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Amplifying Asian and Pacific American authors reading list

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Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

The Libraries recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May through this list of reads recommended by Asian & Asian American Studies Librarian Julie Wang. The month celebrates the accomplishments of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including those with heritage from the Asian continent and the islands of the Pacific. Works in the Libraries’ collections address the complexities of Asian American identity, the challenges of the immigrant experience as well as intersections with socioeconomic status, gender and sexuality, language and culture. We encourage you to read works by and about Asian American experiences during May and throughout the year!

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Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Summi Kaipa, and Pireeni Sundaralingam (eBook)

The first anthology of its kind, Indivisible brings together forty-nine American poets who trace their roots to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The poems gathered here take us from basketball courts to Bollywood, from the Grand Canyon to sugar plantations, and from Hindu-Muslim riots in India to anti-immigrant attacks on the streets of post–9/11 America.

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We Are the Ocean: Selected Works by Epeli Hau’ofa (print book)

We Are the Ocean is a collection of essays, fiction, and poetry by Epeli Hau’ofa, whose writing over the past three decades has consistently challenged prevailing notions about Oceania and prescriptions for its development. He highlights major problems confronted by the region and suggests alternative perspectives and ways in which its people might reorganize to relate effectively to the changing world.

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Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong (print and eBook)

How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition–if such a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship.

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The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang (print book)

The Loneliest Americans is the unforgettable story of Kang and his family as they move from a housing project in Cambridge to an idyllic college town in the South and eventually to the West Coast. Their story unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Asian America, as millions more immigrants, many of them working-class or undocumented, stream into the country. At the same time, upwardly mobile urban professionals have struggled to reconcile their parents’ assimilationist goals with membership in a multicultural elite–all while trying to carve out a new kind of belonging for their own children, who are neither white nor truly “people of color.”

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The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee (print book)

In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

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Asian Americans: Oral Histories of First to Fourth Generation Americans from China, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Pacific Islands, Vietnam, and Cambodia by Joann Faung Jean Lee (print book)

Since the first three documented Chinese arrived in this country in 1848, more than six million Asians have followed. The huge immigrations of recent years have prompted a surge of interest in the new Asian American experience. In Asian Americans, these immigrants and their families present their own stories—why they came to America and what it means to be Asian in America today.

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Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics by Lisa Lowe (eBook)

In Immigrant Acts, Lisa Lowe argues that understanding Asian immigration to the United States is fundamental to understanding the racialized economic and political foundations of the nation. In this uniquely interdisciplinary study, Lowe examines the historical, political, cultural, and aesthetic meanings of immigration in relation to Asian Americans. Extending the range of Asian American critique, Immigrant Acts will interest readers concerned with race and ethnicity in the United States, American cultures, immigration and transnationalism.

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Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities by Erin Khuê Ninh (print book)

In her engaging study, Passing for Perfect, erin Khuê Ninh considers the factors that drove college imposters such as Azia Kim—who pretended to be a Stanford freshman—and Jennifer Pan—who hired a hitman to kill her parents before they found out she had never received her high school diploma—to extreme lengths to appear successful. These outlier examples prompt Ninh to address the larger issue of the pressures and difficulties of striving to be a model minority, where failure is too ruinous to admit.

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The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (print book, fiction)

In 1949, four Chinese women–drawn together by the shadow of their past–begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and “say” stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club–and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.

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Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History edited by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai (print book)

Same-Sex Love in India presents an array of writings on same-sex love from over 2,000 years of Indian literature. Translated from more than a dozen languages and drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern fictional traditions, these writings testify to the presence of same-sex love in various forms since ancient times.

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The Asian American Movement by William Wei (print book)

William Wei traces to the late 1960s the initial genesis of an Asian American identity, culture, and activism through which members of this pan-Asian group could assert their right to belong to and be respected as responsible members of this society. In this definitive study of the Asian American Movement, Wei fills an important gap in our knowledge of ethnic social movements and the struggle to achieve American cultural democracy.

Summaries of books are based on publisher information.