During the month of May we celebrate the contributions and pay tribute to all of the great works that generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders have contributed to American history, society, and culture. The month of May was chosen specifically to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, to which over 15,000 migrant Chinese workers contributed to.
For more information on this month long celebration, visit the Library of Congress' official Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website.
In celebration of all of the contributions by Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, the library has created a curated list of books that explore the realities of the Asian and Pacific Islander American experience. If you would like more, please check out more selections from our cataloging team here.
A tender and sweeping story about what roots people that follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, this film shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home. –(Lionsgate) Watch the trailer here.
A portrait of forbidden sexual awakening set in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in Los Angeles' Koreatown. David Cho, a timid eighteen-year old living with his financially-struggling immigrant parents, chances upon a secret cruising spot when he takes a job at an all-male spa. There he begins to realize hidden desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student. –(Strand) Watch the trailer here.
Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there's a lot to celebrate. –(Lionsgate) Watch the trailer here.
It is about the connection between two very different cultures and the importance of remembrance. When Japan surrendered to the U.S. at the end of World War II, numerous Japanese swords were confiscated and taken back to the States. The Japanese Sword, while once a symbol of wartime aggression, is also deeply embedded in Japan's rich history and spiritual heritage. in order to better understand the past and build a bridge between cultures in the present, an American filmmaker attempts to return one of these surrendered swords to its original owner. –(Gravitas Ventures) Watch the trailer here.
When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana; a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey, an architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, they explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin's stranged relationship with his father, and Casey's reluctance to leave Columbus and her mother. –(Oscilloscope Laboratories) Watch the trailer here.
Wilhelmina is a Chinese-American lesbian and a young surgeon who has kept her sexual orientation secret from her conservative Chinese community in New York. But when her widowed mother becomes pregnant and is kicked out by her own parents, Wil suddenly has to juggle her mother's secrets with her own. Wil has a new romance with Vivian who is a ballet dancer and the daughter of Wil's boss. –(Sony Pictures) Watch the trailer here.
A film based on the novel of the same name, in which you will meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world—conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path through divided loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. –(Mariner Books) Watch the trailer here.
Based on the popular novel of the same name, native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick's family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country's wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors. –(Warner Bros Entertainment) Watch the trailer here.
Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hina's Hawai'i. During a momentous year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian māhū, or transgender, teacher uses traditional culture to inspire a student to claim her place as leader of the school's all-male hula troupe. But despite her success as a teacher, Hina longs for love and a committed relationship. Will her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man fulfill her dreams? An incredible docu-drama that unfolds like a narrative film, Kumu hina reveals a side of Hawai'i rarely seen on screen. –(Kimu Hina) Watch the trailer here.
This semi-autobiographical film introduces us to the spoiled heiress Sasha Lee, who wants to use her trustfund to become the next greatest fashion designer. It’s too bad she’s terrible at it. After her father cuts off her trust fund, she is forced to go back home to learn the ins and outs of the family business in Shenzhen, China. While she reconnects with her younger half-siblings and meets with her father’s new girlfriend (one her own age!) she experiences the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional family while also learning about herself. Watch the trailer here.
Directed by Bing Liu, this documentary follows the lives of three young skateboarders as they grow up in Rockford, Illinois. Keire, Zack, and Bing connect over a love of skateboarding but face unstable home lives, dysfunctional relationships, and the realities of racism encroach on their lives, forcing them to grow up quickly and make tough choices. Watch the trailer here.
Honolulu, Hawaii; the cross roads of the Pacific. It's the place you go if your own island isn't big enough. It's the place you go to disappear. Semu Fatutoa drives a taxi cab in Honolulu. Once he was a Samoa Chieftain, but tragedy compelled him to cover his tattoos and flee from home. Now he drives in circles, slowly forgetting his old life. But his old life is looking for him, a young girl separated from her family on the eve of a disastrous day desperately needs his help. –(Redhead Productions) Watch the trailer here.