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Texts and Authors for Teaching Asian American Literature

Recommendations from five NYC educators

Editor’s Note: To mark the 20th anniversary of September 11, we invited five NYC educators to discuss teaching Asian American literature and using it to help students understand 9/11 and its ripple effects. During and after the conversation, “Teaching Asian American Literature After 9/11,” they each recommended several Asian American texts and authors. Some of these texts help them and students connect to conversations about a post-9/11 world, some encourage students to critically engage with how Asian Americans write and are written. Others are texts that educators use to shape their own approach to teaching and reading Asian American literature in the classroom. As teacher Shreya Vora says, each text “gives us imaginative space to talk, gives us this bounded common ground.” 

Novels and Story Collections

Ayad Akhtar, Homeland Elegies 
Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land, The Resisters
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth
Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker
Eugene Lim, Dear Cyborgs
Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie
Fatima Farheen Mirza, A Place for Us
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer, The Committed, The Refugees
Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor Was Divine
Patricia Park, Re Jane
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown


Ayad Akhtar, Disgraced
David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly
Jiehae Park, Peerless
Stuyvesant students, edited by Annie Thoms, with their eyes

Essay Collections and Memoirs

Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
Mira Jacob, Good Talk 
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior
Matthew Salesses, Craft in the Real World
Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror

Scholarly Works

Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings
Edward Said, Orientalism
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?

Poetry Collections

Kimiko Hahn, Mosquito & Ant (and many other books)
Jason Koo, More Than Mere Light (and other books)
Ishle Yi Park, The Temperature of This Water
Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Individual Poems, Stories, and Essays

Hayan Charara, “Terrorism” (Poetry magazine)
Jason Koo “No Rest” (Yes Poetry)
Eugene Lim, “The Nameable
Viet Thanh Nguyen, pieces in Time and the New York Times
Nina Sharma, “Shithole Country Clubs” (The Margins)

Anthologies and Journals

Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction. Edited by Jessica Hagedorn.
Go Home! an anthology of Asian diasporic writers edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. (Especially the pieces “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” by Alice Sola Kim, “The Stained Veil” by Gaiutra Bahadur, “Meet a Muslim” by Fariha Róisín, and “Esmeralda” by Mia Alvar.)
Poetry magazine (July/August 2017), “The Asian American Poets Issue.” Edited by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Tarfia Faizullah, and Timothy Yu.
Poetry magazine (July/August 2019), featuring global Anglophone Indian Poems. Edited by Kazim Ali and Rajiv Mohabir.