May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It is a time to reflect on the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in history and culture, as well as achievements of those of Asian American or Pacific Islander descent.
At Middlesex Public Library, we have a large selection of books by authors who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islanders. Below you will find a list of some of the books in our collection. If you are looking for something that is not on the list, please let our reference staff know.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Lydia, the middle and favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill dreams they were unable to pursue — in Marilyn’s case that her daughter becomes a doctor, in James’s that she is popular with a busy social life. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the balancing act that has kept the Lee family together tumbles into chaos.
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. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.
With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.
The Incendiaries: A Novel by R.O. Kwon
Phoebe and Will meet in their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who blames herself for her mother’s death. Will is a misfit who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables in secret to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe. Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened and if she could have been responsible.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
A story of family identity and belonging follows an Indian family through the marriage of their daughter, from the parents’ arrival in the United States to the return of their estranged son.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Committed by Thanh Viet Nguyen
The astonishing sequel to The Sympathizer, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Committed follows the “man of two minds” as he comes to Paris as a refugee. There he and his blood brother Bon try to escape their pasts and prepare for their futures by turning their hands to capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing. No longer in physical danger, but still inwardly tortured by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, and struggling to assimilate into a dominant culture, the Sympathizer is both charmed and disturbed by Paris. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals and politicians who frequent dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese “aunt,” he finds not just stimulation for his mind but also customers for his merchandise-but the new life he is making has dangers he has not foreseen. Both literary thriller and brilliant novel of ideas, The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen’s position inthe firmament of American letters”
Young Adult Books
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved–five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
His parents work every day all day in a convenience store to keep their family alive. Frank wants to date an American girl and his parents are not happy about that.
The Song of Mu Lan by Jeanne Lee
Mu Lan is at her loom when she hears the Emperor’s call to arms. She rides off to war in her father’s stead, embarking on a journey of ten thousand miles that takes her away from home for ten years. Her courage and valor bring her to the Emperor’s attention and to the Golden Court. When offered whatever she wishes as a reward, she asks only to go home. There she surprises her mother and father, sister and brother–but it is her comrades in arms who are most surprised of all.
The Song of Mu Lan is closely translated from an ancient text and echoes the rhythms of Chinese, which is here faithfully reproduced in original calligraphy by Chan Bo Wan, the artist’s father. Jeanne M. Lee has rendered the panorama of characters in silken watercolors, providing a lush counterpoint to the spare, elegant text.
Tea with Milk by Allen Say
At home in San Francisco, May speaks Japanese and the family eats rice and miso soup and drinks green tea. When she visits her friends’ homes, she eats fried chicken and spaghetti. May plans someday to go to college and live in an apartment of her own. But when her family moves back to Japan, she soon feels lost and homesick for America. In Japan everyone calls her by her Japanese name, Masako. She has to wear kimonos and sit on the floor. Poor May is sure that she will never feel at home in this country. Eventually May is expected to marry and a matchmaker is hired. Outraged at the thought, May sets out to find her own way in the big city of Osaka. With elegant watercolors reminiscent of Grandfather’s Journey, Allen Say has created a moving tribute to his parents and their path to discovering where home really is. The accompanying story of his mother and her journey as a young woman is heartfelt.
Maya Lin: Artist Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
You may be familiar with the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But do you know about the artist-architect who created this landmark?As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.A Christy Ottaviano Book
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Reimagines the cycles of the moon as a mother bakes a Big Moon Cookie and, despite Mama’s request to wait, Little Star begins nibbling at it every night.