Since 1990, the U.S. has celebrated May as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month, a celebration of AAPI culture and contributions. May was chosen because it marked the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant and honored the completion of the transcontinental railroad, whose many workers were Chinese immigrants.
One of my favorite ways to honor and learn about people and cultures different from my own is through reading. And by purchasing and reading books by AAPI authors, it encourages publishing to put out more books by AAPI authors while also allowing us to appreciate their culture and experiences.
The books on this list written by AAPI authors will make you laugh, cry, and think differently. From novels exploring identity to memoirs rich with history of food to the immigrant experiences, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) deserve to have their stories heard. Here are seven of my favorite books by AAPI authors to check out.
This novel follows Joan, a 30-something ICU doctor in NYC who is trying to understand her place in the world and how to incorporate her Chinese culture with the expectations she has at work. Her father passes away and her mother returns back to America to reconnect, and Joan is forced to step out of her comfort zone as her world expands outside the hospital.
Homeland Elegies was named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year. It is a unique blend of fiction, social commentary, and literary novel that follows the story of a Muslim father and son in America, where debt has taken over so many people’s lives. Without a doubt, this is a book to remember and to learn a new perspective on the American dynamic and its impact on Muslim individuals in America.
When 7-year-old Qian comes to America, she is struck by how in China, her parents were professors, and now, they are labeled as “illegals.” In this gripping memoir, we follow Qian’s coming of age, as she is ostracized by classmates for her limited English while her family struggles in sweatshops to survive their new life in America.
While I love a good romance or thriller, I have a deep appreciation for a food memoir that can weave personal narrative along with the importance of food and its impact. Ghosh does this seamlessly as she shares her immigrant journey as a daughter of Indian refugees and her experiences as a woman of color in the science field.
This biography follows the journey of six nuns from Appalachia in the 1940s as they build a hospital in the poorest state in India. I found myself tearing through the pages, following their journey and feeling every ache, hope, and accomplishment with them. Simply put, it's a must-read by Thottam.
Madden is a powerful essayist who shares her coming-of-age story as a queer, biracial teenager who comes from a life of extravagance. She brings readers with her on her beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking experiences as she copes with the loss of her father.
This memoir written by singer, songwriter, and musician Michelle Zauner—lead vocalist of indie rock band Japanese Breakfast—chronicles her experience growing up in a Korean household in Oregon and reconnecting with her Asian American roots after her mom is diagnosed with terminal cancer.