Observed each year since the late 1970s, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws attention to the contributions of, and challenges faced by, this diverse group of people. Including those from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month highlights the diverse groups of people who make up this often overlooked demographic.
To honor AAPI Heritage Month, Bustle has compiled a list of 19 recent books from Asian American and Pacific Islander authors. From works by famous comedians like Ali Wong and Fatimah Asghar, debut novelists such as Frances Cha, or literary darlings like Gish Jen — there's a wide-range of incredible works that will keep you reading long after the month is over.
Read on for more about these 19 dazzling titles:
If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar
Pakistani-Kashmiri-American poet Fatimah Asghar's debut collection, If They Come for Us, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Drawing from the poet's own experiences growing up without parents, the book moves through the pressing topics of race, gender, sexuality, place, and violence.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
Set in Seoul, If I Had Your Face pieces together a story from the lives of four women living in the same apartment building. All hard up for cash, Kyuri, Miho, Ara, and Wonna struggle to make ends meet and climb the big city's social and economic ladder in Frances Cha's debut.
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
The daughter of Chinese-American immigrants, the 24-year-old narrator of Alexandra Chang's debut novel feels stuck in her job as a tech writer in San Francisco. When her boyfriend, J, enrolls in a graduate program in New York, the narrator follows him, but soon finds that the racism and culture clashes she experienced in her old job may be present in her relationship, as well.
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
A biracial MIT grad reckons with racism and sexism in postwar America in The Tenth Muse. MIT grad Katherine is the daughter of a Chinese mother and a white father, but a family secret and the echoes of World War II send the mathematician on a search for answers in this new novel from the author of Forgotten Country.
Freelove by Sia Figiel
Samoan poet Sia Figiel's novel Freelove centers on a 17-year-old girl, Inosia Alofafua Afatasi, who visits the Samoan capital, Apia, for the first time in 1985. Combining 1980s pop culture references and miscellany with a coming-of-age story, as the protagonist experiences her sexual awakening.
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
Korean-American author Cathy Park Hong's lauded essay collection ruminates on the conflicts and tensions between her Asian American identity and the expectations of her white neighbors. As thought-provoking as it is beautifully written, Minor Feelings is a memoir-in-essays you won't want to miss out on reading.
Deceit and Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua
This debut story collection from A River of Stars author Vanessa Hua recently got a new addition, which means that now is the perfect time to read it. The stories in Deceit and Other Possibilities explore immigrant experiences in the U.S., following newly minted Americans from Mexico, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.
The Resisters by Gish Jen
AutoAmerica used to be the United States. Most of its citizens used to live on land. Now, marginalized individuals and families — known as the Surplus — have been pushed off-shore and into the swamplands of the South. In Gish Jen's version of near-future America, a Surplus Blasian girl shows Olympic promise as a rising baseball star, but the politics of racism and classism may complicate her climb to the top.
What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang
Maya Shanbhag Lang's memoir focuses on the author's relationship with her mother, an Indian-American doctor, who became suddenly emotionally distant and unsupportive when Lang had her first child. When the source of her mother's change turned out to be Alzheimer's, Lang began to discover that the woman her mother was may have never existed at all.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
T Kira Madden revisits the gut-wrenching stories of her childhood and adolescence in Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, a memoir about growing up queer and biracial in a family that was often emotionally unavailable. Madden wrestles with the aftermath of sexual assault, substance abuse, and her father's death in this poignant release.
Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
When the Internet takes her friendly chat with a fellow café patron to extremes, Katrina finds herself the subject of much speculation. She doesn't have romantic feelings for her conversation partner, and she's wildly uncomfortable with all the attention she's getting. What's a girl to do but hide out on a super-hot bodyguard's secluded family farm?
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
In Joanne Ramos' The Farm, a New York retreat offers disadvantaged women the opportunity to experience high-class treatment, and receive a lucrative sum, all in exchange for giving birth to another couple's child. Cut off from the outside world, Jane, an immigrant mother from the Philippines, finds herself yearning to know how her family is getting on without her, and fearing the loss of her expected income if she breaks the rules by contacting them, in this critically acclaimed novel.
Passage West by Rishi Reddi
An Indian man immigrates to World War I-era California in Karma and Other Stories author Rishi Reddi's debut novel. With a wife and child to support back home, Ram Singh is ready to put up with a lot of strife in order to lay the foundations of a good life for his family. But as tensions mount between California's immigrant community and its white residents, Ram begins to question his pursuit of the American dream in Passage West.
A Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok
Another poetry collection centered around identity, Monica Sok's A Nail the Evening Hangs On explores the poet's relationship to Cambodia — the country her parents fled in the 1970s. Ever-present in her mind and in the minds of her family members, Sok's Cambodia comes alive in this acclaimed book of poems.
The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
U.S. Fulbright Fellow Grace Talusan revisits her Filipino-American childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood in this stunning debut. Exploring themes of upward mobility, sexual abuse, and visa expiration, The Body Papers is a must-read memoir from a prominent new voice.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
A lyrical fantasy novella and series opener, Nghi Vo's The Empress of Salt and Fortune takes readers inside a country on the brink of change. As a new empress takes the throne, she calls her court to attendance, prompting a cleric, Chih, to hit the road. As they travel, Chih learns that the history of the previous Empress' reign has been uncovered, and they set off on a fact-finding mission to discover everything that was previously hidden from the public.
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Comedian Ali Wong shines in this book of letters to her young daughters. Dear Girls examines what it means to grow up as an Asian woman in the contemporary U.S. Bitingly funny and bitterly observant, Wong's book is the perfect read for any of her devoted fans.
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
A short-fiction collection from Tropic of Orange author Karen Tei Yamashita, Sansei and Sensibility reskins Jane Austen's beloved stories and characters into — relatively — contemporary settings and Japanese bodies. Even if you've never wondered what Darcy would be like as a high-school football hero, you'll love the care Yamashita takes with the re-imagined stories in this collection.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
In this much-talked-about debut, two children find themselves pitted against the ever-present dangers of the American West. Recently orphaned and finding no sympathy from their neighbors, Lucy and Sam set out across the desert in search of a new home. The going will be treacherous, but, maintaining their childlike optimism, the siblings sally forth in How Much of These Hills Is Gold.