Aman Recommends

Celebrate Canadian Asian Heritage Month with us at Peterborough Public Library by exploring some incredible literature written by authors of Asian descent. We have a wide selection of books from renowned Asian writers that capture the rich cultural heritage and diverse experiences of Asian Canadians. Whether you're interested in exploring the history, traditions or contemporary issues facing Asian communities, we have something for you.

So come and check out our Asian Heritage Month picks and be inspired by the stories of celebrated writers. Our collection includes works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more, covering a broad range of topics that reflect the richness of Asian culture and the unique perspectives of Asian Canadians.

Join us in celebrating Asian Heritage Month and discover the incredible literary contributions of Asian authors in Canada.

We Were Dreamers book jacketWe Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Shimu Liu

In his captivating memoir, Shimu Liu offers a humorous, uplifting, and relatable account of his experiences as an immigrant and aspiring actor. Through his refreshingly honest and insightful perspective, Shimu takes readers on a journey from his family's history in China to their immigration to Canada when he was a young boy. He delves into the challenges he faced during his school years and complicated home life, his early passion for acting and his eventual move to Hollywood to pursue his dream.

While the book includes fascinating stories about Shimu's experiences in Hollywood and his ground-breaking work with Marvel, what sets it apart is the close examination of his family history and his complex relationship with his parents. Shimu's memoir represents the immigrant experience and sheds light on recent cultural trends in Hollywood. Overall, the book is a page-turner that offers an honest and astute look at what it means to be a dreamer striving to make a mark in a new country.

The Headmaster's Wager Book JacketThe Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

Vincent Lam's captivating novel, The Headmaster's Wager, is primarily set in Vietnam during the civil war and presents a unique viewpoint through the eyes of Perceval Chen, a Chinese exile who has lived in Vietnam for many years. Despite being a long-time resident of Vietnam, Perceval still identifies as Chinese and has no interest in integrating into the local culture. However, he soon discovers that he is a man without a country, unaware of the dangers that threaten him and those he loves.

The novel is a gripping character study that builds suspense as it delves into the flaws and complexities of its protagonist. Perceval's downfall is caused by his wounded personality and inability to recognize the harsh facts, not by the Vietnam War. The book explores themes around identity, belonging, and the consequences of one's actions, making for a compelling and thought-provoking read. Overall, The Headmaster's Wager is a haunting and well-crafted novel that will hold readers' attention until the end.

The Translation of Love Book JacketThe Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

This beautifully written historical fiction novel provides a captivating depiction of postwar Tokyo from various perspectives. Set in 1946, after the bombings that destroyed the city, the story follows Corporal Matt Matsumoto, a Japanese-American soldier assigned to decipher and transfer Japanese messages to General Douglas MacArthur's department. Despite the uncertainties surrounding letter follow-up, Matt goes above and beyond his responsibilities to guarantee that all are correctly translated, portraying the senders' emotions and words with great care.

The two most memorable are the 13-year-old Aya Shimamura and her father. They were released from a Canadian internment camp and faced with either moving "east of the Rockies" or deportation to Japan. Aya's father chose deportation, and she struggles to cope with her mother's death, who died while they were imprisoned. Aya's inability to speak fluent Japanese makes her a target of ridicule at school.

Overall, the novel presents a touching portrayal of the aftermath of war and its impact on individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Two Trees Make a Forest Book JacketTwo Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts by Jessica J. Lee

Jessica J. Lee's memoir is a poignant exploration of family history and the connection between nature and memory. Through her search for her family's past in Taiwan, Lee reflects on her grandfather's life and her identity as a Chinese-Taiwanese-Canadian. What sets this book apart is how Lee weaves her family's story with her observations of Taiwan's natural world, creating a vivid and lyrical portrait of the country. She uncovers the hidden layers of her family's history and grapples with the complexities of language and cultural identity.

Overall, a beautifully written personal memoir resonates with anyone interested in the intersections of family, history, and nature.

Accidentally Engaged Book JacketAccidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Accidentally Engaged is a romantic comedy novel by Farah Heron that follows the story of Reena Manji, a 30-year-old Indian-Canadian woman struggling to find her place in the world. Reena is a talented baker who has just lost her job, and to make matters worse, her parents are putting pressure on her to get married. In a desperate attempt to appease them, Reena lies about being engaged to Nadim, a man she barely knows. 

However, things get complicated when Nadim comes to town, forcing them to maintain the pretense of their engagement in front of Reena's family and friends. As Reena and Nadim spend more time together, they start to develop real feelings for each other, but their fake engagement threatens to ruin everything. Accidentally Engaged is a delightful romantic comedy that explores the complexities of relationships and family expectations in a multicultural society.

Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related Book JacketOlder Sister, Not Necessarily Related by Jenny Heijun Wills

Jenny Heijun Wills was adopted as an infant from Korea by a white family in a small Canadian town. In her late twenties, she returned to Seoul to reconnect with her biological family and spent four months there. During her stay, she encountered other adoptees and experienced the trauma and violence that came with cultural and linguistic barriers at the transnational adoptee guesthouse where she lived. Her initial conversations with her family were also challenging, adding to the difficulty of her experience.

The book Older Sister delves into the complex relationships among Korean women, including sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, and aunts and nieces. It explores themes of gender, class, race, and ethnicity, highlighting the devastating impact of a child's removal from their family and the potential for growth and forgiveness that can emerge from such struggles. Through vivid and powerful language, the book conveys both the pain and the beauty of Jenny's journey of discovery and connection with her roots.

The White Tiger Book JacketThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger is a novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. It is a darkly comedic story about a young man named Balram Halwai who comes from a poor rural village in India and dreams of escaping his life of servitude as a driver for a wealthy family known as the Storks. Balram sees a way out when he murders his employer and steals a large sum of money, but he soon discovers that life on the run is not as easy as he thought it would be. The novel is a commentary on socio-economic inequalities in India and the corruption and exploitation that perpetuate them. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2008.

Hollow Bamboo Book JacketHollow Bamboo: A Novel by William Ping

Hollow Bamboo is a compelling and heartbreaking novel about the experiences of Chinese immigrants in Canada during the early 20th century. The story revolves around a family of six siblings who leave China to start a new life in Canada but quickly discover that the dreams of a better future are hard to achieve.

As the siblings try to adapt to a new culture and manage the racism and hostility they endure, the novel delves into the difficulties of immigration and integration. Each sibling has unique struggles and experiences, from working in dangerous and exploitative jobs to fighting for the right to an education.

One of the strengths of this novel is its complex and nuanced portrayal of the characters and their relationships. The siblings have a complicated and sometimes fraught dynamic, shaped by their experiences of trauma and displacement, as well as their different personalities and aspirations.

Overall, Hollow Bamboo is a compelling and dramatic novel that sheds light on a critical period in Chinese immigrants' history in Canada.