Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Colleen Rowe | May 3 2022 | General

This month we proudly celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the important role of Asian and Asian American voices in our culture and in our classrooms. We’re spotlighting the achievements and contributions of those in the community who have greatly and positively impacted American culture at large. We recognize and applaud books by Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander creators that educate, empower, and inspire students all year around.

 

To Paradise

To Paradise is a novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment—an alternate version of 1893 America where New York is part of the Free States, a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic where a young Hawaiian man lives with his older, wealthier partner, and 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule.

 

Heart of Fire

Here is the intimate and inspiring life story of Mazie Hirono, the first Asian-American woman and the only immigrant serving in the U.S. Senate, in which Hirono traces her remarkable life from her earliest days in Hawaii to her recent transformation from dogged yet soft-spoken public servant into the frank and fiery advocate we know her as today.

 

The Loneliest Americans 

The Loneliest Americans is the unforgettable story of Jay Caspian 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.

 

They Called Us Enemy

Here is a stunning graphic memoir recounting George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

 

Beautiful Country 

When seven-year-old Qian Julie Wang arrives in New York City in 1994, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal.” Beautiful Country is an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light. 

 

Family in Six Tones

Here is a dual first-person memoir by the acclaimed Vietnamese-American novelist, Lan Cao, and her thoroughly American teenage daughter, Harlan Margaret Van Cao. Lan wrestles with her identities as not merely an immigrant but a refugee from an unpopular war. Harlan fiercely describes the rites of passage of childhood and adolescence, filtered through the aftereffects of her family’s history of war, tragedy, and migration.

 

Joan Is Okay

Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on being Chinese-American right now, working in medicine at a high-stakes time, finding one’s voice within a dominant culture, being a woman in a male-dominated workplace, and staying independent within a tight-knit family. 

 

All You Can Ever Know

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets—vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

 

Skinship

Winner of the Pen/Robert W. Bingham Prize

Through an indelible array of lives, Yoon Choi explores where first and second generations either clash or find common ground, where meaning falls in the cracks between languages, where relationships bend under the weight of tenderness and disappointment, where displacement turns to heartbreak.

 

Concepcion 

Tracing his family’s history through the region’s unique geopolitical roots in Spanish colonialism, American intervention, and Japanese occupation, Albert Samaha fits their arc into the wider story of global migration as determined by chess moves among superpowers. Concepcion explores what it might mean to reckon with the unjust legacy of imperialism.

 

See No Stranger

Valerie Kaur describes her own riveting journey—as a brown girl growing up in California farmland finding her place in the world, as a young adult galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11, as an activist working with communities recovering from xenophobic attacks. See No Stranger helps us imagine new ways to build the world we want to see.

 

Bibliolepsy

It is the mid-eighties, two decades into the brutal rule of Ferdinand Marcos. The Philippine economy is in a deep recession, and civil unrest is growing by the day. But Primi Peregrino has her own priorities: tracking down books and pursuing romantic connections with their authors. Bibliolepsy is a brilliantly unorthodox look at the rebellion that brought down a dictatorship.

 

Thank You, Mr. Nixon 

Beginning with a cheery letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on a fictional journey through U.S.-China relations, capturing the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change. With their profound compassion and humor, these eleven linked stories trace the intimate ways in which humans make and are made by history.

 

Mrs. Spring Fragrance

In this rediscovered classic of linked short stories set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Sui Sin Far portrays Chinese immigrants as they fall in love, encounter racism, and wrestle with their new Americanized identities—decades before writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. These stories are windows into the lives of everyday people in an unforgiving city.

 

Crying in H Mart

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Michelle Zauner gives an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage.

 

Minor Feelings 

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

 

Made in China

This powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant’s journey to an American future. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi’an to New York, Made in China is unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.

 

Speak, Okinawa

Here is Elizbeth Miki Brina’s memoir about her journey to understanding her complicated parents—her mother an Okinawan war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran—and her own, fraught cultural heritage. Speak, Okinawa is a startling accomplishment—a heartfelt exploration of identity, inheritance, forgiveness, and what it means to be an American.

 

A Daughter of the Samurai 

A young Japanese woman leaves the only home she’s ever known for married life in nineteenth-century Ohio in this delightful, charming memoir. It is a tribute to the struggles of the first generation of Japanese immigrants—with an introduction by Karen Tei Yamashita and Yuki Obayashi.


More Asian American Literature titles


Penguin Random House is proud to support non-profit organizations focused on key issues in the community, such as mental health access and stopping anti-Asian racism and violence.  Two of the organizations we are partnering with this year are the Asian Mental Health Collective, and NYC-based Soar Over Hate.

To Paradise
A Novel
978-0-385-54793-2
From the author of the classic A Little Life—a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.
$32.50 US
Jan 11, 2022
Hardcover
720 Pages
Doubleday

The Loneliest Americans
978-0-525-57622-8
A riveting blend of family history and original reportage by a conversation-starting writer for The New York Times Magazine that explores—and re-imagines—Asian American identity in a Black and white world 
$27.00 US
Oct 12, 2021
Hardcover
272 Pages
Crown

They Called Us Enemy
978-1-60309-450-4
New York Times Bestseller!A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
$19.99 US
Jul 16, 2019
Paperback
208 Pages
Top Shelf Productions

Beautiful Country
A Memoir
978-0-385-54721-5
Beautiful Country is the moving story of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world—an incandescent debut from an astonishing new talent.
$28.95 US
Sep 07, 2021
Hardcover
320 Pages
Doubleday


Joan Is Okay
A Novel
978-0-525-65483-4
A sly, powerful, deeply moving novel about a female doctor forced by crisis to reckon with a life optimized for work, from the award-winning author of Chemistry.
$27.00 US
Jan 18, 2022
Hardcover
224 Pages
Random House

All You Can Ever Know
A Memoir
978-1-948226-37-0
A NATIONAL BESTSELLERThis beloved memoir "is an extraordinary, honest, nuanced and compassionate look at adoption, race in America and families in general" (Jasmine Guillory, Code Switch, NPR)What does it means to lose your roots—within your culture, within your family—and what happens when you find them?Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from—she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets—vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.
$16.95 US
Oct 15, 2019
Paperback
256 Pages
Catapult

Skinship
Stories
978-0-593-31145-5
WINNER OF THE PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE
$17.00 US
Apr 26, 2022
Paperback
304 Pages
Vintage

See No Stranger
A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love
978-0-525-50911-0
For educator resources for See No Stranger, including a comprehensive educator’s guide, visit the author's website at valariekaur.com/learninghub/for-educators.
$18.00 US
Sep 07, 2021
Paperback
416 Pages
One World

Bibliolepsy
978-1-64129-251-1
Moving, sexy, and archly funny, Gina Apostol’s Philippine National Book Award-winning Bibliolepsy is a love letter to the written word and a  brilliantly unconventional look at the rebellion that brought down a dictatorship.
$26.00 US
Jan 04, 2022
Hardcover
216 Pages
Soho Press

Thank You, Mr. Nixon
Stories
978-0-593-31989-5
The acclaimed, award-winning author of The Resisters takes measure of the fifty years since the opening of China and its unexpected effects on the lives of ordinary people. It is a unique book that only Jen could write—a story collection accruing the power of a novel as it proceeds—a work that Cynthia Ozick has called “an art beyond art. It is life itself.”
$28.00 US
Feb 01, 2022
Hardcover
272 Pages
Knopf

Mrs. Spring Fragrance
and Other Writings
978-0-593-24120-2
A rediscovered classic of linked short stories set in San Francisco's Chinatown, portraying Chinese Americans as they fall in love, encounter racism, and wrestle with their new, hyphenated identities--a century before writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan.
$16.00 US
May 11, 2021
Paperback
192 Pages
Modern Library

Crying in H Mart
A Memoir
978-0-525-65774-3
Crying in H Mart is an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
$26.95 US
Apr 20, 2021
Hardcover
256 Pages
Knopf

Minor Feelings
An Asian American Reckoning
978-1-9848-2038-9
Selected for common reading at University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development
$18.00 US
Mar 02, 2021
Paperback
224 Pages
One World

Made in China
A Memoir of Love and Labor
978-1-64622-034-2
A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future.
$26.00 US
Aug 03, 2021
Hardcover
224 Pages
Catapult

Speak, Okinawa
A Memoir
978-1-9848-9846-3
Here is Elizbeth Miki Brina’s memoir about her journey to understanding her complicated parents—her mother an Okinawan war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran—and her own, fraught cultural heritage.
$17.00 US
Mar 01, 2022
Paperback
304 Pages
Vintage

A Daughter of the Samurai
A Memoir
978-0-593-24266-7
A young Japanese woman leaves the only home she's ever known for married life in nineteenth-century Ohio in a delightful and charming memoir about learning your own strengths and finding your way between two cultures.
$17.00 US
Jul 06, 2021
Paperback
304 Pages
Modern Library