Asian and Pacific Island Voices

Asian and Pacific Island Voices

Asian and Pacific Island Voices

A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!

May 2023

Fiction | Nonfiction | Graphic Novels


Aue Aue by Becky Manawatu

“Aue” is a Maori expression of emotional distress or surprise, and is what guides protagonist Taukiri, whose father has been lost to gang violence and mother has disappeared. Plus, he has abandoned his eight-year old brother, Arama, whose strength and bravery help abate the violence that surrounds him. Arama, along with a friend and his dog, are able to overcome the odds set against them in this multi-award winning debut novel.

Ghost Town Ghost Town by Kevin Chen; translated from the Mandarin by Darryl Sterk

Seeking acceptance as a young gay man, Keith Chen leaves his Taiwanese family behind for a fresh start in Berlin upon his release from prison for killing his boyfriend. As the story unfolds, so also does the truth behind Chen’s boyfriend’s murder and numerous family secrets are revealed in this haunting and atmospheric tour de force.

Grown-Up Pose Grown-Up Pose by Sonya Lalli

Grown-Up Pose is a story of self-realization and the conflict between traditional obligations and the free-spirited search for a unique path in life. While feelings of irresponsibility plague Anu, the main character, she must look inside herself to evoke the strong, independent woman that she needs to be.

Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho

Lucie Yi is a woman attempting to balance her career ambitions with her responsibilities as a single parent. She signs up to a co-parenting website in a desperate hope at equilibrium in her life. Her search on the site opens her up to a surprise match beyond all expectations.

Miracle Creek Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year concerning Korean immigrant Pak Yoo, who runs a business using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat conditions spanning from autism to infertility. When an explosion at the facility leads to three deaths, secrets beyond imagination rise to the surface, shaking a small community to its core.

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan reluctantly returns to her hometown of San Francisco’s Chinatown after her mother’s death and learns she’s inheriting her grandmother’s restaurant. When a local seer divines she must prepare three recipes for the business to succeed, Natalie doesn’t think it’s worth the effort. But she has a change of heart after winning the support of the local community and the support of a new friend.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Maali was a photographer chronicling the Sri Lankan civil war, when he was murdered by an unknown assailant. Having returned from the dead, he has seven moons to decipher who has killed him. Part satire, part epic, and winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, Seven Moons is a journey into a world of disturbing yet deep truths, written by Sri Lanka’s foremost author.

Tomb of Sand Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree; translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell

Tomb of Sand centers around Ma, the matriarch of a northern Indian family. Bedridden after her husband’s death, Ma’s life changes when her youngest son gives her a magical golden cane, and she is taken on a miraculous adventure that changes the lives of everyone around her.

Up in the Main House and Other Stories Up in the Main House and Other Stories by Nadeem Zaman

Don Tillman, a professor of genetics with Asperger’s, decides that it is time for him to get married. The problem is finding the perfect wife– one who does not smoke, drink, or arrive late to everything. He creates the Wife Project, an intricate, scientifically-based analysis to filter out the “imperfect” possibilities. And then he meets Rosie Jarman, who is anything but perfect, but somehow completely right for him.

White Ivy White Ivy by Susie Yang

White Ivy is a coming-of-age story whose main character, Ivy Lin, is caught in a love triangle that places her between two different worlds. She is infatuated with Gideon from an upper class Massachusetts family; however, she has become reacquainted with a man from her past. The book is a brilliant look into complex cultural issues– especially class, race, and social identity.

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Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avcashia

As a queer, brown, Asian-American in West Virginia, author Neema Avashia experienced anything but a stereotypical Appalachian upbringing. However, in her adult life, the lessons she learned growing up about race and class, gender and sexuality have been used to help her evolve as a teacher, advocate, and human.

Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story by Mazie K. Hirono

Born to a poor family of rice producers in rural Japan, Mazie Hirono journeyed with her mother and siblings to Hawai’i after leaving behind an abusive father. Surviving many hardships and challenges, Maizie fought her way into the U.S. Senate in 2012 to become one of its most effective Democratic leaders. This autobiography is a “moving and galvanizing account of a woman coming into her own power” (Publisher).

Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna

This book of delectable Indian-American recipes by food writer Priya Krishna showcases her mother’s simple yet flavorful and highly accessible meals inspired by both Indian cuisine and American popular culture.

Korean American: A Cookbook Korean American: A Cookbook by Eric Kim

Eric Kim, the son of Korean immigrants, shares delightful family recipes, alongside stories and illustrations packed with information about Korean history and what it is like to immigrate from Korea to the United States. Recipes range from traditional Korean dishes to innovative American standards.

Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution by Helen Zia

Chinese American journalist Helen Zia chronicles the story of the last living generation of refugees from China’s 1949 Communist Revolution. She interviews four people who became part of the mass exodus from Shanghai to Hong Kong, the United States, and Taiwan. Once considered China’s most westernized city, Shanghai transformed after Mao’s proletariat victory, leaving many fleeing to uncertain asylum.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

In T Kira Madden’s debut memoir, she describes the difficulties of coming-of-age as a queer, biracial teenager in Florida. Although rich and privileged, she was left without guidance to navigate a household with two drug-addicted parents, and a culture which thrives upon racial and sexual harassment. This book’s candid and lyrical prose was a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2019.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Minor Feelings explores the ambivalent and often misleading views about Asian American identity in contemporary American society. Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong incisively dispels many commonly held stereotypes about the Asian American experience in the United States. The book is equal parts memoir, history, and cultural criticism, and is at long last a remedy to a malady of outdated social views.

Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India by Jyoti Thottam

In 1947, six nuns journeyed from Kentucky to northern India’s poorest state to build a hospital. The author’s mother was one of the brave Indian nurses who defied misogynistic social norms to train as a nurse with the nuns running the hospital. Administered almost completely by women, the hospital cared for anyone in need, disregarding both the caste system and religious status. A remarkable and inspiring story.

Wild Sweetness Wild Sweetness by Thalia Ho

From award-winning food blogger Thalia Ho comes this unique and irresistible cookbook that “brings wild flavors to desserts as told through the seasons” (Publisher). From recipes for lemon thyme bars to rose ras el hanout, the use of wild flavors for conventional baking practices is an enchanting treat for any food connoisseur.

Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life by Eric Garcia

In this thought-provoking series of essays, conversations, photographs, and previously published works by the author of Disability Visibility, the reader is presented with an inspiring collage of Wong’s accomplishments as a community organizer. “Filled with incisive wit, joy, and rage, Wong’s Year of the Tiger will galvanize readers with big cat energy” (Publisher).

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Graphic Novels

Good Talk Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Jacobs is known for her Buzzfeed piece “37 Difficult Questions from My Mixed-Race Son.” Using snippets of these conversations and others from her life, she shows how racism exposes the divide between America’s aspirations and its fractured reality. This tender and funny graphic memoir also touches on sex, love, family, and identity with unique, mixed media artwork.

Monstress: Volume One, Awakening Monstress: Volume One, Awakening by Marjorie Liu; illustrated by Sana Takeda

Set in a post-apocalyptic alternate world where a devastating war between humans and their archenemies the Arcanics have laid waste to the planet, teenager Maika Halfwolf must unlock the key to her mysterious past. She’s torn between life as a hunted survivor and an even darker fate, where monstrous powers lurk within her. This dazzling and stylistically complex comic is embellished with superb art deco elements mixed with steampunk inventiveness.

The Peanut Butter Sisters and Other American Stories The Peanut Butter Sisters and Other American Stories by Rumi Hara

Incorporating elements of magical realism with delightful storytelling, Rumi Hara has her characters living everyday lives while confronting a kaleidoscope of fantastical impossibilities. Each new page brings a new surprise, and Hara’s “ability to weave the absurd with the real on such a charming and commanding level– is refreshingly unrivaled” (Publisher).

Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology edited by Jeff Yang

Shattered is the second collection in a series of works by Asian American comics writers. In this series, the genres employed go beyond superhero exploits to horror, fantasy, pulp, martial arts and more. Each chapter is organized around five Asian stereotypes that the contributors wish to repudiate– brute, brain, temptress, manipulator, and alien.

They Called Us Enemy They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott

Imprisoned as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II within American concentration camps, legendary actor and activist George Takei describes his childhood plight in this moving and thought provoking memoir.

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