Asian Voices Fiction

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Call# Fiction Murata

"An international sensation that has sold more than a million copies in Japan and was named a Best Book of the Year by U.S. publications from Buzzfeed to the New Yorker, Convenience Store Woman is the charming and unforgettable story of Tokyo sales clerk Keiko Furukura. Keiko is an unusual person, someone who has never fit in, but when she takes a job at a 'Smile Mart' she finally finds peace and purpose in her daily tasks. But there is huge pressure on Keiko--to pursue a career, to find a husband--and she feels forced to take desperate action in order to please the people around her instead of herself. Is there room in this 'normal' world for someone as strange as Keiko?"--Publisher description.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Call# Fiction Kwan

Envisioning a summer vacation in the humble Singapore home of a boy she hopes to marry, Chinese American Rachel Chu is unexpectedly introduced to a rich and scheming clan that strongly opposes their son's relationship with an American girl.

The Island of Sea Women : a Novel by Lisa See

Call# Fiction See

"A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island. Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village's all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook's mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook's differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point. This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story--one of women's friendships and the larger forces that shape them--The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives"--
"A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island"--

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Call# Fiction Murakami

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami’s novel is at once a classic quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Call# Fiction Kim

"Margot Lee's mother isn't returning her calls. It's a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown and finds her mother dead under suspicious circumstances. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the facts of Mina's life as a Korean War orphan and undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother"--Amazon.

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

Call# Fiction Ho

"At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream: She has a successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore's hottest clubs and restaurants. All she has to do is make partner at her law firm and she will have achieved everything she's worked for. And if she's about to become the lone unmarried member of her generation in the Tang clan--a disappointment her meddling Chinese-Malaysian family won't let her forget--well, who needs a husband, anyway? Yet being the Last Tang Standing sends Andrea into a tailspin she wasn't expecting--and, for the first time, she begins to question the life she thought she wanted. When a chance encounter with handsome, wealthy entrepreneur Eric Deng offers her a glimpse of a future more lavish than she could have imagined, Andrea decides that giving Mr. Right-for-her-family a chance might not be so bad after all. So why can't she stop thinking about Suresh Aditparan, her annoyingly attractive office rival and the last man her relatives would approve of? With a battle waging between her head and her heart, Andrea can't help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?"--

The Mountains Sing : a Novel by Phan QùðΜ Mai Nguỳ¬іn

Call# Fiction Nguyn

"The multigenerational tale of the Trà̂n family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trà̂n Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that will tear not just her beloved country but her family apart"--

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Call# Fiction Vuong

"Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. 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"--

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Call# Fiction Lee

"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity"--

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Call# Fiction Nguyen

Follows a Viet Cong agent as he spies on a South Vietnamese army general and his compatriots as they start a new life in 1975 Los Angeles.

Asian Voices Nonfiction

Daughters of the Samurai : a Journey From East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura

Call# 952.03 Nim

"'Surprising and richly satisfying' (Megan Marshall); 'Beautifully crafted...subtle, polished, and poised' (Stacy Schiff); In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan. Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, three of these unusual ambassadors--Sutematsu Yamakawa, Shige Nagai, and Ume Tsuda--grew up as typical American schoolgirls. Upon their arrival in San Francisco they became celebrities, their travels feted by newspapers across the nation. The passionate friendships they formed reveal an intimate world of cross-cultural fascination and connection. Ten years later, they returned to Japan--a land grown foreign to them--determined to revolutionize women's education. Based on in-depth archival research in Japan and in the United States, Daughters of the Samurai is beautifully, cinematically written, a fascinating lens through which to view an extraordinary historical moment"--Provided by publisher.

Escape From Camp 14 : One Man's Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Call# 365.45 Har

Twenty-six years ago, Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside Camp 14, one of five sprawling political prisons in the mountains of North Korea. This is the gripping, terrifying story of his escape from this no-exit prison-- to freedom in South Korea.

Falling Leaves : the True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

Call# 921 Mah

Born in 1937 in a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.

A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl’s journey into adulthood, Adeline’s story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China.

First They Killed My Father : a Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung

Call#

One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed. Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.

The Girl With Seven Names : a North Korean Defector's Story by Hyeonseo Lee

Call# 951.93 Lee

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

Last Boat Out of Shanghai : the Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao's Revolution by Helen Zia

Call# 951.042 Zia

"The dramatic, real-life stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China's 1949 Communist Revolution--a precursor to the struggles faced by emigrants today. Shanghai has historically been China's jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao's proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war. Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled in every direction. Seventy years later, the last generation to fully recall this massive exodus have opened the story to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia, who interviewed hundreds of exiles about their journey through one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. From these moving accounts, Zia weaves the story of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S. Young Benny, who as a teenager became the unwilling heir to his father's dark wartime legacy, must choose between escaping Hong Kong or navigating the intricacies of a newly Communist China. The resolute Annuo, forced to flee her home with her father, a defeated Nationalist official, becomes an unwelcome young exile in Taiwan. The financially strapped Ho fights deportation in order to continue his studies in the U.S. while his family struggles at home. And Bing, given away by her poor parents, faces the prospect of a new life among strangers in America" --

Minor Feelings : an Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Call# 921 Hong

"Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition--if such a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong's theory of "minor feelings." As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality--when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. With sly humor and a poet's searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche--and of a writer's search to both uncover and speak the truth"--

Nothing to Envy : Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Call# 306.095 Dem

In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

The Woman Warrior : Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

Call# 921 Kingston

A memoir of the American-born daughter of Chinese immigrants who lived within the traditions and fears of the Chinese past as well as the realities of the alien modern American culture.

Without You, There Is No Us : My Time With the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim

Call# 921 Kim

A haunting account of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign.

Asian Voices Young Adult

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

Call# Y Pan

After her mother's suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.

Banned Book Club by Hyun Sook Kim

Call# Y Kim

"The autobiography of a South Korean woman's student days under an authoritarian regime, and how she defied state censorship. When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family's restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined. This was during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in. In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading."--

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Call# Y Ribay

When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, he flies to the Philippines to learn more.

Reflection : a Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim

Call# Y Twi

When Captain Shang is mortally wounded by Shan Yu in battle, Mulan must travel to the Underworld, Diyu, in order to save him from certain death. But King Yama, the ruler of Diyu, is not willing to give Shang up easily.

Sachiko : a Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Barzelay Stelson

Call# Y 940.542 Ste

Tells the story of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki through the eyes of Sachiko Yasui, who was six when the devastation was wrought, describing her experiences in the aftermath of the attack as well as her long journey to find peace.

Asian Voices DVD Recommendations

Crazy Rich Asians

Call# DVD Comedy Cra

A native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend2s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick2s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country's wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors.

The Farewell

Call# DVD Comedy Far

Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there's a lot to celebrate.

Searching

Call# DVD Drama Sea

After David Kim's sixteen-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter's laptop. David must trace his daughter's digital footprints before she disappears forever.

More Asian Voices Recommendations

Resources

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice is an affiliation of five organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans.

  • The Asian American Toolkit is a project hosted by Asian American Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment, which is a California statewide formation whose purpose is to advance state politics, campaigns and other issues that support low-income AAPIs by building statewide AAPI civic engagement infrastructure and serving as a resource for emerging AAPI organizations. The downloadable toolkit contains racial justice workshops, information on organizations, and other resources.

  • The Asian Pacific American Heritage Association (APAHA) was formed in Houston in 1992 with the mission to recognize and promote awareness and increase understanding of Asian American and Pacific Islander culture, diversity, and accomplishments through education and celebration.

Podcasts

  • Model Majority Podcast – A podcast about politics, culture, and life through the eyes of two Asian-American grassroots organizers–former members of (a lot of) political campaigns, the Obama White House, Department of Commerce, the DNC, and currently in tech and Hollywood.

  • Rice to Meet You –  A comedy podcast about Asian culture that’s accessible to everyone! Join UK-based comedians Nigel Ng and Evelyn Mok as they talk to notable guests about the modern Asian experience.