We asked Sona Shah, the Culture and Arts Education Manager at the Asian American Resource Center here in Austin, what are some of her favorite Asian American authored books? Here is her short list of books.
If you See Me, Don’s Say Hi by Neel Patel
This is a collection of seven short stories that showcases common stereotypes and slowly erode those ideas. These stories primarily feature first-generation Indian Americans and subvert the idea that Asian Americans will idly sit by when challenges arise. It explores the two faces of the same coin in many of the stories; small town vs big city, traditions vs modern rituals. Buy the book here.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
When Lucy and Sam’s Ba passes away and the mining town that they live in starts to threaten their lives, they flee to find a resting place for their father’s ashes. Their journey brings up family secrets and sibling rivalry as well as buffalo bones and tiger tracks, yet they also find a possible future for themselves. Buy the book here.
Superman Smashed the Klan by Gene Luen Yang
This graphic novel takes place in 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan? Buy the book here.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
This illustrated memoir explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family. Bui documents the story of her family’s escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. Buy the book here.
Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani
The Shahanis came to Queens—from India, by way of Casablanca—in the 1980s. They were undocumented for a few unsteady years and then, with the arrival of their green cards, they thought they’d made it. This memoir is the story of how they did, and didn’t; the unforeseen obstacles that propelled them into years of disillusionment and heartbreak; and the strength of a family determined to stay together. Buy the book here.