April 28, 2009

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month - May

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm early. I'm just eager. I was reminded of the month-to-come by Susan at Color Online, who's chosen an interactive way to honor Asian heritage peeps this month. She's asking you to:

1) List favorite Asian, South Asian or Asian American writers and their works.

2) Share a little history or geography about a particular country.

3) Be creative. Share a quote, passage from a work or write a brief bio sketch of a favorite writer.

4) How about writing about nonfiction? A cookbook- include a recipe. A history book or memoir.

5) Don't know much about Asian writers? Explore and then report on what you discovered.

6) If you are familiar with writers, please share a few recommendations. Please cite country/ethnicity. Asia is a lot of ground to cover.

If you're willing to participate, please create a post on your blog and leave a link at ColorOnline with Mr. Linky, and make sure you check out other people's posts and leave comments.

I'm excited because for once, I'm at the forefront of a movement, instead of laggin'! And it's not even May, but I'm going to throw down my Asian Pacific American Heritage knowledge, scanty as it might be. Here I go with my list of authors and my recommendations to you:

1. Favorite Asian, South Asian or Asian American writers and their works:
* Maxine Hong Kingston, Chinese-American Woman Warrior
* Amy Tan, Chinese-American, Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, and others,
* Jhumpa Lahiri, Bengali American, The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies,
* Merlinda Bobis, Filipino, The Kissing,
* Kao Kalia Yang, Hmong/Laotian The Latehomecomer.

* An Na, Korean-American, A Step from Heaven, Wait for Me,
* Marie G. Lee, Korean-American If It Hadn't Been for Yoon Jun, Finding My Voice, Saying Goodbye, Necessary Roughness
* Yoshiko Uchida, Japanese-American Journey to Topaz, Picture Bride, Jar of Dreams, etc.
* Lawrence Yep, Chinese-American Dragonwings, Child of the Owl, The Star Fisher, Dragon War, Dragon Kate and many, many, MANY more...
* Justina Chen-Headley, Taiwanese-American, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), Girl Overboard, North of Beautiful,
* Mitali Perkins, Bengali-American, The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, First Daughter I&II, Secret Keeper
* Tanuja Desai Hidier, South Asian-American, Born Confused,
* Cynthia Kadohata, Japanese-American Kira-Kira
* Lensey Namioka, Chinese-American, Half and Half
* Derek Kirk Kim, Korean-American, Good as Lily
* Gene Luen Yang, Chinese-American, American Born Chinese,

Whew! And there are probably some I've forgotten, but these are the authors whose books I've read that I can think of off the top of my head.

2. A little history or geography: My historical links to an Asian country come from my interest in my sister and in a handful of students I had when I taught for the State of California's juvenile system. I've learned all I can about Laos and Hmong people -- which isn't much, sadly. The most succinct knowledge I have is from The Latehomecomer (which is nonfiction, taking care of #4), which tells about the CIA's bad deal with the people of that country, and how, when the Vietnam war was declared... over-ish, and the Americans left, the Laotians had to bear the brunt of the anger from the Vietcong. It decimated a people, and brought many of them stumbling to America, some to succeed, some to fail.

3. Be creative: My creative bit of information about an Asian American is about Tanuja Desai Hidier, whose book was a serious hit. I expected -- tons more books, tons of interviews - for her to really rock the whole Indian-American Spotlight thing. Nope. She retired after one book, to become lead vocalist in a London rock band. Seriously. The only reason she even pitched her book was a mix-up; she was going to Scholastic to interview for a copy-editing job; the editor thought she was there to discuss a book pitch. Ms. Hidier was fast enough to get a foot in the door and shove it open when opportunity knocked, and she got better than a copy editing job!

4. Asian-American Nonfiction Picks: I already hit nonfiction, but I have to also give props to my very favorite, seriously best-food-ever Asian cookbook in the world -- Mai Pham's The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking. This book has childhood reminiscences in it, as well as pictures -- the recipes are awesome, but almost incidental (almost, I said -- not quite, the food is darned good), after her story is told in these pages. She owns a restaurant in Sacramento, and let me tell you: Yum.

Looking back over this, I actually read a few Asian and Asian American authors and I kind of feel good about that. To the Asians, South Asians, and Pacific American peoples in the blogosphere - happy month. To ColorOnline, thanks for the challenge. To the rest of you, check your knowledge -- this is a good exercise to help you expand your reading and knowledge of quality multicultural literature.


Saints and Spinners said...

Well, I know I'm smitten with Grace Lin, and was introduced to her through the Kidlitosphere.

I appreciate the narcissus flower photos. I've made 6 all-yellow daffodil flower children (4 large, 2 small, most of them commissions) and am ready to branch out into the other colors.

Laini Taylor said...

Born Confused sounds great. I'll have to check it out :-)

Summer said...

Great idea. I might have something to write.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Born Confused was a lot of fun--I found it randomly in the library. Was sure I'd reviewed it but can find no evidence of such. :( Anyway, I'll have to think about this challenge!

Color Online said...

Great post! Thanks for joining us. For the host I should do better with my entry, but I'm juggling a whole lot, like the physical group, Color Online and keeping our library functioning. Anyhoo, again, thanks for participating and encouraging others. Hope to see you more frequently at Color Online. And you can be sure, I'll be here.

Color Online said...

Born Confused was good and I was bummed to hear the writer changed careers!

Serena said...

I love Amy Tan as well!

Tarie Sabido said...

Hi, Tanita! I am also celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at my blog Into the Wardrobe (http://peteredmundlucy7.blogspot.com). :D Cheers!