Recommended Reading for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month so to lift up the voices and histories of these Americans, here are a selection of books to add to your reading list.

American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders, by Gary Okihiro

"A survey of U.S. history from its beginnings to the present, American History Unbound reveals our past through the lens of Asian American and Pacific Islander history. In so doing, it is a work of both history and anti-history, a narrative that fundamentally transforms and deepens our understanding of the United States. This text is accessible and filled with engaging stories and themes that draw attention to key theoretical and historical interpretations. Gary Y. Okihiro positions Asians and Pacific Islanders within a larger history of people of color in the United States and places the United States in the context of world history and oceanic worlds." -- Publisher Description

A Different Shade of Justice: Asian American Civil Rights in the South, by Stephanie Hinnershitz

"In the Jim Crow South, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and, later, Vietnamese and Indian Americans faced obstacles similar to those experienced by African Americans in their fight for civil and human rights. Although they were not Black, Asian Americans generally were not considered White and thus were subject to school segregation, antimiscegenation laws, and discriminatory business practices. As Asian Americans attempted to establish themselves in the South, they found that institutionalized racism thwarted their efforts time and again. However, this book tells the story of their resistance and documents how Asian American political actors and civil rights activists challenged existing definitions of rights and justice in the South." -- Publisher Description

Narratives of Diaspora Representations of Asia in Chinese American Literature, by Walter S. H. Lim

"Chinese American authors often find it necessary to represent Asian history in their literary works. Tracing the development of the literary production of Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See, and Russell Leong, among others, this book captures the effects of international politics and globalization on Chinese American diasporic consciousness." -- Publisher Description

Learning from My Mother's Voice: Family Legend and the Chinese American Experience, by Jean Lau Chin

"A compelling saga of mothers and daughters, survival and striving, women, family, and culture that will resonate with all Americans who have immigrant roots. This fascinating book takes a new and different look at the immigrant experience of Asian Americans. Through the voice of her Chinese mother, the author examines perennial themes of separation, loss, guilt, and bicultural identity in the lives of immigrant families. Grounded in a historical context that spans events of more than a century - World War II, McCarthyism, Civil Rights, the Women's movement - this volume uses oral history to show how families rely upon myth and legend as they adjust to a new culture. Illustrates how strong cultural and inter-generational bonds can both support and oppress Chinese American families; Uses Asian mythology and symbols to understand the psyche of Chinese Americans and their immigration experience, illustrating the contrasting world views of Asian and Western culture. Provides strategies for coping with the immigration experience for use by counselors and other professionals." -- Publisher Description

Breaking the Silence: Redress and Japanese American Ethnicity, by Yasuko Takezawa

"This book is a unique interpretation of how wartime internment and the movement for redress affected Japanese Americans. Yasuko I. Takezawa, a Japanese national who has lived in the Japanese American community as well as in the larger American society, has a distinctive vantage point from which to assess the changing meaning of being a Japanese American. Takezawa focuses on the impact of two critical incidents in Japanese American history-the wartime evacuation and internment of more than a hundred thousand individuals and the redress campaign that resulted in an official apology and reparation payments from the U.S. government. Her book is a moving account filled with personal stories-both painful and joyous-told to her by Nisei and Sansei (second- and third-generation) interviewees in Seattle. Covering the period before, during, and after World War II, Takezawa captures the internal struggles of the Japanese American community in seeking redress. She shows how its members have handled identity crises caused by racial discrimination, evacuation and internment, and the long-prevalent American ideology of the melting pot. She is particularly skillful in comparing the differences between the generations as they sorted out their experiences and reconfirmed their ethnic identity through the redress movement." -- Publisher Description

Japanese American Resettlement Through the Lens: Hikaru Carl Iwasaki and the WRA's Photographic Section, 1943-1945, by Lane Ryo Hirabayashi and Kenichiro Shimada

"In Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi gathers a unique collection of photographs by War Relocation Authority photographer Hikaru Iwasaki, the only full-time WRA photographer from the period still living. With substantive focus on resettlement—and in particular Iwasaki's photos of Japanese Americans following their release from WRA camps from 1943 to 1945—Hirabayashi explores the WRA's use of photography in its mission not only to encourage "loyal" Japanese Americans to return to society at large as quickly as possible but also to convince Euro-Americans this was safe and advantageous. Hirabayashi also assesses the relative success of the WRA project, as well as the multiple uses of the photographs over time, first by the WRA and then by students, scholars, and community members in the present day." -- Publisher Description

Cultural Considerations in Asian and Pacific Islander American Mental Health, by Harvette Grey and Brittany Hall-Clark (eds.)

"In America's increasingly diverse society, it is imperative that mental health providers prioritize the development of their cultural competence to assure that they are equipped to meet the needs of their clients. Cultural Considerations in Asian and Pacific Islander American Mental Health offers a broad array of perspectives from clinicians and researchers actively working with racially/ethnically diverse populations. This book addresses psychosocial cultural issues that impact the mental health of the growing Asian American population." -- Publisher Description

The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination, by Jean Lau Chin (ed.)

"Spanning four volumes, the first edition of The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination provided a much-needed cornerstone work on one of the most crucial issues in the United States today. This updated and condensed edition of the award-winning set is a streamlined yet rich and insightful look at the mechanisms of prejudice and discrimination in practice. Editor Jean Chin and contributors from across the nation offer insight into how discrimination in American society is rationalized and enacted, as well as how it is experienced by diverse groups. Coverage goes beyond racism to include sexism and the plight of LGBTQ youths, as well as people with disabilities. Updates include a new introduction and conclusion presenting developments, successes, and failures in fighting prejudice and discrimination since the original set was published." -- Publisher Description

Masking Selves, Making Subjects : Japanese American Women, Identity, and the Body, by Traise Yamamoto

"This sophisticated and comprehensive study is the first to situate Japanese American women's writing within theoretical contexts that provide a means of articulating the complex relationships between language and the body, gender and agency, nationalism and identity. Through an examination of post-World War II autobiographical writings, fiction, and poetry, Traise Yamamoto argues that these writers have employed the trope of masking—textually and psychologically—as a strategy to create an alternative discursive practice and to protect the self as subject.

Yamamoto's range is broad, and her interdisciplinary approach yields richly textured, in-depth readings of a number of genres, including film and travel narrative. Looking at how the West has sexualized, infantilized, and feminized Japanese culture for over a century, she examines contemporary Japanese American women's struggle with this orientalist fantasy. Analyzing the various constraints and possibilities that these writers negotiate in order to articulate their differences, she shows how masking serves as a self-affirming discourse that dynamically interacts with mainstream culture's racial and sexual projections." -- Publisher Description

Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film, by Shilpa Davé

"Amid immigrant narratives of assimilation, Indian Accents focuses on the representations and stereotypes of South Asian characters in American film and television. Exploring key examples in popular culture ranging from Peter Sellers's portrayal of Hrundi Bakshi in the 1968 film The Party to contemporary representations such as Apu from The Simpsons and characters in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Shilpa S. Davé develops the ideas of "accent," "brownface," and "brown voice" as new ways to explore the racialization of South Asians beyond visual appearance. Davé relates these examples to earlier scholarship on blackface, race, and performance to introduce "accent" as a means of representing racial difference, national origin, and belonging, as well as distinctions of class and privilege. While focusing on racial impersonations in mainstream film and television, Indian Accents also amplifies the work of South Asian American actors who push back against brown-voice performances, showing how strategic use of accent can expand and challenge such narrow stereotypes." -- Publisher Description

Focusing on the Underserved: Immigrant, Refugee, and Indigenous Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education, by Samuel Museus, Amefil Agbayani, and Doris Ching (eds.)

"National discourse on AAPIs among educators, policymakers and AAPI communities underscores the need for more research—including more relevant research—that can inform policy and practice that will enhance educational opportunities for AAPIs who are underserved in higher education. This book focuses on diverse topics, many of which do not appear in the current literature. The chapters are authored by an array of distinguished and emerging scholars and professionals at various universities and colleges across the nation. The authors, whose insights are invaluable in understanding the diverse issues and characteristics that affect the educational success of underserved AAPI students, and they represent the ethnicities and cultures of Cambodian, Chinese, Guamanian/Chamorro, Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Native Hawaiian, Okinawan, Samoan, Vietnamese, and multiracial Americans. The authors not only integrate theoretical concepts, statistical analyses, and historical events, but they also merge theory and practice to advocate for social justice for AAPIs and other underrepresented and underserved ethnic minority groups in higher education." -- Publisher Description

Several Worlds: Reminiscences and Reflections of a Chinese-American Physician, by Monto Ho

"This fascinating book comprises the autobiographical reminiscences and reflections of Monto Ho, M.D., a Chinese-born, American physician and widely recognized infectious disease specialist. It presents a remarkable opportunity to understand his personal history, the development of his scholarly qualities, and the logic of his scientific and cultural passions. A leader in the field over the past half a century, the author was a pioneer investigator of interferon. He made major contributions to the pathogenesis of virus infections in the immunocompromised host, especially of cytomegalovirus and other herpesvirus infections in organ transplant recipients." -- Publisher Description

Madame Wu Chien-Shiung: The First Lady of Physics Research, by Caijian Jiang

"Narrating the well-lived life of the "Chinese Madame Curie" - a recipient of the first Wolf Prize in Physics (1978), the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Princeton University, as well as the first female president of the American Physics Society - this book provides a comprehensive and honest account of the life of Dr Wu Chien-Shiung, an outstanding and leading experimental physicist of the 20th century." -- Publisher Description

The Rights of My People: Liliuokalani's Enduring Battle with the United States, 1893-1917, by Neil Thomas Proto

"Queen Liliuokalani led two battles for Hawaii’s sovereignty — fighting the 1893 coup d’état and to avoid outright annexation in 1898 and, through 1910, the taking of the Crown lands by the United States, a quarter of Hawaii’s territory. The Rights of My People revisits these battles from a new perspective, against the backdrop of the harsh remnants of the Civil War, the missionary’s disquieting view of race, and the emerging role of Hawaiian women. A lawyer who has represented the interests of Hawaii, Neil Thomas Proto examines court papers and other original documents that disclose new details of this historic confrontation. Woven into the story are threats of execution and assassination and the forces of bigotry, condescension, and deception Liliuokalani confronted. She challenged the United States before Congress repeatedly for complicity in taking the Crown lands." -- Publisher Description

Anna May Wong: From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend, by Graham Russell Hodges

"Anna May Wong is, undoubtedly, the most luminous Chinese American actress ever to grace the silver screen. Between 1919 and 1960 she starred in over fifty films and shared equal billing with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Marlene Dietrich, and Warner Oland. But her life, though glamorous, is almost the prototypical story of an immigrant's difficult path through America. Graham Hodges' biography of Anna May Wong rediscovers one of Hollywood's most legendary actresses and is a must for film lovers." -- Publisher Description

Additional Resources:

If you would like further reading suggestions on this subject, please feel free to contact the librarians.