Celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Things to Read

In Canada and the United States, the month of May is meant to celebrate the history and culture of APIs. There are many Asian creatives working today in various forms of media, including literature, podcasts, television, and film. Below you’ll find a list of recommended literature from talented APIs, some you’ve heard of before and others you may not have come across until today.

The Making of Asian America

by Erika Lee

For those looking for an introduction to Asian American history and identity, Lee’s book serves as the perfect primer on the hardships and changes Asians in America have endured over the years: discrimination in education, housing, employment, and incarceration. From the journey of the first chinos from 16th century Manila to the enslavement of South Asian “coolies”, official U.S. immigration discrimination acts of 1882 and 1924, camps for Southeast Asian refugees, and more. Lee connects hundreds of years of history to highlight the development of today’s Asian American identity.


by Roy Miki

“Flow collects celebrated poet Roy Miki’s published body of work, as well as new poetry, photographs and photo collages. Miki’s reputation is that of an innovator whose work explores themes of race, class, politics, and history. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry in 2002 for the collection Surrender.” – CBC (2019)

Good Talk – A Memoir in Conversations

by Mira Jacob

Good Talk is a graphic novel that recaps Jacob’s conversation with the people in her life around identity, race, and relationships. The novel is written with humor, yet deeply relatable and heart-rending conversations that address difficult questions. One of the most captivating parts of the novel is the conversation that Jacob has with her 6-year-old son about growing up half-Jewish, half-Indian.

We Should Never Meet

by Aimee Phan

All connected by an effort to evacuate children from South Vietnam in the wake of the fall of Saigon, four Vietnamese-American orphans grow up in starkly different lives in Orange County, California. Pham’s series of eight short stories captures the cruelty, grief, denial, and alienation caused by the loss of past and homeland, but the uneasy peace that may come with reconciliation.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

by Ocean Vuong

In Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong’s poetry intertwines familiar narratives of war and refuge with contemporary life to honor the history that came before us. Vuong imbues their writing with powerful emotions and an overarching theme of loss that permeates through the entire collection of poems. Vuong explores themes of lust and sexuality, spirituality, violence, and so much more in their poems that can be read and re-read countless times with new meanings found with each reading.

The Jade Peony

by Wayson Choy

The novel features stories told by three siblings, Jook-Liang, Jung-Sum, and Sek-Lung or Sekky. Each child tells their own unique story, revealing their personal flaws and differences. Set in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the novel takes place during the 1930s and 1940s and among other events, explores the ways in which the Chinese and majority of Canadians once viewed the Japanese, especially during Japan’s occupation of China during the Second World War and in the events following Pearl Harbor.

We Are Inspiring

by Angel Trazo

“Designed for reading-with your child or for children ages 10+ to read independently, ‘We Are Inspiring’ brings to life the inspiring stories of Asian American women. This work encompasses API femmes of various ethnicities, professions, and body sizes, and is inclusive of LGBTQ folks, immigrants, and mixed-race women.” – Angel

Dear Girls

by Ali Wong

Written by stand-up comedian, actress, and writer Ali Wong, Dear Girls features letters to her daughters about everything they need to know in life – relationships, career, culture, and more. This original collection features both insightful and humorous stories that can be enjoyed by any reader. 

For more written pieces by and for the Vietnamese diaspora, follow writers and reviews from the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network and check out our VIỆT KIỀU AUTHORS Spotlight.

Additionally, take a look at literary journals such as The Brown Orient or Ricepaper, or subscribe to newsletters such as The Slant.