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Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) Award-Winning Books
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! You can celebrate by eating spring rolls or some other favorite spring thing, and reading some of the latest APALA Award-Winning books available at your library. (But of course you don't get sauce on the books. Library people never do that.)
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A novelist living on an island off the West Coast finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a watch and a diary inside. It seems to have washed ashore after the Japanese tsunami in 2011, but the diary was written by a 16-year-old girl 10 years before. It documents her great-grandmother's life: the life of a 104-year-old radical Buddhist nun, whom the girl wants to learn about before she ends her own life. Does she? A Tale for the Time Being is "a lyrical disquisition on writing's power to transcend time and place," according to Publisher's Weekly Reviews.
The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang
The author is the mother of Iris Chang, who wrote the famous book The Rape of Nanking after seeing pictures of hundreds of bodies floating in a river in China. This was the Japanese massacre in Nanking in 1937. The younger Chang was a very bright girl who grew up to be a journalist and historian, and the author of three books. But at the age of 36, she killed herself on a rural road in Los Gatos. (I am so sorry to write about suicide twice in one blog.) In The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking, Ying-Ying Chang conveys the memory of her beloved daughter and her work, and the possible reasons she died.
The Submission by Amy Waldman
This novel is about a competition to design a fitting memorial for the Sept. 11 terrorist attack (there really was such a competition for Ground Zero). When it's discovered that the winner is a Muslim American of Indian origin, a complex controversy ensues. Competing claims, religious prejudice, grief, art, ambition, ethical dilemmas and hope all have parts to play in this drama. Waldman was a reporter and bureau chief in India for the New York Times. The Submission is nuanced work of fiction that has earned a lot of praise.
Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America by Erika Lee & Judy Yung
Lee and Yung, who are both professors descended from internees on Angel Island, offer here "a sweeping yet personal history of Chinese 'paper sons,' Japanese picture brides, Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino repatriates, and many others from around the world. Their experiences on Angel Island reveal how America's discriminatory immigration policies changed the lives of immigrants and transformed the nation," to quote the publishers. The book was written to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Angel Island Immigration Station, in 2010. Read Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America and then go visit!
I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita
No, this author is not the same person as one of our favorite Woodside staff members! I checked. But anyway, Karen T. Yamashita devoted ten years to writing the I Hotel, a collection of ten novellas about the struggle for Asian Pacific American civil rights, centering on the old International Hotel in the City. It's set in 1968-1977, with a "motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs," including a sax player, a choreographer, and a Yellow Panther. Regular prose alternates with letters, the script of a play, dossiers,cartoons, etc. Is the I Hotel still there? Find out!
Vaughn Harrison wants to hear that sax player.