General APA

Asian Pacific American Literature 101

APAP intern visit to the Library of Congress with librarian/curator of the Asian American Pacific Islander collection, Reme Grefalda.

During the same week that the House of Representatives joined the Senate in unanimously passing a resolution expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which until its repeal in 1943, prevented the immigration and naturalization of people of Chinese origin; the same week that the Pew Research Center released a much debated study on the growing role and relevance of Asian Americans in the U.S.; the same week that Asian Pacific Americans across the country participated in nationwide town hall revisiting the 30th anniversary of the tragic death of Vincent Chin, the young man who became a victim of violence when he appeared to be “Japanese”; and the same week that America celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, a resolution named after the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress, Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink, and widely known as Title IX – the Library of Congress (LOC) released its list of “Books That Shaped America,” a list of 88 books that the LOC recommended as a starting point for a conversation about books written by Americans that shaped our lives.

With help from our BookDragon blogger, Terry Hong, we decided to join the conversation and offer a list of 53 influential authors from Asian Pacific America.  She created two lists for us—pioneers and contemporary writers—the list of pioneers is below.  Who do you think should be on the list, contemporary, pioneer or otherwise? Discuss your thoughts on our BookDragon Facebook page.  Finally, we know that our list is far from comprehensive nor is it a register of the “best” writers.   The list is a humble starting point.  It is intended to join a national conversation about books that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list, or not.

Pioneering Writers

Carlos Bulosan
Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha
Jeffery Paul Chan
Diana Chang
Iris Chang
Nien Cheng
Frank Chin
Louis Chu
Anita Desai
Momoko Iko
Suyin Han
Le Ly Hayslip
Maxine Hong Kingston
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
Younghill Kang
Richard E. Kim
Joy Kogawa
Him Mark Lai
C.Y. Lee
Li-Young Lee
Mary Paik Lee
Genny Lim
Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
Bette Bao Lord
Ruthanne Lum McCunn
Toshio Mori
Dhan Gopal Mukerji
Bharati Mukherjee
Franklin Odo
John Okada
Mine Okubo
Gary Pak
Bienvenido Santos
Monica Sone
Cathy Song
Sin Far Sui
Stephen Sumida
Ron Takaki
Amy Tan
Eleanor Wong Telemaque
Yoshiko Uchida
Jade Snow Wong
Nellie Wong
Shawn Wong
Merle Woo
Mitsuye Yamada
Hisaye Yamamoto
Wakako Yamauchi
Taro Yashima
John Yau
Connie Young Yu
Judy Yung
Helen Zia



16 thoughts on “Asian Pacific American Literature 101

  1. Laurence Yep has won the Newbery Honor for his historical fiction chronicling Chinese Americans in the US. His books are incredibly well written. Yoshiko Uchida should also be on this list – her books were some of the first to expose young readers to Japanese Interment from a Japanese American family’s perspective.

  2. So, after nearly half a century in the United States, Southeast Asian writers, especially from the Hmong, Lao, Khmer, and Vietnamese communities, even the award-winning ones, don’t even get one token nod on this list even with over 2,506,303 of us? That’s pretty telling.

  3. The list is definitely incomplete. An author who must be on the list is the late great Michi Nishiura Weglyn who is the author of “Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps” (University of Washington Press).

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