In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, the NMC library has compiled a list of books, films and podcasts for you to enjoy throughout the month of May.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as seven other awards, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake follows the Ganguli family as they move from sunny Kolkata, India, to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Indian tradition dictates that the maternal grandfather names the firstborn son — but without family near and the need to put a name on his birth certificate, Gogol is instead named after his father’s favorite Russian novelist. As Gogol carves out his own America, stumbling along the first-generation path, Lahiri insightfully reveals the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world and the ways each of us not only defines our own American experience but ourselves.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. Set in New York and China, the Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Following the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio in the 1990s.
The Joy Luck Club: A Novel by Amy Tan
In San Francisco, a group of aging Chinese women meet regularly to trade familial stories while playing Mahjong. In a series of sixteen vignettes that spans generations and continents, this adaptation of Amy Tan’s bestselling novel explores cultural conflict and the often-turbulent relationships between four first-generation Chinese-American women and their mothers.
Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith
Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge. In 1986, the teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family loses her way in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed. In 2011, a young, unhappy Vietnamese American woman disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace.
Honor: a novel by Thrity Umrigar
The story of two Indian women, one a victim of a brutal crime and the other an Americanized journalist returning to India to cover the story, and the courage they inspire in each other.
The School for Good Mothers: a novel by Jessamine Chan
In this taut and explosive debut novel of a near-future dystopian society, one lapse in judgment lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
JUVENILE & YOUNG ADULT FICTION
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
When Lily moves with her family to Washington to be with her ailing grandmother, or Halmoni, the last thing she expects is to encounter a magical tiger she’s heard about in Halmoni’s Korean folktales. She soon learns that the tiger is the key to uncovering Halmoni’s past and possibly saving her life. When You Trap a Tiger is a powerful story about one of our greatest powers — storytelling and the effects those stories have on who we become.
A Step from Heaven by An Na
Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award in 2002. A young Korean girl and her family find it difficult to learn English and adjust to life in America.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Lo’s latest is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1950s. Lily Hu is a 17-year-old Chinese American who is questioning her sexuality. She finds acceptance through another teen named Kath at the Telegraph Club, a lesbian nightclub. As their romance grows, so does the Red Scare paranoia that surrounds them. Lo brilliantly captures the intense feelings of inner turmoil, belonging, and identity.
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
Chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters growing up in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill.
Newberry Honor book in 2005.
NONFICTION & MEMOIR
Minor Feelings: an Asian American reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human. Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. She believes that “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality– when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity.
Eat a Peach by David Chang and Gabe Ulla
From the chef behind Momofuku and star of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious—an intimate account of the making of a chef, the story of the modern restaurant world that he helped shape, and how he discovered that success can be much harder to understand than failure.
Also available in the NMC library is David Chang’s cookbook Momofuku.
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.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement, in what became known as the Stanford Assault Case, sparked international debates around sexual assault and rape culture. In Know My Name, she sheds the alias of Emily Doe and reclaims her own history. Recounting the trauma of the assault and the subsequent trial, Miller eloquently and powerfully describes feelings of shame, isolation, and vulnerability — thereby highlighting a system and culture which protects the perpetrator instead of the victim. But this is also a triumphant account of healing and Miller’s celebration of her own personhood.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong’s first full-length collection of poetry aims straight for the perennial “big”—and very human—subjects of romance, family, memory, grief, war, and melancholia. None of these he allows to overwhelm his spirit or his poems, which demonstrate, through breath and cadence and unrepentant enthrallment, that a gentle palm on a chest can calm the fiercest hunger.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
As a first-generation American born to parents who migrated there from India, Jacob has long experienced the complexities of her hybrid identity. But as she becomes a mother to a son with a white father, Jacob finds herself having to address the unavoidable questions pertaining to race, love, and even politics that arise with her son’s inquisitive mind. Jacob realizes with resounding clarity that what they’re living in is an America vastly different from the image that Jacob was taught to believe in.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
Becca moves to an upscale Silicon Valley suburb and is surprised when she develops a bond with girls who belong to the popular clique-and even more surprised when she learns their secrets.
Himawari House by Harmony Becker
Living in a new country is no walk in the park? Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self-discovery, love, and family.
Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan; photographs by Gabriele Stabile
Momofuku is both the story and the recipes behind the cuisine that has changed the modern-day culinary landscape. Chang relays with candor the tale of his unwitting rise to superstardom, which, though wracked with mishaps, happened at light speed. And the dishes shared in this book are coveted by all who’ve dined—or yearned to—at any Momofuku location (yes, the pork buns are here).
Let’s Make Dumplings! a comic book cookbook by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan
Includes dumpling history and lore, this comic book cookbook invites readers to explore the big little world of Asian dumplings and proves that intricate folding styles and flavorful fillings are achievable in the home kitchen.
Land of Fish and Rice: recipes from the culinary heart of China by Fuchsia Dunlop
An exploration of techniques and ingredients key to the Jiangnan kitchen collects recipes for dishes that celebrate the culinary delights of the Yangtze region, featuring such dishes as clear-steamed sea bass, fresh soybeans with pickled greens, and dingpo pork.
Seoul Food Korean Cookbook by Naomi Imatone-Yun
Korean cooking from kimchi and bibimbap to fried chicken and bingsoo. Learn deliciously authentic Korean cooking, from traditional Korean favorites to modern recipes including Seoul-Style fusion.
FILMS IN KANOPY
The Farewell filmmaker Lulu Wang
In this funny, heartfelt story, Billi’s (Awkwafina) family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch – the only person that doesn’t know she only has a few weeks to live.
Golden Globe winner and a Sundance Film Festival selection.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress filmmaker Dai Sijie
Based on the best-selling novel set during China’s cultural revolution, this acclaimed film is about two young men, university students, who are sent to a remote mountain village for a Maoist re-education, to purge them of their decadent Western education. The local beauties are the only respite and they set about wooing the region’s tailor’s granddaughter with forbidden books.
Whale Rider filmmaker Niki Caro
On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. Since then, Whangara Chiefs, always male, always firstborn have been considered Paikea’s direct descendants until Pai and 11-year-old girl believes she is the next chief.
Lucky Grandma filmmakers Cara Marcous, Krista Parris, and Sasie Sealy
In New York City’s Chinatown, a Chinese grandma goes all in at the casino, landing herself on the wrong side of luck.
BEYOND THE LIBRARY: PODCASTS
FOGO: Fear of Going Outside
“As Vietnamese-American host Ivy Le points out, “most nature shows are hosted by reckless white men,” and she’s setting out to create one of her own. Thing is, Le’s a self-described indoor person, who jokes that “my kind of people only go into the woods when they’re being shot at.” FOGO follows Le as she learns every single thing one needs to know to be great at camping. Will she survive in the wilderness? Listen to find out.”
“Hosts and marketing professionals Sharon Lee Thony and Raman Sehgal are Chinese-American and Indian-American, respectively, and each week they unpack the ways one’s cultural background informs their life’s trajectory. In thoughtful interviews, the pair and a guest dive deep into the unique ways one’s ethnicity, gender, sexuality and/or country of origin impact the way they see the world—and themselves.”
“Co-hosts Tony Nagatani and Kevin Xu both have extensive backgrounds in political organizing for Barack Obama, among others. On Model Majority, their guests frequently include Asian American lawmakers, activists, and other community leaders—and like other political podcasts such as Pod Save America, it’s all interspersed with takes from Nagatani and Xu themselves.”
New Books in East Asian Studies
If you were looking for something new to read, you’ve come to the right place with this podcast. Reviewing books from all different genres, this podcast features interviews with various authors in East Asian studies.
New Books in South Asian Studies
Another great podcast exploring books, but this time, it’s all about South Asian studies.