A Reading List for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 2023

For Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, observed annually during the month of May, we asked our members presses and literary magazines to share some of the literature by Asian American and Pacific Islander American writers they recommend reading in celebration. (Learn more about Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.)




Manifest by Cynthia Arrieu-King 

Switchback Books | 2013

According to Laura Cronk, the poems in this collection are “cosmopolitan, full of wilderness, immensely attentive, and dangerously funny.”




All Heathens by Marianne Chan

Sarabande Books | 2020

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




The Trees Witness Everything by Victoria Chang

Copper Canyon Press | 2022

In this poetry collection largely composed in various Japanese syllabic forms called “wakas,” Chang “reinvigorates language by way of concentration, using constraint to illuminate and free the wild interior.”




A Half-Life by David S. Cho

CavanKerry Press | 2022

Cho’s poetry collection “provides a rare glimpse into the cultures of Asian America, particularly the Korean immigrant and Korean American experiences.”




I Used to Be Korean by Jiwon Choi

Hanging Loose Press | 2021

According to Terence Winch, this collection is full of “sharp-tongued poems, often levitating on their own buoyant wit” and “propelled by New York immigrant energy, which of course makes it quintessentially American.”




Each Crumbling House by Melody S. Gee

Perugia Press | 2010

In Each Crumbling House, Gee “asks about inheriting a language that isn’t hers and a culture that died during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, while she tangles with the loss of her mother’s culture, food, history, and home.”




Manatee Lagoon by Jenna Le

Acre Books | 2022

In her third poetry collection, Le “sheds light on the experience of being the daughter of Vietnamese refugees in today’s sometimes tense and hostile America.”




Rose Is a Verb: Neo-Georgics by Karen An-Hwei Lee

Slant Books | 2021

In this collection Lee, “inspired by Virgil, has created her own dense, richly-layered collection of ‘Neo-Georgics,’ constituting an extended exploration of such motifs as happiness, olive groves, vineyards, soil chemistries, the seacoast, and the birth of trees.”




Threshold by Joseph O. Legaspi

CavanKerry Press | 2017

Legaspi’s poetry collection “celebrates various courageous outsets across boundaries—bodily, filial, marital, even biblical.”




Bianca by Eugenia Leigh

Four Way Books | 2023

In this poetry collection, Leigh “strives to reconcile the disconnect between her past and her present as she confronts the inherited violence mired in the body’s history.”




Map of an Onion by Kenji C. Liu

Inlandia Institute | 2016

In these poems, “family history structures, and is structured by, histories of migration, colonialism, and violence, yet Liu finds in the interstices of those structures a space of profoundly personal exploration.”




[and time erodes like thunder] by Zoë Luh

Assure Press | 2020

In her debut poetry collection, Luh “powerfully chronicles one mixed-race, Chinese-American’s emotional response to the trauma experienced in her family.”




The Proscenium by Vi Khi Nao

Ugly Duckling Presse | 2019

This poetry collection “is a satire on production and feminism and acts as an antithetical or opposition to male’s prolixity on the canvas of literary canon.”




Cleave by Tiana Nobile

Hub City Press | 2021

In her debut collection, Nobile “grapples with the history of transnational adoption, both her own from South Korea and the broader, collective experience.”




nature felt but never apprehended by Angela Peñaredondo

Noemi Press | 2023

Peñaredondo’s collection “synthesizes poetry, lyric prose, fragmented creative nonfiction, and visual art,” voyaging “through the junctures of gender and environmental injustices, and its connections between Philippines’ histories of foreign invasions and intimacies of survivorhood.




Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire by Michelle Peñaloza

Inlandia Institute | 2019

This debut poetry collection “explores questions of grief and violence, and negotiates loss across landscapes and spans of time.”




Habitat Threshold by Craig Santos Perez

Omnidawn | 2020

Perez’s poetry collection “explores his ancestry as a native Pacific Islander, the ecological plight of his homeland, and his fears for the future.”




Latitude by Natasha Rao

Copper Canyon Press | 2021

The poems in Rao’s debut collection “explore the complexities of family, cultural identity, and coming of age.”




West by Paisley Rekdal

Copper Canyon Press | 2023

This hybrid collection of poems and essays “draws a powerful, necessary connection between the railroad’s completion and the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882–1943).”




Instrument by Dao Strom

Fonograf Editions | 2020

This collection “is an experiment in multimodal poetics—inhabiting a synergistic blend of poetry, music, and visual art: the artist’s three forms of ‘voice.’”




Because I Love You, I Become War by Eileen Tabios

Marsh Hawk Press | 2023

According to E. San Juan, Jr., this collection of poems and prose “weaves the semiotic subtleties of icon, index, and symbol into epiphanies and discoveries that are, indeed, new additions to our world as we know it so far.”




Proof of Stake by Charles Valle

Fonograf Editions | 2021

This debut collection focuses “on immigration, colonialism, and the death of the speaker’s infant daughter.”




Yellow Rain by Mai Der Vang

Graywolf Press | 2021

A finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize, this poetry collection is “a reinvestigation of chemical biological weapons dropped on the Hmong people in the fallout of the Vietnam War.”




When I Reach for Your Pulse by Rushi Vyas

Four Way Books | 2023

In this debut collection, “lyric works to untangle slippery personal and political histories in the wake of a parent’s suicide.”




My Name Is Immigrant by Wang Ping

Hanging Loose Press | 2021

Wang’s latest poetry collection is a “song for the plight and pride of immigrants around the globe.”




From From by Monica Youn

Graywolf Press | 2023

In this collection, “one sequence deconstructs the sounds and letters of the word ‘deracinations’ to create a sonic landscape of micro- and macroaggressions, assimilation, and self-doubt,” and a personal essay “explores the racial positioning of Asian Americans and the epidemic of anti-Asian hate.”





Submarine by Anurag Andra

Split Lip Press | 2022

Submarine “tells the coming-of-age story of Subramaniam, a second-generation immigrant of Indian descent, exploring what it means to make a life in a country both insular and boundless, where dreams of home and worlds beyond and all that lies between are conceived, morphed, killed, and reborn.”




Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au

Acre Books | 2019

The characters in these seventeen stories “endeavor to create new worlds that honor their identities and their Chinese heritage.”




Beauty by Christina Chiu

Santa Fe Writers Project | 2020

According to Helen Benedict, this is “a fast-paced, sexy novel about growing up, making mistakes and learning from them, written in a defiant, witty prose.”




Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho 

Small Beer Press | 2021

Winner of the 2022 Ray Bradbury Prize from the L.A. Times Book Prizes, this collection features “nineteen sparkling stories that weave between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead.”




The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti

Hub City Press | 2021

Enjeti’s debut novel “is a heartfelt and human portrait of the long shadow of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent on the lives of three generations.”




A World Between by Emily Hashimoto

Feminist Press | 2020

In Hashimoto’s debut novel, “a college fling between two women turns into a lifelong connection—and spells out a new kind of love story for a millennial, immigrant America.”




Seasons of Purgatory by Shahriar Mandanipour

Translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili

Bellevue Literary Press | 2022

In this short fiction collection, “the fantastical and the visceral merge in tales of tender desire and collective violence, the boredom and brutality of war, and the clash of modern urban life and rural traditions.”




Death of a Circus by Chandra Prasad

Red Hen Press | 2006

This novel “tells the story of the Bringlebright Circus, a small fictional troupe traveling the United States in the early twentieth century, an era when circuses are falling out of favor and only the largest shows are enduring.”




The Sorrows of Others by Ada Zhang

A Public Space Books | 2023

The Sorrows of Others is a short story collection “about people confronted with being outsiders—as immigrants, as revolutionaries, and even, often, within their own families.”







An Asian American A to Z: A Children’s Guide to Our History by Cathy Linh Che and Kyle Lucia Wu

Haymarket Books | 2023

Illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran, this picture book is “a comprehensive and spirited exploration of Asian American history–its movements, cultures, and key figures–beautifully illustrated and compellingly told for readers of all ages.”




So Many Olympic Exertions by Anelise Chen 

Kaya Press | 2017

This experimental debut novel—by a recipient of the National Book Award Foundation’s Best 5 under 35 award—blends “elements of self-help, memoir, and sports writing” into “a personal handbook on ‘how to live.’”




Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho

Feminist Press | 2021

This debut memoir is “a hybrid text about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia.”




My Chinese-America by Allen Gee

Santa Fe Writers Project | 2015

In these essays, Gee explores “how Asian-Americans view themselves in light of America’s insensitivities, stereotypes, and expectations.”




Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time by Natalie Hodges

Bellevue Literary Press | 2022

Concert solo violinist Hodges “traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined.”




Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm by David Mas Masumoto

Red Hen Press | 2023

Illustrated by Patricia Miye Wakida, this memoir uncovers “family secrets that bind us to a sense of history buried in the earth that we work and a sense of place that defines us.”




Navigating the Divide by Linda Watanabe McFerrin

Alan Squire Publishing | 2019

This multi-genre collection “sets out to attempt its namesake, to ‘navigate the divide’–between spiritual and physical, between thought and desire, between individual and collective.”




O by Tammy Nguyen

Ugly Duckling Presse | 2022

This memoir is a “many-threaded narrative” that “sounds the depths of personal, mineral, and geopolitical histories of Vietnam.”





Guess and Check by Thaddeus Rutkowski

Gival Press | 2022

This memoir is “a creative look at the life of a biracial boy—later seen as a young man—who adjusts with difficulty to lessons learned from the behavior of his parents and the people around him.”





Beyond Lowu Bridge by Roy Cheng Tsung

Passager Books | 2014

This memoir “chronicles Roy Cheng Tsung’s 20 years in Communist China, after having spent his first 12 years growing up as a typical American boy in New York City.”





Literary Magazines


“34D” by Dorothy Chan

Cincinnati Review | 2022

This poem begins, “Like the apartment number you memorize. Like your favorite item on the lunch menu.”




“solarpunk” by Jonathan Chan

New Note Poetry | 2022

This poem begins, “where the sun first lands, / eyes kept sharp for an inscription / of shade, day by week by…”




“Antisocial Social Club” by Michael Chang

Cincinnati Review | 2022

This poem begins, “banish the word offering—i prefer payment / ur likes are insincere / at dream state university…”




“Gretel” by Hedgie Choi

The Hopkins Review | 2023

This short story begins, “I called a friend and asked to be picked up from Home Depot, where I’d spent all afternoon pushing my cart through the gardening section, picking up whatever looked sturdy and useful.”




“A Wolf’s Heart” by O Thiam Chin

Vita Poetica | 2023

This story begins, “The boy was told not to touch anything. And so far, he hadn’t touched anything he wasn’t curious about in the two rooms he had walked into.”




Two Poems by Kimiko Hahn

The Hopkins Review | 2022

The poem “Starting with Eye, Long, And, Down, Wall, and Shelf” begins, “Who invented the shelf / and did they identify need / or eyeball nature—say a low tide— / that sparked a longing?”




“Spoons” by Karen Kao

Tahoma Literary Review | 2022

This story begins, “Quail eggs nestle inside a cedar box on a bed of shaved wood chips. Yeonsoo likes her eggs to feel at home until she boils them to death.”




“halmoni (grandma)” by Erin Kim

SWWIM | 2022

This poem begins, “crescent moons fall from my silver clipper / with faint clicks, building a pyre / on warm ondol floorboards.”




“I Wake up to the News” by Xiaoly Li

SWWIM | 2023

This poem begins, “A photo on my cellphone—a mother holding her newborn baby / whose head is wrapped in gauze.”




“Sapphic Fragment 41” by Angie Sijun Lou

128 Lit | 2023

This poem begins, “Each day I am faced with / a choice: catharsis is a private act, conceal or disclose, both / ways end with…”




“I Am a Bombay on the Move” by Diane Mehta

Paper Brigade | 2019

This essay begins, “I didn’t know I was Jew­ish until my fam­i­ly left India in 1973 and my moth­er signed me up for Sun­day school at the local syn­a­gogue in New Jer­sey.”




“Kokoro Yasume” by Mia Nakaji Monnier

Exposition Review | 2019

This essay begins, “The ghosts sit on the bookshelf beside my desk, wild-haired, wearing silk. I look at their faces, a kabuki brand of comic sternness, hoping they’ll tell me something, knowing they can’t.”




“Eating Bone” by Shabnam Nadiya

Raleigh Review | 2011

This flash fiction begins, “Disha hadn’t walked out of the house in anger, she never did. She waited until some time had passed, wrapped her sari around herself neatly, pulled her hair into the accustomed knot (though tighter than usual), checked her purse and mumbled something about going to see her tailor.”




“Hindi Class, 1971” by Meera Parasuraman

New Note Poetry | 2022

This poem begins, “My pencil is poised / over a wastebasket / I’m sharpening it with a half-blade…”




Reading List: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

The Common

This reading list features “selected works that speak to Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage,” including poetry by Darien Hsu Gee, fiction by Cleo Qian, and nonfiction by Stephanie Minyoung Lee.




“Pa’ Huele” by Alfonso Sito Sasieta

Vita Poetica | 2023

This poem begins, “My hermeneutics are consistently poor / & whether I am reading the Word / or dowsing my head below…”




“Hunger” by Qian Julie Wang

Paper Brigade | 2021

This essay begins, “I approached my first Yom Kip­pur with trep­i­da­tion. It was not the idea of atone­ment that I feared, but the prospect of fast­ing, of choos­ing to go hun­gry.”




“Disorientation” by Jessica Yuan

Tahoma Literary Review | 2020

This poem begins, “If I make it this far. / If I make it home to the sublet / with styrofoam paneling the shower / and five women hiding the hotplate.”




“Unstable Relationship” by Lucy Zhang

Exposition Review | 2022

This flash fiction begins, “We’re making papier-mâché birds in art class, ripping strips of newspaper and smearing glue over our fingers.”