An Intersectional Reading List for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

By Kim Tran, Ph.D

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People by Helen Zia

Legendary activist Helen Zia’s Asian American Dreams charts the formation of Asian American identity as relatively new and socially charged. Her groundbreaking book traces how Asian Americans transformed from a discordant group into a powerful political front modeled after the Black Panther Party. Looking at historical events, stereotypes, and social protest movements, Zia offers a rare comprehensive look at Asian America.

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Not Here Is Minneapolis based Hieu Minh Nguyen’s most recent book of poetry. In it, the author tackles Vietnamese American identity, queerness, trauma and family. Nguyen’s work is doused with loneliness, desire and the reality of human connection.

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (available on Netflix)

Grace Lee Boggs was Detroit based a Chinese American writer, and activist. For over 75 years, Boggs was a vital part of the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements. This award-winning documentary chronicles her life, her roots, and the path she created.

The Asian American Feminist Collective

The AAFC is a group of pan-ethnic writers and activists who are making it their goal to “continue interrogating and defining this movement as well as producing different spaces and resources to build stronger coalitions, connect people in the Asian American community, and produce new ideas.” Their cutting-edge blog features stories about racial and gender identity and their role in today’s world.

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

Through nine short stories about teachers, housemaids, mothers and sons, Mia Alvar gives voice to the transnational realities of the Filipino diaspora. Her themes have a wide range, spanning the experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across national and emotional borders. Alvar’s collection gives voice to all those seeking home.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors: A Novel by Nayomi Munaweera

Island of a Thousand Small Mirrors is a powerful epic about war, diaspora, and their toll. With the Sri Lankan civil war as its backdrop, Munaweera's story follows two women two young women and their inheritance of war and love. Island of a Thousand Mirrors depicts life at its most joyous and tragic.

The Book of Salt: A Novel by Monique Truong

The Book of Salt is a sensory induced journey through Paris in the 1930’s. It’s protagonist, Binh, is a Vietnamese cook employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Truong uses the backdrop of the French metropole and various iterations of queer life to explore themes of alienation and exile.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You is a study of familial relationships; their resentments, oversights and silence. Ng’s story is a heartfelt picture of a struggling family. It is a tale about Asian American firsts, its hazards and their triumphs.

The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Politics and Society in Modern America) by Scott Kurashige

In The Shifting Grounds of Race, Scott Kurashige takes on the question of cross-racial strife between Black and Japanese American communities in Los Angeles. Looking to significant events from the "model minority" stereotype to the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Kurashige’s work maps enduring questions about race in America.

Willie Jackson