As Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month approaches, I really can’t wait to start celebrating the craft and work of Asian American authors. In light of the recent violence and racism targeting, harming, and even killing Asian Americans across the U.S., I think it’s vital that we take the month of May to support Asian writers’ art, creativity, and stories.
So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to be publishing content in preparation for AAPI Heritage Month, and I decided to start off by compiling a list of upcoming releases by Asian American authors for the rest of 2021. This is such a diverse selection of titles that I’m sure everyone will be able to find at least one book they’re interested in trying; personally, I was so excited by so many different books that my TBR list has grown into an absolutely monstrous pile. I hope you’re able to find something that excites you and that this post is helpful — happy browsing!
***You can access a book’s Goodreads page by clicking its cover image.
Imagine that your family has always had a generations-long feud with another family. Now, imagine that you have been raised to particularly hate a member of that family who is your age — the two of you have always competed academically and athletically, but have never actually spoken. But then one day, you do, and everything changes. You’re instantly attracted to each other, but are unable to speak on the phone or meet up in-person — the relationship is forbidden and must be kept secret. The two of you are left getting to know one another exclusively via snail mail.
Now, imagine these angsty letter-writing fantasies playing out during an intergalactic, transdimensional time war between two lethal women fighting for different, warring factions.
This is the best way I can think to describe Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s strange, striking epistolary novel THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR.
According to Oxford Languages, a ghost story (n.) is “a story involving ghosts or ghostly circumstances, intended to be suspenseful or scary.”
We know from THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI’s title and opening sentence — “They burned down the market on the day that Vivek Oji died” — that Vivek Oji is dead, but we’re not told how or why. We spend much of the book trying to solve the mystery of his death, as well as the mystery of who he really was, alongside Kavita, his mother, and come to understand before she does. Her journey toward the truth, or as close as she’ll get to it, is charged with suspense.
According to Oxford Languages, a ghost (n.) is “the soul or spirit of a dead person […] that can appear to, observe, or contact the living.” According to Collins English Dictionary, a ghost (n.) is “a returning or haunting memory or image.”
Vivek speaks to us from the grave. He speaks of his life, his stories, those he loves. Those who loved him — his lover, his friends, his family — are haunted by their memories of him.
And Vivek never met his beloved, well-respected grandmother, whose memory his parents never stopped being haunted by. They missed her terribly. She died on the day Vivek was born; when he entered the world as she exited it, his foot was marked by a starfish-shaped scar identical to the one she had on hers. Emezi tells us, “In Igbo spirituality, wherein the dead are reborn back into the family, this is a potential sign of reincarnation.”
Whenever I think about THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI, I think of it as a ghost story.
DETRANSITION, BABY features the type of queer representation I’ve only dreamt of reading: chaotic, complex, dazzling, not particularly redemptive, and so excruciatingly honest that it would have made Carrie Fisher proud. It’s honest enough that, at times, I felt like it would only be polite to look away and grant its characters some privacy.