May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month which was officially designated and signed into law in 1992. This month is also known as Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.
Library of Congress defines the geographic areas of the world as the following:
“. . . A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).”
Asia is the world’s largest continent in size and population with fifty countries and two dependencies: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan(Asian), Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, East Timor, Egypt (Asian), Georgia (Asian), India, Indonesia (Asian), Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan (Asian), North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia (Asian), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey (Asian), Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and two dependencies: Gaza Strip and West Bank. There are hundreds of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, languages and dialects in each country. Despite past and present differences, some peaceful and some violent, the overall canon of literature is vast, going back centuries, covering all manner of interest and thought: religion, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, cooking, art, music, dance, theater, business, sex, love, war, government, and multitudes of stories and folklore. In the written word, the past and the present are alive and well-read in the United States and abroad. May is the month to honor and celebrate this rich heritage from authors who live here and from those who live in the various countries and regions.
The Literature and Fiction Department of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library currently has a representative display of novels, short stories, poetry, and biographies. The following are reviews of a very small selection of current books:
Fresh off the boat: a Memoir by Eddie Huang
Eddie Huang is one sassy, driven, great cook and owner of Baohaus a popular, lively restaurant in New York’s East Village where Taiwanese street food is served. His fast-paced autobiography, is funny, candid, irreverent and spiced with urban slang.
Persona : a Biography of Yukio Mishima by Naoki Inose
Yukio Mishima is one of modern Japan’s greatest and most controversial writers whose life was a combination of ancient Japanese traditions and western modernism. This is a thoroughly researched, lengthy biography of a major modern writer.
The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage
A beautiful book with vibrant photographs of prepared foods and scenes in Lebanon. Main dishes include meat, poultry and fish, but the delectable array of vegetable dishes could convert any omnivore to a vegan. At the end of this comprehensive book is a selection of recipes from notable chefs and food writers.
The Innocence of Objects by Orhan Pamuk
The book reflects the author’s interest in collections of memorabilia and his first love which was painting until he decided to become a novelist at age twenty-three.
The Young Man in the Gray Suit by A. J. Hacikyan
This is a sequel to the epic Summer Without Dawn and can be read on its own. In the 1950’s Nour Kadam attempts to reconcile his Armenian family’s past history, the Armenian Genocide and his own life as a successful Turkish lawyer.
Other recommended recent and new books are: Cooked Seed : a Memoir by Anchee Min; Every Grain of Rice : Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop; Revenge by Yoko Ogawa; A Woman in the Crossfire : Diaries of the Syrian Revolution by Samar Yazbik.