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Books & Authors, Diverse Voices

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  During this month we spotlight the important contributions of AAPI individuals in our local communities and across our nation. Check out this list of new AAPI authors and their books that speak to the struggles and triumphs of Asian American identity.

The Sense of Wonder : A Novel by Matthew Salesses
When Won Lee, the first Asian American in the NBA, stuns the world in a seven-game winning streak, the global media audience dubs it The Wonder much to Won's chagrin. Meanwhile, Won struggles to get attention from his coach, his peers, his fans, and most importantly, his hero, Powerball!, who also happens to be Won's teammate and the captain. Covering it all is sportswriter Robert Sung, who writes about Won's stardom while grappling with his own missed hoops opportunities as well as his place as an Asian American in media. And to witness it all is Carrie Kang, a big studio producer, who juggles a newfound relationship with Won while attempting to bring K-drama to an industry not known to embrace anything new or different. "The Sense of Wonder" follows Won and Carrie as they chronicle the human and professional tensions exacerbated by injustices and fight to be seen and heard on some of the world's largest stages.

The Chinese Groove : A Novel by Kathryn Ma
Eighteen-year-old Shelley, born into a much-despised branch of the Zheng family in Yunnan Province and living in the shadow of his widowed father's grief, dreams of bigger things. Buoyed by an exuberant heart and his cousin Deng's tall tales about the United States, Shelley heads to San Francisco to claim his destiny, confident that any hurdles will be easily overcome by the awesome powers of the Chinese groove, a belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders.

From From : Poems by Monica Youn
"Where are you from . . . ? No--where are you from from?" It's a question every Asian American gets asked as part of an incessant chorus saying you'll never belong here, you're a perpetual foreigner, you'll always be seen as an alien, an object, or a threat. Monica Youn's "From From" brilliantly evokes the conflicted consciousness of deracination. If you have no core of "authenticity," no experience of your so-called homeland, how do you piece together an Asian American identity out of Westerners' ideas about Asians? Your sense of yourself is part stereotype, part aspiration, part guilt. A kaleidoscopic of personal essays that explore the racial positioning of Asian Americans and the epidemic of anti-Asian hate.

A Living Remedy : A Memoir by Nicole Chung
From the bestselling author of "All You Can Ever Know" comes a searing memoir of class, inequality, grief, a daughter's search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she's lost. In this country, unless you attain extraordinary wealth, you will likely be unable to help your loved ones in all the ways you'd hoped. You will learn to live with the specific, hollow guilt of those who leave hardship behind, yet are unable to bring anyone else with them. Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, "A Living Remedy" examines what it takes to reconcile the distance between one life, one home, and another - and sheds needed light on some of the most persistent and tragic inequalities in American society.

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou
Twenty-nine-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperate to finish her dissertation on the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about "Chinese-y" things again. But after years of grueling research, all she has to show for her efforts are junk food addiction and stomach pain. When she accidentally stumbles upon a curious note in the Chou archives one afternoon, she convinces herself it's her ticket out of academic hell. This uproarious and bighearted satire is a blistering send-up of privilege and power in America, and a profound reckoning of individual complicity and unspoken rage. In this electrifying debut novel from a provocative new voice, Elaine Hsieh Chou asks who gets to tell our stories and how the story changes when we finally tell it ourselves.

My Life : Growing Up Asian in America by
There are 23 million people, representing more than 20 countries, each with unique languages, histories, and cultures, clumped under one banner: Asian American. Though their experiences are individual, certain commonalities appear. Through a series of essays, poems, and comics, 30 creators give voice to moments that defined them and shed light on the immense diversity and complexity of the Asian American identity. Edited by CAPE and with an introduction by renowned journalist SuChin Pak, "My Life: Growing Up Asian in America" is a celebration of community, a call to action, and a road map for a brighter future.

The School for Good Mothers : A Novel by Jessamine Chan
Set in near-future America, "The School for Good Mothers" introduces readers to a government-run reform program where bad mothers are retrained using robot doll children with artificial intelligence. Protagonist Frida Liu, a 39-year-old Chinese-American single mother in Philadelphia, loses custody of her 18-month-old daughter, Harriet, after she leaves Harriet home alone for two hours on one very bad day. To regain custody, Frida must spend a year at a newly-created institution, where she practices parenting with bad mothers from all over the county. There, she learns to love an uncannily life-like toddler girl doll in order to demonstrate her maternal instincts and prove to her family court judge that she deserves a second chance. Frida is an outsider in every way: better educated, more affluent, and the only Asian. The mothers, whose transgressions range from benign to horrific, are under constant surveillance. If they don't pass all the school's tests, their parental rights will be terminated. Inspired by dystopian classics such as "1984", "Never Let Me Go", and "The Handmaid's Tale", the novel eviscerates the dominant American parenting culture, while highlighting the tragedy of state-sponsored family separation.

Island Wisdom : Hawaiian Traditions and Practices for a Meaningful Life by Kainoa Daines
More than just a beautiful paradise, Hawai'i has a rich culture, deeply rooted in tradition. Native Hawaiian and cultural expert Kainoa Daines has spent many years teaching visitors to the islands about this time-honored wisdom, and now he has teamed up with journalist Annie Daly to share that knowledge with you. "Island Wisdom" is an inspirational and rewarding journey through traditional Hawaiian teachings that have stood the test of time. Filled with the voices and guidance of Hawaiian elders, regional folklore, ancient teachings, and gorgeous local photography and illustrations throughout this book is a celebration of Hawaiian culture, language, and values that will give you a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for Hawai'i and the Hawaiian way of life.

Our Missing Hearts : A Novel by Celeste Ng
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in Harvard University's library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve 'American culture' in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic including the work of Bird's mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old. Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn't know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn't wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find her.

Which Side Are You on : A Novel by Ryan Lee Wong
How can we live with integrity and pleasure in this world of police brutality and racism? An Asian American activist is challenged by his mother to face this question in this powerful and funny debut novel of generational change, a mother's secret, and an activist's coming-of-age. Twenty-one-year-old Reed is fed up. Angry about the killing of a Black man by an Asian American NYPD officer, he wants to drop out of college and devote himself to the Black Lives Matter movement. But would that truly bring him closer to the moral life he seeks? In a series of intimate, charged conversations, his mother who once lead a Korean-Black coalition demands that he rethink his outrage, and along with it, what it means to be an organizer, a student, an ally, an American, and a son.

One Jump at a Time : My Story by Nathan Chen
In this exhilarating memoir, three-time World Champion and Olympic gold-medalist Nathan Chen tells the story of his remarkable journey to success, reflecting on his life as a Chinese American figure skater and the joys and challenges he has experienced including the tremendous sacrifices he and his family made, and the physical and emotional pain he endured. Pulling back the curtain on the figure skating world and the Olympics, Chen reveals what it was really like at the Beijing Games and competing on the US team in the same city his parents had left and his grandmother still lived. Poignant and unfiltered, told in his own words, "One Jump at a Time" is the story of one extraordinary young man and a testament to the love of a family and the power of persistence, grit, and passion.

Sari, Not Sari : A Novel by Sonya Singh
Manny Dogra is the beautiful young CEO of Breakup, a highly successful company that helps people manage their relationship breakups. As preoccupied as she is with her business, she's also planning her wedding to handsome architect Adam Jamieson while dealing with the loss of her beloved parents. For reasons Manny has never understood, her mother and father, who were both born in India, always wanted her to become an 'All-American' girl. So that's what she did. She knows next to nothing about her South Asian heritage, and that's never been a problem until her parents are no longer around, and an image of Manny that's been Photoshopped to make her skin look more white appears on a major magazine cover. Suddenly, the woman who built an empire encouraging people to be true to themselves is having her own identity crisis.

 

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