May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Higher education institutions typically celebrate in April and May. After a year of numerous highs and firsts, even in the midst of an uptick of hate crimes, the community has continued to press forward and fight for justice. SMU Libraries is partnering with the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement to bring you a series of three reading lists to serve as an avenue for everyone to learn, engage, and appreciate the culture.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden’s raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.
The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli
On a small, unnamed coral atoll in the South Pacific, a group of troubled dreamers must face the possibility that the hopes they’ve labored after so single-mindedly might not lead them to the happiness they feel they were promised. Ann and Richard, an aspiring, Los Angeles power couple, are already sensing the cracks in their version of the American dream when their life unexpectedly implodes, leading them to brashly run away from home to a Robinson Crusoe idyll. Dex Cooper, lead singer of the rock band, Prospero, is facing his own slide from greatness, experimenting with artistic asceticism while accompanied by his sexy, young, and increasingly entrepreneurial muse, Wende. Loren, the French owner of the resort sauvage, has made his own Gauguin-like retreat from the world years before, only to find that the modern world has become impossible to disconnect from. Titi, descendent of Tahitian royalty, worker, and eventual inheritor of the resort, must fashion a vision of the island’s future that includes its indigenous people, while her partner, Cooked, is torn between anarchy and lust.
On Earth We’re briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
There is an immediacy to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous that almost feels unique. The author Ocean Vuong was first published as a poet, and the poetry in this novel—present in the language, in the images and ideas—is unforgettable. The narrator is a young man in his late twenties, nicknamed Little Dog by his family, who is composing a long letter to his Vietnamese mother. Little Dog and his family grew up poor in Hartford, Connecticut, but their struggles do not end there. His mother still carries the burden of the war, as does his grandmother, and Little Dog’s struggles reach not only back to the traumas of Vietnam but forward in his efforts to fit in to a world that sees him as other. Eventually, he does find some solace in an ill-fated relationship with an older “redneck” boy, but that is only temporary. What is permanent is his desire to write, and of course his family. Vuong almost seems to be trying to super inject imagery, emotion, and language into every page, and to great effect; but no writer can reach absolute perfection. There are soaring moments in this novel, many of them. There will also be moments (although they will disagree on which ones) where readers feel that the writing fails. That’s how great art is made.—Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders 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.
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Our Voices, Our Histories: Asian American and Pacific Islander Women by Shirley Hune and Gail M. M. Nomura
Our Voices, Our Histories brings together thirty-five Asian American and Pacific Islander authors in a single volume to explore the historical experiences, perspectives, and actions of Asian American and Pacific Islander women in the United States and beyond.
This volume is unique in exploring Asian American and Pacific Islander women’s lives along local, transnational, and global dimensions. The contributions present new research on diverse aspects of Asian American and Pacific Islander women’s history, from the politics of language, to the role of food, to experiences as adoptees, mixed race, and second generation, while acknowledging shared experiences as women of color in the United States.
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet in their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn’t tell anyone she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe.
Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is drawn into a secretive cult founded by a charismatic former student with an enigmatic past. When the group commits a violent act in the name of faith, Will finds himself struggling to confront a new version of the fanaticism he’s worked so hard to escape. Haunting and intense, The Incendiaries is a fractured love story that explores what can befall those who lose what they love most.
Extraordinary Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by Susan Sinnott
Biographical sketches of notable Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans, from the nineteenth century up to the present, offer a broad perspective on some of the people and events that shape our world.
Girls of the Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel monarch wasn’t the culmination of her destiny — it was just the beginning. Now Lei, with a massive bounty on her head, must travel the kingdom with her warrior love Wren to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans.
Meanwhile, a plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy, or will she succumb to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her bond with Wren, and their very lives?
Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American History and Culture by Gary Y. Okihiro
In this classic book on the meaning of multiculturalism in larger American society, Gary Okihiro explores the significance of Asian American experiences from the perspectives of historical consciousness, race, gender, class, and culture.
While exploring anew the meanings of Asian American social history, Okihiro argues that the core values and ideals of the nation emanate today not from the so-called mainstream but from the margins, from among Asian and African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, women, and the gay and lesbian community. Those groups in their struggles for equality, have helped to preserve and advance the founders’ ideals and have made America a more democratic place for all.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Acclaimed novelist Quan Barry delivers a tour de female force in this delightful novel. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography—from Heathers to “big hair”—Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.
Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.
South Asian American Experiences in Schools by Punita Chhabra Rice
This book tells the stories of South Asian Americans in K-12 schools, through a look at their perceptions, experiences, and support needs in school, especially in context of teacher cultural proficiency and belief in “the model minority myth” (the perception of Asians as the perfect minority). This book mixes stories, quotes, and anecdotes with quantitative research in order to paint a multifaceted picture of the varied and complex experiences of Asian Americans in schools. The book examines existing scholarly and popular literature to offer deeper context, and to provide guidance for how educators, policymakers, and the community might improve experiences for South Asian American, and all students, in increasingly diverse schools.