In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, here are 10 new and debut Asian American YA authors for you to check out. Support them today so they can publish more books tomorrow!
Kelly Loy Gilbert
I. W. Gregorio
Valynne E. Maetani
Caroline Tung Richmond
Sona Charaipotra — Tiny Pretty Things co-written with Dhonielle Clayton (HarperTeen, May 2015)
Get to know her: Goodreads Voice: Interview with Sona Charaipotra
Kelly Loy Gilbert — Conviction (Disney-Hyperion, May 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Kelly Loy Gilbert
I. W. Gregorio — None of the Above (Balzer + Bray, April 2015)
Get to know her: One Asian Book is Quite Enough (Diversity in YA)
Fonda Lee — Zeroboxer (Flux, April 2015)
Get to know her: Get to Know Asian American Children’s Authors: Fonda Lee, Author of Zeroboxer (amithaknight.com)
Stacey Lee — Under a Painted Sky (Putnam, March 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Stacey Lee
Valynne Maetani — Ink and Ashes (Tu Books, June 2015)
Get to know her: Valynne E. Maetani’s website
Caroline Tung Richmond — The Only Thing to Fear (Scholastic)
Get to know her: Me, My Daughter, and the Babysitter’s Club (Diversity in YA)
Aisha Saeed — Written in the Stars (Nancy Paulsen Books, March 2015)
Get to know her: On Asian-Americans and why we are #NotYourAsianSidekick (aishasaeed.com)
Sabaa Tahir — An Ember in the Ashes (Razorbill, April 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Sabaa Tahir
Amy Zhang — Falling into Place (Greenwillow, September 2014)
Get to know her: An Indies Introduce New Voices Q&A With Amy Zhang (Bookselling This Week)
Your favorite YA books about Asian Americans!
Thanks to everyone who answered our call for your favorite YA books about Asian Americans in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! Some of them weren’t YA, but we’re including them anyway. Here are the books you love:
Fiffy recommends: Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
This is the first Asian American book I read. I learned about something I didn’t know much about. It made me more aware of America and my standing. I should appreciate that I live in this time instead of back then.
lightspeedsound recommends: Child of the Owl and Ribbons, both by Laurence Yep
sdiaz101 recommends: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The three interlocking stories come together to depict the immigrant story in such a powerful way. I love this Printz-winning title. It turned me on to graphic novels, and it was one of the first that I’ve read in which a POC was the main character.
pyroclast recommends: Good Enough by Paula Yoo
inventthisplease recommends: Bone by Fae Myenne Ng
This is not YA but it is so good. SF Chinatown, secrets, immigration, a “paper father,” (a little sex). Bone is still at the top of my list for all-time favorite books.
DiYA Author Spotlight: Mitali Perkins
Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York, and Mexico before moving to California when she was 11. She is the author of many critically acclaimed books for children and young adults, and the editor of the forthcoming anthology Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, which will be published by Candlewick this fall. She frequently blogs about life between cultures at her website, Mitali’s Fire Escape.
“Living between cultures means that you don’t feel like you fit either in your community of origin or in mainstream Americana. It means that you’d better learn to flex your spirit so that you can eventually feel at home in many places or that you’ll spend a bulk of your formative years feeling disenfranchised. Through stories, immigrant, adopted, and bi-racial kids can achieve the flexibility needed to survive life between cultures, as well as to make themselves feel at home.”
— Mitali Perkins in an interview with Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
“I’m proud to be an Asian American author, and yet hope that many young readers from all different backgrounds will enjoy my stories. I don’t like being automatically shelved in the multicultural section, and feel that being labeled like that sometimes hinders my books from getting into the right hands or more hearts. Some of my books are about race, but in others, like the First Daughter books and Monsoon Summer, ethnicity plays only a small part in the plot.”
— Mitali Perkins in an interview with Cynsations
Find out more about Mitali Perkins and her books at her website, or follow her on Twitter.
DiYA Author Spotlight: Melissa de la Cruz
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous young adult novels, including The Au Pairs series and the Blue Bloods series, as well as her semi-autobiographical novel Fresh Off the Boat. According to her official bio, “Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).”
“Transition to life in America was very hard. It’s still hard! LOL. My husband (who is American and from the Midwest) says that I don’t know how to do anything. I expect everything to be cleaned up after me, like a little princess. I guess half of me grew up very entitled and the other half is kind of this flinty, no-nonsense immigrant. I understand the dynamic of rich communities, the insulation, the snobbery, but I also understand what hardscrabble struggle is like.” — Melissa de La Cruz on growing up in Manila as a “rich kid” before moving to the U.S. (fictionforyoungadults.blogspot.com)
“I was raised Catholic in the Philippines, and religion is much more ingrained into our daily life than religion is here, so I grew up in a culture where during Lent, there was nothing on TV (NOTHING) and we would go to the cemetery for a week to honor our dead, and you would see men holding crosses and wearing crowns of thorns, whipping themselves, walking down the highway. So I grew up with all this fantastic imagery, and I’d always loved the story of Paradise Lost, and I also liked that Lucifer’s story – his fall – is not in the Bible, it’s more of a Catholic myth, a fairytale, and I liked that about it, because I could use it and not feel like I was blaspheming the religion I grew up with.” — Melissa de La Cruz on what drew her to write about vampires (Fantasy Book Addict)
Visit Melissa de la Cruz’s official website or follow her on twitter.
DiYA Author Spotlight: Laurence Yep
Laurence Yep was born in San Francisco in 1948. He is the author of more than 60 books for young people, including the Newbery Honor books Dragonwings and Dragon’s Gate. In 2005, he was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal by the American Library Assocation, which honors honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.
“As a child I hated Chinese school. I wanted to be as American as possible. Then, in my early twenties, I became very interested in my Chinese roots. For years after that, I thought that my function as a Chinese-American writer was to act as a bridge between two cultures. Now, though, I am not so sure that it is possible to blend two cultures together. Asian cultures are family- and cooperation-oriented. American culture on the other hand emphasizes the individual and competition. The two cultures pull in opposite directions. So I see myself now as someone who will always be on the borer between two cultures. That works to my benefit as a writer because not quite fitting in helps me be a better observer.” — Laurence Yep on his Chinese heritage (PaperTigers.org)
“As a child, I read mostly science fiction and fantasy books like the Oz books. When I was a child, I grew up in a black neighborhood but went to school in Chinatown. So I moved back and forth between two ghettoes. I could never get into the Homer Price novels, because in those books, every kid had a bicycle, and every kid left their front door unlocked, and that was alien to me as a child. You had to lock your doors, and no one I knew had a bike. But in science fiction and fantasy, children leave the everyday world and go to a strange place where they have to learn a new language and new customs. Science fiction and fantasy were about adapting, and that was something I did every day when I got on and off the bus.” — Laurence Yep on the books he read in his childhood (Scholastic)
See Laurence Yep’s bibliography on Wikipedia