9 Books to Read During Asian Heritage Month

Asian girl leaning on an open book on a desk

It's officially Asian Heritage Month! It was created by the Canadian government as "an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent". We wanted to use our platform to spotlight the works of Asian-Canadians ranging from comics to nonfiction and for all ages.

Make sure to add these books to your reading lists and share your picks with us on our social media channels by using @festofauthors.

Book cover of  I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom

I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019) 

Part personal essays and part prose poems, this collection asks for nuance in a politically polarized world, for restorative justice in a retributive system and for love at the end of the world. Last month, Kai Cheng Thom won the 2020 Triangle Awards for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature.

Book cover of Constantly by GG

Constantly by GG (Koyama Press, 2020)

Comics creator GG tackles crippling anxiety in pastel pinks, greys and a plum purple. Mostly wordless, the only text offered in this visually rich work is on images of torn lined paper placed intermittently throughout the book. It's a short read that offers lengthy insight and requires the reader's own self-reflection.

Book cover of Familiar Face by Michael DeForge

Familiar Face by Michael DeForge (Drawn and Quarterly, 2020)

Familiar Face takes place in a fantastical world where the infrustructure and citizins are constantly updating. People wake up to an entirely new space and commuter routes are never the same. The comic's narrator works for a department that deals with complaints related to the updates. They aren't expected to offer solutions but rather a "sole human sounding board, a comfort in a system so decidedly impersonal". Expect DeForge's signature surrealist art, vibrant colours and humour.

Book cover of The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya

The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya (ECW, 2020)

We're all familiar with stories about falling in love but what about falling in friendship? Shraya's The Subtweet follows musicians Neela Devaki and Rukmini as they develop a friendship after Rukmini's cover of Neela's song goes viral. As Rukmini's career flourishes and Neela's stagnants, their friendship is threatened by a single tweet. We had the privilege of hosting the Toronto stop on The Subtweet Virtual Tour and you can watch the event on our Facebook page.

Book cover of No Going Back by Sheena Kamal

No Going Back by Sheena Kamal (HarperCollins Canada, 2020)

Dubbed "a dark, moody, complex thriller" by award-winning author Roxane Gay, it was a no brainer to feature Sheena Kamal's No Going Back. It's the third novel featuring Nora Watts who is on the hunt for a gang enforcer with a vendetta against her. She teams up with allies old and new, and is motivated to keep her teenage daughter safe.

Book cover of Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin

Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin (Annick Press, 2020)

The Rohingyas are a persecuted ethnic minority who are predominately Muslim and currently being pushed out of their homes in Myanmar by the government in power. Michelle Aung Thin's latest novel for young readers follows a 14 year-old Rohingya girl's search for her family and journey for survival during a time of escalating political conflict, when her people are being pushed out of their homes by the Myanmar government. This is a moving read that will help the young people in our lives gain better understanding of important global issues and the people around us.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur (Penguin Random House Canada, 2020)

Set in 1800 Korea during the Joseon dynasty, this debut young adult novel follows 16 year old Seol who is an indentured servant at the police bureau. She's helping to investigate a politically charged murder of a noblewoman while also trying to find her missing older brother. Loyalties are tested and Seol needs to decide if she'll speak up in a world that demands her silence.

Book cover of Take Back the Tray by Joshna Maharaj

Take Back the Tray by Joshna Maharaj (ECW Press, 2020)

Chef Joshna Maharaj takes on kitchens in institutions like hospitals, schools and prisons to prove that good food is always possible. She'd know, she's proven it over the last 14 years. Described as "part manifesto, part memoir from the trenches", Maharaj has every intention of starting a revolution with Take Back the Tray.

Book cover of My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong (Simon & Schuster Canada, 2020)

Chinese-American Iris Wang is sent to Beijing, China to visit family in an effort to shake her up from her funk. Expecting a summer of dumplings and tourist hotspots, Iris is instead thrust into a world of the uber rich. My Summer of Love and Misfortune is described as a young adult Crazy Rich Asians. The book will be published on June 2!