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Asian Heritage Month

A selection of books to celebrate Asian Heritage Month (May 1-31), with titles for readers of all ages.


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Seven

- by Farzana Doctor

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FINALIST FOR THE 2021 TRILLIUM AWARD o FINALIST FOR THE 2021 EVERGREEN AWARD o AN INDIGO BEST BOOK OF 2020 o A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST INDEPENDENT READ FOR FALL 2020 o AN APPLE BOOKS BEST BOOK OF 2020 o A CBC BOOKS BEST CANADIAN FICTION BOOK OF 2020 o A NOW MAGAZINE TOP TEN BOOK OF 2020

"Be prepared for this novel to stay with you for a long time, especially its ending."--GLOBE AND MAIL
"[An] extraordinary book... packed with discovery and jarring emotional arcs."--TORONTO STAR
"Penetrating and subtle ... [An] immersive, absorbing portrait."--EDEN ROBINSON
"Explores with courage and storytelling finesse the harsh truths within the ideals of kinship and community." --DAVID CHARIANDY
"An urgent and passionate read." --VIVEK SHRAYA
"Visceral and emotional... a courageous feat."--QUILL & QUIRE (starred review)


A brave, soulfully written feminist novel about inheritance and resistance that tests the balance between kinship and the fight against customs that harm us.

When Sharifa accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India in 2016, she thinks that she's going to research her great-great-grandfather, a wealthy business leader and philanthropist. What captures her imagination is not his rags-to-riches story, but the mystery of his four wives, missing from the family lore. She ends up excavating much more than she had imagined.

Sharifa's trip coincides with a time of unrest within her insular and conservative religious community, and there is no escaping its politics. A group of feminists is speaking out against khatna, an age-old ritual they insist is female genital cutting. Sharifa's two favourite cousins are on opposite sides of the debate and she seeks a middle ground. As the issue heats up, Sharifa discovers an unexpected truth and is forced to take a position.

Homebody

- by Joanna Gaines

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

In Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave, Joanna Gaines walks you through how to create a home that reflects the personalities and stories of the people who live there. Using examples from her own farmhouse as well as a range of other homes, this comprehensive guide will help you assess your priorities and instincts, as well as your likes and dislikes, with practical steps for navigating and embracing your authentic design style. Room by room, Homebody gives you an in-depth look at how these styles are implemented as well as how to blend the looks you're drawn to in order to create spaces that feel distinctly yours. A removable design template at the back of the book offers a step-by-step guide to planning and sketching out your own design plans. The insight shared in Homebody will instill in you the confidence to thoughtfully create spaces you never want to leave.

Two Trees Make a Forest

- by Jessica J. Lee

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER
of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021
One of The Globe and Mail's "100 favourite books of 2020"
On CBC's list of "the best Canadian nonfiction of 2020"

An exhilarating, anti-colonial reclamation of nature writing and memoir, rooted in the forests and flatlands of Taiwan from the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers

"Two Trees Make a Forest is a finely faceted meditation on memory, love, landscape--and finding a home in language. Its short, shining sections tilt yearningly toward one another; in form as well as content, this is a beautiful book about the distance between people and between places, and the means of their bridging." --Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.
Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

Hana Khan Carries On

- by Uzma Jalaluddin

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From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of "You've Got Mail," set in two competing halal restaurants Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she'll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters. When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana's growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant--who might not be a complete stranger after all. As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be. 

We Two Alone

- by Jack Wang

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A masterful collection of stories that dramatizes the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years, We Two Alone is Jack Wang's astonishing debut work of fiction.

Set on five continents and spanning nearly a century, We Two Alone traces the long arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple gets caught in the outbreak of violence in Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The consul general of China attempts to save lives following Kristallnacht in Vienna. A family aspires to buy a home in South Africa, during the rise of apartheid. An actor in New York struggles to keep his career alive while yearning to reconcile with his estranged wife.

From the vulnerable and disenfranchised to the educated and elite, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the diaspora at key moments in history and in contemporary times. Jack Wang has crafted deeply affecting stories that not only subvert expectations but contend with mortality and delicately draw out the intimacies and failings of love.

The Mountains Sing

- by Que Mai Phan Nguyen

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The International Bestseller
New York Times Editors' Choice Selection


Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Awards Fellowship

"[An] absorbing, stirring novel . . . that, in more than one sense, remedies history." --The New York Times Book Review


"A triumph, a novelistic rendition of one of the most difficult times in Vietnamese history . . . Vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting." --VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Tr?n family, set against the backdrop of the Vi?t Nam War. Tr?n Di?u Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà N?i, her young granddaughter, H??ng, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the H? Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Vi?t Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguy?n Phan Qu? Mai's first novel in English.

Sparks Like Stars

- by Nadia Hashimi

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"Suspenseful...emotionally compelling. I found myself eagerly following in a way I hadn't remembered for a long time, impatient for the next twist and turn of the story."--NPR

An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, The House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.

Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zamani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan's thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan's progressive president, and Sitara's beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara's world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara's entire family. Only she survives. 

Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name--Aryana Shepherd--and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured. 

New York, 2008: Thirty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana's world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room--a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana's fury and desire for answers--and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul--a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban--and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost. 

Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home--of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi's singular voice.

The Committed

- by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The long-awaited new novel from one of America's most highly regarded contemporary writers,The Committed follows the unnamed Sympathizer as he arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his blood brother Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese "aunt," he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotic merchandise. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition. The Sympathizer will need all his wits, resourcefulness, and moral flexibility if he is to prevail.Both literary thriller and novel of ideas,The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen's position in the firmament of American letters.

Cyclopedia Exotica

- by Aminder Dhaliwal

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"Dhaliwal created a fictitious community facing xenophobia, fetishization, and media misrepresentation. It's resonating with her thousands of Instagram followers."--Robert Ito, The New York Times

"The characters in Dhaliwal's stories sparkle. They're tenderly rendered and their problems are real... The struggle of the cyclops unfolds in metaphors for race, sexuality, gender, and disability, tangling with ideas about fetishization, interracial relationships, passing, and representation."--Carmen Maria Machado, author of In The Dream House


Following the critical and popular success of Woman World--the hit Instagram comic which appeared on 25 best of the year lists--Aminder Dhaliwal returns with Cyclopedia Exotica. Also serialized on instagram to her 250,000 followers, this graphic novel showcases Dhaliwal's quick wit and astute socio-cultural criticism.

Doctor's office waiting rooms, commercials, dog parks, and dating app screenshots capture the experiences and interior lives of the cyclops community; a largely immigrant population displaying physical differences from the majority. Whether they're artists, parents, or yoga students, the cyclops have it tough: they face microaggressions and overt xenophobia on a daily basis. However, they are bent on finding love, cultivating community, and navigating life alongside the two-eyed majority with patience and the occasional bout of rage.
Cyclopedia Exotica is a triumph of hilarious candor.

How to Pronounce Knife

- by S. Thammavongsa

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WINNER OF THE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2021 TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, the PEN AMERICA OPEN BOOK AWARD, and the DANUTA GLEED AWARD
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Named one of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020, and featuring stories that have appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, this revelatory book of fiction from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. Told with compassion and wry humour, these stories honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world."


A young man painting nails at the local salon. A woman plucking feathers at a chicken processing plant. A father who packs furniture to move into homes he'll never afford. A housewife learning English from daytime soap operas. In her stunning Giller Prize-winning debut book of fiction, Souvankham Thammavongsa focuses on characters struggling to make a living, illuminating their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance, and above all their pursuit of a place to belong. In spare, intimate prose charged with emotional power and a sly wit, she paints an indelible portrait of watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values. As one of Thammavongsa's characters says, "All we wanted was to live." And in these stories, they do--brightly, ferociously, unforgettably.

A daughter becomes an unwilling accomplice in her mother's growing infatuation with country singer Randy Travis. A former boxer finds a chance at redemption while working at his sister's nail salon. A school bus driver must grapple with how much he's willing to give up in order to belong. And in the title story, a young girl's unconditional love for her father transcends language.

Tender, uncompromising, and fiercely alive, How to Pronounce Knife establishes Souvankham Thammavongsa as one of the most important voices of her generation. 

Satellite Love

- by Genki Ferguson

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Set in 1999 Japan, Satellite Love is a heartbreaking and beautifully unconventional debut novel about a girl, a boy, and a satellite--and a bittersweet meditation on loneliness, alienation, and what it means to be human. Named a CBC Books Spring Reading List Title, a Shelf Life Books Book of the Month, a Toronto Life summer read recommendation, and one of Daily Hive's 10 Essential Reads to Celebrate Asian Canadian Writers. 

On the eve of the new millennium, in a city in southern Japan that progress has forgotten, sixteen-year-old Anna Obata looks to the stars for solace. An outcast at school, and left to fend for herself and care for her increasingly senile grandfather at home, Anna copes with her loneliness by searching the night sky for answers. But everything changes the evening the Low Earth Orbit satellite (LEO for short) returns her gaze and sees her as no one else has before.
     After Leo is called down to Earth, he embarks on an extraordinary journey to understand his own humanity as well as the fragile mind of the young woman who called him into being. As Anna withdraws further into her own mysterious plans, he will be forced to question the limits of his devotion and the lengths he will go to protect her.
     Full of surprising imaginative leaps and yet grounded by a profound understanding of the human heart, Satellite Love is a brilliant and deeply moving meditation on loneliness, faith, and the yearning for meaning and connection. It is an unforgettable story about the indomitable power of the imagination and the mind's ability to heal itself, no matter the cost, no matter the odds.

Displacement

- by Kiku Hughes

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A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother's experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes.

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself "stuck" back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.

Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.

The Magic Fish

- by Trung Le Nguyen

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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by the New York Public Library o Kirkus Reviews o Booklist o Publishers Weekly

In this gorgeous debut graphic novel, fairy tales are the only way one boy can communicate with his Vietnamese immigrant parents. But how will he find the words to tell them that he's gay? A powerful read about family, identity and the enduring magic of stories.
 
"One of the most astounding graphic novels of the year"  -Entertainment Weekly


Tien and his mother may come from different cultures--she's an immigrant from Vietnam still struggling with English; he's been raised in America--but through the fairy tales he checks out from the local library, those differences are erased.
 
But as much as Tien's mother's English continues to improve as he reads her tales of love, loss, and travel across distant shores, there's one conversation that still eludes him--how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he's going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him?
 
This beautifully illustrated graphic novel speaks to the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together even when we don't know the words.
 
"A lyrical masterpiece." -BuzzFeed

Yolk

- by Mary H. K. Choi

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"Sneaks up on you with its insight and poignancy." --Entertainment WeeklyFrom

New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they'll go to save one of their lives--even if it means swapping identities.

Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June's three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad's money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don't want anything to do with each other.

That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

Flung together by circumstance, housing woes, and family secrets, will the sisters learn more about each other than they're willing to confront? And what if while helping June, Jayne has to confront the fact that maybe she's sick, too?

My Summer of Love and Misfortune

- by Lindsay Wong

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Crazy Rich Asians meets Love & Gelato in this hilarious, quirky novel about a Chinese-American teen who is thrust into the decadent world of Beijing high society when she is sent away to spend the summer in China.

Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer: Her boyfriend cheated on her, she didn't get into any colleges, and she has no idea who she is or what she wants to do with her life. She's always felt torn about being Chinese-American, feeling neither Chinese nor American enough to claim either identity. She's just a sad pizza combo from Domino's, as far as she's concerned.

In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris's parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris would "reconnect with her culture" and "find herself." Iris resents the condescension, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button on the apocalyptic disaster that has become her life.

With this trip, Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. Instead, she gets swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing's wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.

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