Exclusionary policies and widespread discrimination have historically made the Pacific Northwest unwelcoming for immigrants of every generation, often creating spaces where Asian Americans are unwelcome and unsupported. Recently, an uptick of hate and xenophobic violence has called attention to charities such as Stop AAPI Hate and #HATEISAVIRUS, which work to end systemic violence and protect Asian communities in America. A list of charities to support, including the ones above, can be found here. In the meantime, you can help uplift Asian American voices by supporting the works of Asian American authors who create and contribute to the richness, diversity, and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Nicole Chung—All You Can Ever Know
Born in Seattle and raised in Oregon, Nicole Chung writes on adoption, identity, and her experiences growing up in a predominantly white town as an adoptee from Korea. According to Time magazine, “Nicole Chung delved into her own cross-cultural adoption to unpack our collective strengths and weaknesses when it comes to responding to our differences . . . opening readers’ eyes to the complexities of cross-cultural adoption, Chung makes a resounding case for empathy.”
Michelle Zauner—Crying in H Mart
Not only an acclaimed writer but also a musical performer under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner’s debut novel, Crying in H Mart, is a memoir about grief and connection through the lens of food and culture. The Seattle Times called the novel a “warm and wholehearted work of literature, an honest and detailed account of grief over time, studded with moments of hope, humor, beauty, and clear-eyed observation.”
Jamie Ford—The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author of Songs of Willow Frost and Love and Other Consolation Prizes, Jamie Ford delivers a “tender and satisfying” story of the parts of Seattle history that “we would rather not face,” according to Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. The New York Times best seller, The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, follows Henry Lee, the Chinese American narrator, as he navigates his past through the streets of Seattle. Ford himself grew up in Ashland as well as Seattle.
Linda Tamura—Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence
Raised in Hood River, Oregon, Japanese American author Linda Tamura’s sophomore novel, Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence, explores the history of Japanese American soldiers in World War II who returned to Hood River after the war and were imprisoned in camps despite being American citizens. Tamura, author of Hood River Issai: An Oral History of Japanese Settlers in Oregon’s Hood River Valley, is a professor at Willamette University and works to “[celebrate] the history of Japanese Americans and inclusion in Oregon,” according to her website.
E. J. Koh—A Lesser Love
Poet, translator, and winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award for her memoir, The Magical Language of Others, E. J. Koh lives in Seattle and was raised in and around diasporic Korean communities, according to LSU Press. The poetry collection A Lesser Love touches on romantic, platonic, and familial love, as well as the parent-child relationship.
Ruth Ozeki—A Tale for the Time Being
Described by the author as a “particularly Pacific Northwest kind of book,” A Tale for the Time Being follows teenagers Nao in Tokyo and Ruth in British Columbia as they piece together mysteries of the past, unraveling family history and the conflicts of Japanese culture. Ozeki, the author of All Over Creation and My Year of Meats, is a Japanese American filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. According to The New York Times, A Tale for the Time Being is a “delightful yet sometimes harrowing novel . . . many many of the elements of Nao’s story—schoolgirl bullying, unemployed suicidal ‘salarymen,’ kamikaze pilots—are among a Western reader’s most familiar images of Japan, but in Nao’s telling, refracted through Ruth’s musings, they become fresh and immediate, occasionally searingly painful,” with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calling it “beautifully written” and “intensely readable.”
Homebase, a coming-of-age story set in California during the 1950s, follows Chinese American teenager Rainsford Chan as he comes to terms with the truth of the Chinese American experience after the death of his parents. Shawn Wong, a Chinese American author and professor at the University of Washington, also wrote American Knees and has co-edited several anthologies.