Reading List: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

As part of our calendar celebrating national heritage months and observances, explore these selected works that speak to Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. 

 

"Study of Crabs in Water" by Chou Shen, a fifteenth century Chinese ink painting showing three gray crabs, one of which rests on dirt near a sprouting fern. Vertical Chinese text is in the top right corner of the image, and the bottom left corner has been stamped with a red seal

Chou Shen, Study of Crabs in Water, 15th Century. Ink and some color on paper. Courtesy of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

 

Poetry

  • Set in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, “Pow-Wow at Thomas Square” (Issue 20), by Delaina Thomas touches on the heartache of loss and an unseen ancestral homeland.
  • In “Providence,” a poetic dispatch, Darien Hsu Gee explores the nature of her home in Waimea and reflects on her Chinese heritage, colonial histories of Hawai’i, and making a home for herself, her children, and her identity in this place. 
  • Joss,” a dispatch from Yunnan Province, China by Patricia Liu, traces a ritual and the historical and personal meaning of its parts, where the metaphysical and spiritual align with physical symbols and shift into one another.

 

Fiction

    • In Angela F. Qian’s short story “Wild Oranges,” the taste of orange marmalade in a Japanese bakery has a complicated resonance.
    • Talia Lakshmi Kolluri’s Issue 21 story “The Good Donkey,” narrated from the perspective of the titular animal, offers a nonhuman perspective on violence in Israel-Palestine. Listen to Kolluri discuss this story and more in her podcast interview with managing editor Emily Everett.
    • “The Old Man in the Cottage,” an excerpt from Feroz Rather’s debut novel The Night of Broken Glass, is one of the novel’s many recollections of insurgency in Kashmir. Rather discusses the novel in this interview with Neha Kirpal.


Essays

  • In “CoastlinesTeow Lim Goh reflects on the stories and poetry of the Chinese immigrants who passed through Angel Island. 
  • In “Project for a Trip to China” (Issue 16), Lisa Chen reflects on her own experiences in relation to Susan Sontag’s life and writings, particularly concerning China and her father. 
  • In “Cease-fireStephanie Minyoung Lee recounts a trip to South Korea, describing present and past through ordinary streets, an old palace, and the DMZ that still divides the country in two.
  • In “The MapmakerKaren Kao travels to Shanghai and imagines her family “mapmaker,” now living in Pennsylvania, tracing and guiding the way home from an ocean away.
  • Set in Kaua’i, Hawai’i, Danielle Batalion Ola’s debut essay, “The Idle Talk of Mothers and Daughters” (Issue 18), traces the contours of a complicated relationship, as mother and daughter “talk story” over McDonald’s breakfast platters. 
  • In “Split Me in Two” by Celeste Mohammed, Kamala Harris’s rise to power provides a springboard for Mohammed to explore mixed race identity and its associated challenges and joys, as she probes the enduring legacy of slavery and “judging human beings by their standard deviation from whiteness,” both in the West Indies and the US.
  • In “Notes on Camp: 2020,” Val Wang reflects on belonging and otherness and the utopian dreams and harsh realities both of summer camps and of living in America; in “Welcome to the Future,” Wang recounts a futuristic lunch in Beijing.
  • In “Ends of the Earth & Edges of Dream” (Issue 17) Pibulsak Lakonpol recounts the experience of visiting a slum in Thailand, and meditates on borders, migration, and a common humanity (translated by Noh Anothai).
  • Allen Gee captures the shifting culture of the Chinatown of his grandfather, his father, and his own youth in his vivid essay, “Vanishing Chinatown.” 

 

Interviews

 

Reading List: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage