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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we are celebrating some excellent AAPI authors. All these highlighted titles are are available for checkout at the Topsfield Town Library (or will be added soon)! Also, during the month of May our shelf-talkers in the fiction section will highlight more AAPI authors!

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague.

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

An incandescent and heartrending memoir about Qian Julie Wang’s five years living undocumented after immigrating with her parents from China to New York City in 1994.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Protagonist Frida Liu, a 39-year-old Chinese-American single mother in Philadelphia, loses custody of her 18-month-old daughter, Harriet, after she leaves Harriet home alone for two hours on one very bad day. To regain custody, Frida must spend a year at a newly-created institution, where she practices parenting with bad mothers from all over the county.

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee

From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, a brilliant, exuberant and entertaining story of a young American whose life is transformed when a Chinese-American businessman suddenly takes him under his wing on a global adventure.

Scattered all over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Welcome to the not-too-distant future: Japan, having vanished from the face of the earth, is now remembered as “the land of sushi.” Hiruko, its former citizen and a climate refugee herself, searches for anyone who can still speak her mother tongue.

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

A highly imaginative thriller about a young woman who discovers that a strange map in her deceased father’s belongings holds an incredible, deadly secret–one that will lead her on an extraordinary adventure and to the truth about her family’s dark history.

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born–a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam–and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.

Also by Ocean Vuong: Time is a Mother

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

From her place in the store that sells artificial friends, Klara–an artificial friend with outstanding observational qualities–watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. 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.

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormenters. These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.

View our other reading lists here.

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