It’s May and that means it’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! This commemorative month was created in 1990 to honor the accomplishments, history, and culture of all Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. This celebration encompasses all of Asia, the Pacific Islands, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Many cities host parades, events, and exhibits to celebrate. There are so many fantastic Asian and Pacific writers out there, this list is just a starting point!
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho
Gentle and poetic, this picture book celebrates Asian features through gorgeous illustrations and affirming language. Ideal for opening up conversation with little ones, this book is great for family reading time.
Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai
Told from the perspective of a young girl as her family makes the difficult, often dangerous journey from Vietnam, this book features evocative illustrations. Each moment in the move has a wish, to make the journey easier. This book is full of big emotions and questions and asks readers of all ages to pay attention.
A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
This one is for fans of The Great British Baking Show. Liza has never shied away from a challenge, but when her mom signs her up for a baking competition, Liza thinks it’s her chance to get out of her sister’s shadow. The competition, it turns out, is more of a Liza’s-mom-trying-to-set-her-up-with-a-nice-Asian-boy thing than a baking competition. Will Liza earn her parent’s approval and the competition, or will she end up heartbroken?
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Twisty and ethereal, this sci-fi novel explores the bonds of sisterhood and the uncertainty of the future. Told from the perspectives of Cee, alone on an island and desperate to return home, and Kasey, a STEM prodigy living in isolation in an eco-city, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is an immersive, emotional thriller.
The Obsession by Jessie Q. Sutanto
Some might call Logan dangerous, a stalker even, but he’s just observant. He knows Delilah better than anyone else. He watches her every move, he knows her every step. When Logan witnesses something unforgettable, he can’t let it go, even if Delilah can. This thriller builds on itself in a delightfully eerie way.
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Akhtar bares his soul in this novel inspired by his own experiences in post 9/11 America. While fictionalized, Homeland Elegies expresses the reality of Muslim Americans while contemplating art, religion, capitalism, and family. Timely and highly original, Homeland Elegies is a book of reflections.
Language of the Geckos and Other Stories by Gary Pak
This collection of short stories examines the particular lives of Native Hawaiians and residents on land that is haunted by the past. Using Hawaiian Pidgin and spiritual references, Pak highlights issues facing Native Hawaiians today.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (June 1)
Jordan Baker, the dazzling, mysterious socialite of The Great Gatsby, gets her own story in Vo’s debut novel. Adopted into a white family, Jordan’s life is full of secrets and privilege, yet on the fringes of society. Complexly layered with magic and summer heat, The Chosen and the Beautiful is a dreamlike novel that explores history, race, sexuality, and gender.
The Groom Will Keep His Name by Matt Ortile
In this self-reflective book of essays, Ortile examines his own biases against being a queer Asian immigrant. Candid and wry, Ortile discusses sex, colonialism, and identity. There are moments of triumph among moments of heartbreak. This book is a treasure.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Inspired by conversations with her son, Good Talk is a graphic memoir of all the funny, sad, humiliating, and hopeful things about growing up Indian in America. Jacob writes in memories and possibilities, with warmth and humor, even about the challenges.
To learn more about Asian Pacific Heritage Month, visit the official website. In the meantime, for more Asian and Pacific books, we’ve got you covered!
- For family story time, check out these 20 Children’s Books by AAPI Writers and Illustrators.
- Watch out for these upcoming 2021 YA Books by AAPI authors.
- Did you know there’s a literature award for Asian Pacific American Writers? These award-winning books belong on your TBR asap!
What Asian Pacific American books are you going to read this May?