indian-Ish
Recipes And Antics From A Modern American Family

Priya Krishna

Collects recipes for the home cook that merge Indian and American cuisine, including such dishes as tomato-cheese masala toast, roti noodle stir-fry, herby avocado sandwich, and garlic-ginger chicken with cilantro and mint.

Modern Asian Baking At Home by Kat Lieu

Modern Asian Baking At Home
Essential Sweet And Savory Recipes For Milk Bread, Mochi, Mooncakes, And More ; Inspired By The Subtle Asian Baking Community

Kat Lieu

“Inspired by the global “Subtle Asian” community, Modern Asian Baking at Home features exciting, contemporary Asian-inspired ingredients and techniques bakers of all levels will want to add to their repertoires.

The Wok by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The Wok
Recipes And Techniques

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

J. Kenji Loopez-Alt’s debut cookbook, The Food Lab, revolutionized home cooking, selling more than half a million copies with its science-based approach to everyday foods. And for fast, fresh cooking for his family, there’s one pan Lopez-Alt reaches for more than any other: the wok. Whether stir-frying, deep frying, steaming, simmering, or braising, the wok is the most versatile pan in the kitchen.

Chetna's 30-Minute Indian by Chetna Makan

Chetna’s 30-Minute Indian
Quick And Easy Everyday Meals

Chetna Makan

A collection of Indian recipes to make in thirty minutes or less features such dishes as traditional snacks, toppings for toasts, all-in-one rice dishes, raitas and dips, dals, and vegetable, fish, and meat curries.