A Reading List for Summer 2021
We’re highlighting Asian writers ahead
Following the torrential surge of anti-Asian acts in America and the call to #StopAsianHate and protect AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) lives, we reflect on lived experiences of fellow Asians through literature. With the most recent attack on an elderly Filipino woman in New York, their, our plight to belong and be seen continues even in 2021. A diverse reading list may not eradicate hatred, but it will, hopefully, help us cultivate empathy.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas
We’re starting the list with Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, and his provocative memoir Dear America. He writes, “This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in… After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.”
Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina
Elizabeth Miki Brina discovers her family’s history traumatized by colonization and racism in Speak, Okinawa. Through understanding her mother (a nightclub hostess) and father’s (an American soldier) relationship, and her mother’s homeland, Okinawa, she explores the connectedness, which allowed her to exist.
My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee
An instant national bestseller, My Year Abroad tells the story of Tiller, an average American college student, and Pong Lou, a creative Chinese American entrepreneur, both transformed by an eccentric adventure. It revels in man’s capacity for pleasure, pain, and connection.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Writer prodigy, Ocean Vuong, reveals a delicate coming-of-age tale of a Vietnamese American boy struggling to find his place in America in his semi-autobiographical debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. It’s written in the form of love letters to his mother who cannot read, who survived the Vietnam War. The bestselling novel surveys race and identity in contemporary America.
Bonus: Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
In honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, we bring the spotlight towards Torrey Peters’ irresistible debut novel, Detransition, Baby. Following three interconnected women—trans and cis—wrestling with questions surrounding the possibility of creating a family. Here, Peters aims to destigmatize taboos around gender, sex and relationships. It soon will be adapted as a television series.
Have anything on your summer reading list? Leave it in the comments below!
Art Alexandra Lara