UA Press book recommendations: APIDA Heritage Month

UA Press book recommendations: APIDA Heritage Month

March 31, 2023

The University of Arizona celebrates Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month in April while most students are still on campus.

University of Arizona Press (UA Press) staff chose books by APIDA authors to spotlight. Publicity Manager Mary Reynolds shares what makes these books special reads. 

Book recommendations

'Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter' by Kathy Jetil-Kijiner

Iep Jaltok is the first published book of poetry written by a Mashallese authorKathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner's writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change in the Marshall Islands. Pulitzer Prize winning writer, poet and social activist Alice Walker described this poetry as "a book to be read slowly. Savored. Admired for its precision of language and emotion.”

'Coconut Milk' by Dan Taulapapa McMullin

Also rooted in the South Pacific, Samoan writer and painter Dan Taulapapa McMullin’s Coconut Milk explores what it’s like to be a queer Samoan in the United States. His poems come from specific encounters, childhood memories, family history, and profound reflections.

Reynolds: "I found sensual beauty along with a group of Samoan fishermen, as queerness appears tenderly embedded in the local culture."

'Navigating CHamoru Poetry' by Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez examines contemporary native CHamoru literature from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam) in Navigating CHamoru Poetry.

Reynolds: “The sailboat on the cover made me pick this book from our shelves, and I appreciated the new interpretation of ‘navigation’ within a culture previously unknown to me. The author is CHamoru and develops a literary methodology called 'wayreading' inspired by Pacific wayfinding, navigation, and canoe traditions. CHamoru voyaging traditions extend to the very invention of the sail and outrigger; in fact, the words for mast, sail, and outrigger are among the oldest words in Austronesian languages. In spite of colonization by three different imperial nations, CHamoru culture maintains its core of enduring values, customs and practices."

'Āina Hānau / Birth Land' by Brandy Nālani McDougall

Poet laureate of Hawai‘i, Brandy Nālani McDougall, explores family, community and connection to place in ‘Āina Hānau / Birth Land (coming in June 2023).

Reynolds: “I loved reading about lands, waters, plants, animals, and humans in English, blended with the indigenous language ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. I laughed at her poems that included witty jabs against American imperialism and capitalism.” Available for pre-order.

'The Politics of Fieldwork: Research in an American Concentration Camp' by Lane Ryo Hirabayashi 

If you’re a researcher, do you consider how your politics influence your work? How are the politics of your principal investigator? Lane Ryo Hirabayashi investigates this issue in The Politics of Fieldwork: Research in an American Concentration Camp, about the work and struggle of Dr. Taimie Tshuchiyama.

Reynolds: “I thought I knew a lot about Japanese American prison camps until I read this book. Dr. Tshuchiyama conducted fieldwork in the early 1940s for a UC Berkeley study of a camp in Poston, Arizona. If the lives of the researchers were difficult in blazing 118 degree heat, imagine what it was like for Japanese-American prisoners! Dr. Tshuchiyama’s letters from the field show her mental, emotional, and physical strain of this ethnographic study. She eventually resigns in protest. Her letters demonstrate how women of color, of junior status in universities, may be subject to exploitation when they study their own 'people' on behalf of senior Euro-American scholars."

Additional resources, links

APIDA Heritage Month virtual events, articles, poems, photos, and more: The Library of CongressNational Archives

Asian Pacific American Student Affairs

Asian American Faculty, Staff & Alumni

Department of Diversity & Inclusion: APIDA Community Resources

About UA Press

The University of Arizona Press is the premier publisher of academic, regional, and literary works in the state of Arizona. UA Press disseminates ideas and knowledge of lasting value that enrich understanding, inspire curiosity, and enlighten readers; and advances the University of Arizona’s mission by connecting scholarship and creative expression to readers worldwide.