Asian Heritage Month: Nonfiction Spotlight

This week for Asian Heritage Month we’re sharing six nonfiction titles that provide a deep historical landscape across multiple cultures. Including stories of immigration and resilience, as well as some photographs of historical events. 


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Each week during Asian Heritage Month we’ll be serving up recommendations of Asian-Canadian writing from both rising and established literary stars – a great way to add talents new and old to your bookshelf.The book: White Riot (Arsenal Pulp Press)The author: Henry Tsang Why you should read it: White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver explores the conditions leading up to and the impact of a demonstration and parade in Vancouver, Canada, organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League and the ensuing mob attack on the city’s Chinese Canadian and Japanese Canadian communities. Composed of essays and photographs, Henry Tsang offers an intersectional approach to this pivotal moment in the history of racialized communities and a cultural and social context for understanding the current wave of anti-Asian sentiment. “White Riot is an unsettling, shattering must-read. This crafted justice project sets a new standard for voicing and unpacking the entangled cultures of British settler colonial violence, domination, and resistance,” says John Kuo Wei Tchen, co-author of Yellow Peril!: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear.The book: Keep My Memory Safe(Baraka Books)The author: Stephanie ChitpinWhy you should read it: This memoir is a story of immigration, resistance, and academic success. Keep My Memory Safe poetically chronicles life in the temple and in Mauritius, and the move to Canada. Professor Richard Barwell from the  Faculty of Education at University of Ottawa shares that Stephanie Chitpin’s memoir shows “the complexity of human identity, different kinds of family bonds, the significance of education, and the challenges of moving across and between cultures.”The book: Hard Is the Journey(Caitlin Press)The author: Lily ChowWhy you should read it: Award-winning historian and researcher Lily Chow exposes the difficult history of Chinese Canadians in the Kootenay, shedding light on the stories of those who risked everything and often lost their lives in building the Canada we know today. Featuring interviews, documents and newspaper articles brings light to the resilience and accomplishments of Chinese Canadians in the face of injustice.The book: Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls (Renaissance Press)The author: Mariam S. PalWhy you should read it: Ballet is not for Muslim Girls raises, with humour and affection, the fundamental issues of integration and cultural adaptation that all immigrants, from Adelaide to Quebec to Yonkers, grapple with. Ballet is not for Muslim Girls’ poignant yet uplifting story will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, regardless of their origin. Including a personal touch, each chapter begins with a photograph from Mariam S. Pal’s family album.The book: Country of Poxes(Roseway Publishing)The author: Baijayanta MukhopadhyayWhy you should read it: Country of Poxes is the story of land theft in North America through three diseases: syphilis, smallpox and tuberculosis. These infectious diseases reveal that medical care, widely considered a magnanimous cornerstone of the Canadian state, developed in lockstep with colonial control over Indigenous land and life.“This book is an important contribution to our understanding that disease is as political as it is biological. In a highly accessible way, Dr. Mukhopadhyay threads three of our most dreaded diseases into the story of Canada’s development as a settler-colonial state,” shares James Daschuk, author of Clearing the Plains.The book: Bones of Belonging(Dundurn Press)The author: Annahid DashtgardWhy you should read it: Sharp, funny, and poignant stories of what it’s like to be a Brown woman working for change in a white world. A critically acclaimed, racialized immigrant writer and recognized inclusion leader, Dashtgard writes with wisdom, honesty, and a wry humour as she considers what it means to belong — to a country, in a marriage, in our own skin — and what it means when belonging is absent.

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What book are you most looking forward to picking up this Asian Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments or on social media @alllitupcanada.