A Filipino American History Month Reading List

For Filipino American History Month, observed annually during the month of October, we asked our members—independent presses, literary journals, and others—to share with us some of the books and magazines they recommend reading in celebration.


: once teeth bones coral : by Kimberly Alidio

Belladonna*; August 2020

According to Anne Waldman, Alidio’s debut poetry collection is “a purring queering poem machine, a mix tape spitting forth enigmas for the tongue. Plots, struggles, like shooting stars.”




The Flayed City by Hari Alluri

Kaya Press; 2017

According to Juan Felipe Herrera, the poems in this collection contain “a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape.”




Anomaly, #30

This issue of Anomaly features writings by Filipino women, including Zeny May D. Recidoro, Floraime Oliveros Pantaleta, Daryll Delgado, and more.





All Heathens by Marianne Chan

Sarabande Books; March 2020

In this debut poetry collection, Chan “navigates her Filipino heritage by grappling with notions of diaspora, circumnavigation, and discovery.”




The Common

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, The Common has curated a reading list of work from its pages by R. Zamora Linmark, Joseph O. Legaspi, Daniella Batalion Ola, and more.





Eye of the Fish by Luis H. Francia

Kaya Press; 2001

Eye of the Fish cuts between “Francia’s recollections of the Philippines of his youth and accounts of his travels through the archipelago over the past two decades.”




Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang

Coffee House Press; 2013

In this novel for young adults, a teenage girl “leaves Manila for snowy Chicago, taking a tradition of protest—and some old family hurts—with her.”




Matadora by Sarah Gambito

Alice James Books; 2009

According to Kimiko Hahn, “The poems in Sarah Gambito’s first book, Matadora, are sheer juxtapositions of anything—starfish, Tagalog, frisson—and the friction very often adds a political dimension to the poetic.”




Documents by Jan-Henry Gray

BOA Editions; 2019

Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, this poetry collection is “rooted in the experience of living in America as a queer undocumented Filipino.”




Court of the Dragon by Paolo Javier

Nightboat Books; 2015

Javier’s poetry collection “is both intimate and elusive, a simultaneity brought to the fore by the author’s interest in the occult and intuitive processes, in oblique and plain spoken discourses.”




Drive-By Vigils by R. Zamora Linmark

Hanging Loose Press; 2011

According to Rigoberto González, the poems in this collection take “readers on a high-speed chase to the heart of ‘today’s madness,’ where Manila intersects with Hollywood.”




Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Tupelo Press; 2011

Nezhukumatathil’s fourth poetry collection is, according to Publishers Weekly, “is fascinated with the small mechanisms of being, whether natural, personal, or imagined.”




The Pilipinx Radical Imagination Reader

Philippine American Writers and Artists; 2019

Edited by Melissa-Ann Nievera-Lozano and Anthony Abulencia Santa Ana, this book is “a collection of a multiplicity of beautiful voices from the Philippine diaspora exploring visions we carry for our dynamic, intersectional communities in this historical moment.”




Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us by Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo

Bamboo Ridge Press; 2019

In this debut poetry collection, Pizo “talks about the injustice and prejudice Filipinos often encounter as migrant or immigrant workers, giving us a raw glimpse of the hardships many men and women face when they leave the Philippines and go out into the world.”




Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino & Filipino American Poetry

Coffee House Press; 1996

Edited by Nick Carbó, this anthology features poets who “return the borrowed tongue with lyrical poems about migration, immigration, exile, nostalgia, desire, poverty, exploitation, racism, American culture, love, and invisibility.”




Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes

BOA Editions; September 2020

Reyes’s latest poetry collection “answers the questions of Filipino American girls and young women of color with bold affirmations of hard-won empathy, fierce intelligence, and a fine-tuned B.S. detector.”




The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

Restless Books; 2019

Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Talusan’s memoir “powerfully explores the fraught contours of her own life as a Filipino immigrant and survivor of cancer and childhood abuse.”




Blood Orange by Angela Narciso Torres

Willow Books; 2013

A Willow Books Literature Awards Grand Prize Winner for Poetry, Torres’s poetry collection is “part memoir, part love letter to the Philippines of her youth.”



What Happens Is Neither by Angela Narciso Torres

Four Way Books; 2021

Forthcoming in early 2021, Torres’s next poetry collection is a “deeply-sensorial reflection on presence, absence, and the act of losing.”



We Are No Longer Babaylan by Elsa Valmidiano

New Rivers Press; November 2020

This debut collection of essays “explores the impact of colonialist patriarchal societies on the lives and beliefs of those from a spiritual, matriarchal society.”




The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings by José García Villa

Kaya Press; 1999

This selection of Villa’s writings “both recovers and rediscovers the work of this fierce iconoclast for a new generation” and includes essays from several contemporary Filipino and Filipino American writers.