Lighthouse Reads: Asian American History Month Edition

Lighthouse Reads: Asian American History Month Edition

It’s that time of year again–Asian American history month! And what better way to learn about the Asian American experience than through books? Although it’s impossible to distill a year of literary genius into one list, here are a few titles kick off your Asian American history month reading list in 2022–a list I hope you’ll continue to build all year round.

The Immortal King Rao – by Vauhini Vara

Athena Rao is the daughter of King Rao, a Dalit tech genius who created the software that fuel’s a new technocratic form of government. She’s also the prime suspect in his murder. Part family saga and part speculative fiction, this lyrical page turner defies genre in the best way. Written by The Book Project’s own Vauhini Vara.

Kamila Knows Best – by Farah Heron

In this retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, protagonist, Kamila Hussein, unexpectedly develops feelings for a family friend who, like all of the other South Asian men in her life, consistently underestimates her abilities. Written by Tanzanian Indian Muslim author Farah Heron, this layered, heartfelt romance beautifully transforms the everyday struggles of women of color into the happy ending we all deserve.

Homicide and Halo-Halo – by Mia P. Manansala

In the fictional town of Shady Palms, Illinois, protagonist and unwitting sleuth Lila Macapagal is roped into judging her town’s annual teen beauty pageant. When the head judge turns up dead, and Lila’s cousin is named a prime suspect, Lila warily enters the investigation to clear her family’s name. The second book in this cozy mystery series, Halo-Halo and Homicide is darker and more insightful than its prequel, but is just as exciting to read.

Circa – by Devi Laskar

I got my preorder copy of this book while writing this blog post – it came out May 3rd – but I can’t wait to read it! It’s the story of a troublemaker named Heera from Raleigh, North Carolina whose antics go terribly wrong one life-altering night in her teens. The book traces her future, as well as her relationship with her friends who were part of this tragic incident. Laskar’s book The Atlas of Reds and Blues was devastatingly good, and I expect this, her second novel, to be no different.

In Sensorium – by Tanaïs

In this dazzling memoir, queer, Bangladeshi Muslim American Tanas intertwines an exploration of their past with deep historical research about South Asian history and a profound knowledge of perfumery drawn from personal experience. This lyrical, original, and thought provoking book is one of my favorites of the year.

Uncommon Measure – by Natalie Hodges

A book of essays by Denver’s own Natalie Hodges. In each piece, Hodges – who is biracial – explores everything from her mother’s Korean heritage to her father’s emotional distance to the nature of space and time. Throughout, she returns to her love of music, and the result is a fantastically eclectic but thoroughly coherent collection.

Year of the Tiger – by Alice Wong

This book hasn’t come out yet, but I can’t wait to read it. Alice Wong is an insightful, hilarious, and passionate disability rights activist whose work is unfailingly eloquent and cutting edge. Her latest work, a memoir, promises to be just as exciting, if not moreso.

Mathangi Subramanian is an award winning South Asian American author and educator who believes stories have the power to change the world. Her novel A People’s History of Heaven was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Valley of Words Prize. An excerpt from the book won the Katherine O. Paterson prize for middle grade short fiction. Her middle grades novel, Dear Mrs. Naidu, won the South Asia book award. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Washington Post, Ms., Zora Magazine, and Al Jazeera America, among others. A former public school teacher, Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, and senior policy analyst for the New York City Council, she currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and way too many art supplies. 

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