The year in Asian American & Pacific Islander fiction

Each May, in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we take a look at the past year’s novels and short stories from AAPI authors. You’ll find the full list of recent AAPI fiction here. To get you started, here are some highlights from this year’s list:

The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang. When Big Leo – founder of Fine Chao, the best Chinese food in Haven, Wisconsin – dies under mysterious circumstances, suspicion falls on his three variosly assimilated sons, James, Ming and Dagou, in a perceptive and poignant Chinese-American rendition of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

Nuclear Family, by Joseph Han. What – or who – possessed Korean Hawaiian Jacob Cho to attempt to cross over into North Korea? Back home at their Honolulu plate lunch restaurant, rumors fly that he must be a spy – a suspicion that seems all too true when on January 13, 2018, sirens suddenly blare, (falsely) alerting the island to a rain of incoming ballistic missiles.

Circa, by Devi S. Laskar.  Coming of age in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bengali-American teenager Heera Sanyal feels the American Dream slip from her grasp when her best friend is killed by a drunk driver, leaving her both trapped and solaced by the clasp of her family’s traditions.

Auē, by Becky Manawatu. It is a cry of dismay, or distress, and for Taukiri, “auē” is almost a kind of music, telling of his traumatic upbringing, and calling out towards a hope that things might someday get better. This award-winning new novel sings with raw, lyrical power of the contemporary Maori experience.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key: A Secret Staircase Mystery, by Gigi Pandian. In this delightfully quirky locked-room mystery series debut, out-of-work Las Vegas magician Tempest Raj stumbles over the corpse of her stage double, and it seems the only answer lies in a family curse that claimed her own mother’s life – or did it?

The Verifiers, by Jane Pek. Claudia Lin’s detective work is confined to checking up on the veracity of online dating profiles, until one of her clients suddenly turns out to be an imposter, and then turns up dead, and the mystery buff can’t resist jumping in with both feet.

The Immortal King Rao, by Vari Vauhini. Did Athena’s billionaire father escape from his doomed existence as Dalit, on the lowest run of India’s caste system, only to perpetuate and perfect those same social inequities when he struck it rich in Seattle’s heady tech scene? A thought provoking dystopian thriller.

Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo. When budding starlet Luli Wei discovers that the Hollywood studio system is an predatory gothic nightmare, there is only one solution: she must become the biggest monster of them all.

To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara. Spanning three centuries from 1893 to 1993 and 2093, this ambitious epic explores our quest for love and fulfillment against a steadily darkening backdrop of isolation, xenophobia and ecological decline.

We’ve just scratched the surface here, so check out our full list of recent AAPI fiction here.

     ~ Posted by David W.

Reading Ukraine: History, Memoir and Literature

Whenever conflicts erupt on the world stage, we can count on our patrons to head to their local library to find out more. When it comes to the current conflict in Ukraine, whether you prefer the objectivity of history and political analysis, the more subjective personal experiences of those involved, or the imaginative capacity of fiction to capture essential truths, you’ll find something of interest in our new list of books centered on Ukrainian history and life. Here are just a few of the diverse titles you’ll find there:

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, by Serhii Plokhy. Spanning from the Neanderthals to the Ukrainian Revolution and Russian backlash of 2014, Harvard professor Plokhy presents a nuanced, authoritative history of an embattled region whose conquerors have included Huns, Vikings, Mongols, Swedes, Hapsburgs, Ottoman Turks, Poles, Germans, and Russians, and of the gradual, halting emergence of Ukrainian national identity and solidarity. Continue reading “Reading Ukraine: History, Memoir and Literature”

Stream Your Own MLK Day Film Fest

As the ongoing pandemic presents challenges for those seeking to observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday in ways that are both meaningful and safe, we invite you to stream your own Martin Luther King Jr. film festival. The following documentaries from our collection are all available to stream, right now. (New to streaming movies from your library? Find out more here.) Why not dedicate some time this MLK Day to explore the great man’s legacy, and the enduring cause of civil rights for which he sacrificed so much, and for which so many continue to struggle.

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  • I Am MLK Jr. Following his journey across the mountaintops and valleys while capturing the Civil Rights Movement at large, the film provides intimate, firsthand insights on Dr. King, and an ongoing movement that is as important today as when Dr. King first shone a light on the plight of his fellow African Americans.
  • Black America since MLK : and still I rise. Joined by leading scholars, celebrities, and a dynamic cast of people who shaped these years, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last fifty years of African American history, asking profound questions about the state of black America, and our nation as a whole.
  • King in the Wilderness. Drawing on revelatory stories from his inner circle of friends, this documentary follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the volatile last three years of his life, from the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in April 1968
  • King: A Filmed Record : Montgomery to Memphis. Constructed from a wealth of archival footage, this monumental 1970 documentary that follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1955 to 1968 has been newly restored by the Library of Congress.
  • A Ripple of Hope. On the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy went to Indiana and made one of the great political speeches of the 20th century. The inspiring moment in American history is told through interviews from those who were in the crowd that night.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day : making of a holiday. Paying lip service to Dr. King’s message is one thing, creating a national holiday is quite another. This is the story of how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, birthday became a national holiday.
  • Let the Children March. In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. An animated adaptation of Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic book for young readers and viewers.

Continue reading “Stream Your Own MLK Day Film Fest”

Is Gratitude Still a Thing?

It has been a few years since we shared books for adults, and for children on the topic of gratitude. After all we’ve been through since then, together and apart, we wonder: is gratitude still a thing?

Now more than ever, as it turns out. A few short years ago, who could have imagined being thankful just to feel the air on one’s face after unmasking at the end of a long workday? Have we ever been so giddy over getting a shot in the arm? Were we aware then of how much it means simply to gather with family or friends, in the same room? And what about our enhanced gratitude for all those everyday heroes in the health and service sectors whose determination and grit have saved lives, and made them so much more bearable?

As Thanksgiving approaches, just in case you needed a reminder, here are some of our latest books about the power of valuing what we have, and counting our blessings.

Continue reading “Is Gratitude Still a Thing?”

Books for the Young Hockey Fan

It seems everyone in Seattle has hockey fever right now – even the kids. Here’s everything you need to capture the interest of even the youngest hockey fans.

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Ice Clash, by Emma Carlson Berne. Their losses started when their new coach replaced 12-year-old Louise with his own son, refusing to accept that the team’s true star was a girl. Grades 4-6.

Breaking the Ice, by Nancy Bullaro. The inspiring true story of Manon Rhéaume who became the first woman to play in a major North American sports league when she hit the ice in 1992 for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Grades 2-3.

Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story, by Maureen Fergus. In this charming, offbeat picture book, 800-year-old Vlad finds a new lease on the afterlife when he puts on the pads and hits the ice at his local community center. Grades 1-2.

What is the Stanley Cup, by Gail Herman. This colorful history of the oldest sports trophy in the world contains all you need to know to full appreciate professional hockey’s own ‘superbowl.’ (Did you know the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917?) Grades 4-6.

Lake Placid Miracle, by B.A. Hoena. At the height of the Cold War, a rag-tag U.S. team beat the mighty Soviet behemoth, and the crowd went wild! Here’s how it all happened. Grades 4-6. Continue reading “Books for the Young Hockey Fan”