A Reading List for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and Beyond

This May, and year-round, were excited to share a selection of titles for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month published by our member presses—including poetry collections, novels, plays, and memoirs by Asian American and Pacific American writers, as well as several books translated into English for the first time. Browse this list on Bookshop.


The Migrant States by Indran Amirthanayagam

Hanging Loose Press; May 2020

The poems in Amirthanayagam’s new poetry collection are, according to Terence Winch, “hellos and goodbyes, obituaries, salutations, and celebrations addressed to his children, his friends and heroes.”



Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au

Acre Books; 2019

Longlisted for the 2020 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, this book of short fiction explores characters who endeavor to create new worlds that honor their identities and their Chinese heritage.


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.”



OBIT by Victoria Chang

Copper Canyon Press; April 2020

According to Rick Barot, Chang’s new poetry collection “marshals all the resources of poetry against the relentless emotional cascade that’s associated with death,” arriving “at a kind of momentary stalemate against that cascade.”



DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi

Wave Books; April 2020

This poetry collection, which incorporates poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, “is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts.”


You + Me Forever by Valerie Hsiung

Action Books; April 2020

Hsiung’s second poetry collection “performs a multitude of teetering voices through a multitude of tangency points… all while the dark angel of the circus hovers above like a shadow on the page.”


Whale and Vapor by Kim Myung Ju

Black Ocean; April 2020

In this poetry collection, translated by Jake Levine, the poet “playfully turns toward the lyric in this work as a way to reconcile himself with the contemporary world by engaging in dialogue with his Korean literary ancestry.”


Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Europa Editions; April 2020

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, Kawakami’s first novel to be published in English “paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties.”


Paper Sons by Dickson Lam

Autumn House Press; 2018

According to Alison Hawthorne Deming, Lam’s book “combines memoir and cultural history, the quest for an absent father and the struggle for social justice, naming traditions in graffiti and in Chinese culture.”


Suicide Forest by Haruna Lee

53rd State Press; 2019

Lee’s bilingual play, which was a New York Times Critic’s Pick, is set in 1990s Japan and written to be performed by a Japanese heritage cast. It explores “the silence and submissiveness often associated with Japanese and Japanese American identity” as well as “questions of emotional, psychic and social suicide.”

Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok

Kaya Press; 2019

Winner of the 2020 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award, Lok’s literary debut is “an eye-opening story collection about the intimate, interconnected lives of diasporic women and the histories they are born into.”


Habitat Threshold by Craig Santos Perez

Omnidawn; April 2020

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



A Fish Growing Lungs by Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn

Burrow Press; June 2020

These linked essays follow a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder and its consequences in, according to Dinty W. Moore, an “intimate, vulnerable, and entirely spellbinding exploration of addiction, identity, and one writer’s struggle to become whole.”



Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey

Akashic Books; June 2020

Sharkey’s debut novel “dispels the myths surrounding transracial adoption, the ties that bind, and what it means to belong.”



I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara by Lalbihari Sharma

Kaya Press; 2019

Originally published in India in 1916 and translated by Rajiv Mohabir, this collection of spiritual songs is “the only known literary work written by an indentured servant in the Anglophone Caribbean.”


Sight Lines by Arthur Sze

Copper Canyon Press; 2019

Winner of the 2019 National Book Award, Sze’s tenth poetry collection “moves through space and time and brings the disparate and divergent into stunning and meaningful focus.”


The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer by Eric Tran

Autumn House Press; March 2020

In this debut poetry collection, selected by Stacey Waite as the winner of the 2019 Rising Writer Contest, Tran “contends with the aftermath of a close friend’s suicide while he simultaneously explores the complexities of being a gay man of color.”


My Name Is Immigrant by Wang Ping

Hanging Loose Press; May 2020

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



Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita

Coffee House Press; May 2020

In this collection of short stories, Yamashita “transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance—familial, cultural, emotional, artistic—really means.”