Literary Solidarity.

Stop bigotry and hate crimes against Asian Pacific Americans. Full stop. And against anyone in general.

Moving to the West Coast years ago broke me out of the Black-and-white population paradigm that I’d grown up with. Reading was a gateway to eagerly learn more about my new APA neighbors in community. Here are some of my favorite books, in no particular order, by Asian Pacific American authors from over the years.

There is no list without this dynamic duo to start it. The Joy Luck Club was published the same year that I moved the the Bay Area; its San Francisco setting felt like a personal primer for me. Groundbreaking at the time, JLC is now a modern literary classic. Tan’s follow up, Kitchen God’s Wife, was also an entertaining Part II of sorts.

I met author R. Zamora Linmark at San Francisco’s famed A Different Light bookstore, where he read from Rolling the R’s, his first novel. Loved the vibrant characters, 70’s kitsch, and Hawaiian Filipino slang.

I like graphic novels but haven’t found enough of them with subject matter that appeals to me. The protagonist in American Born Chinese reminded me of a former student of mine (now an illustrator himself); it’s a terrific YA combo of suburbia and superhero.

Among the “return to ancestral lands” memoirs that I’ve read, Beijing Bastard ranks among the snarkiest and most descriptive of the culture clash and gradual embrace of such a journey.

Fixer Chao was a random off-the-shelf purchase, a slick and funny tale of a gay grifter passing as an expert feng shui advisor to Manhattan’s elite.

In the Country is a quietly dignified set of short stories about various Filipinxs/os across the globe. I love being drawn in without fireworks, twists, or shock; everyday lives are still filled with dilemmas.

Standing in a packed lecture hall at UC Berkeley, I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Nguyen read and discuss an excerpt of The Sympathizer way before it became a Pulitzer winner. An informing novel about a SoCal-based resettled informant. Oh, just read it. Heady stuff.