Asian American all-stars

AWESOME ASIAN AMERICANS: 20 STARS WHO MADE AMERICA AMAZING By Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, illustrated by Juan Calle (San Francisco: Immedium, 2020, 128 pp., $17.95, paperback) Here’s a book describing 20 Asian Americans who became trailblazers, paving the way for all Asians in our country in diverse fields. “Not all are household names. Some […]

On being Asian American in Hollywood

INTERIOR CHINATOWN By Charles Yu (New York: Pantheon Books, 2020, 288 pp., $16, paperback) During Act I of Charles Yu’s comical and award-winning novel, “Interior Chinatown,” I had a flashback to the mid-1980s when my late father, Nisei writer/actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi, landed a role as a Chinese coolie in a murder mystery play. As Yu […]

A window into the resistance at Granada (Amache)

FINDING SOLACE IN THE SOIL: AN ARCHEOLOGY OF GARDENS AND GARDENERS AT AMACHE By Bonnie J. Clark (Louisville, Colo: University Press of Colorado, 2020, 224 pp., $58, hard cover) This new book, as its title suggests, explores the archaeological digs directed by author Bonnie J. Clark on the grounds of the wartime Japanese American confinement […]

The ties that bind

MOUNTAIN MOVERS: Student Activism & The Emergence of Asian American Studies Edited by Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar, Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani, Arnold Pan (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2019, 276 pp., $22, paperback) Those of us who are involved in Japanese American and Asian American Pacific Islander causes and organizations […]

S.F. J-Town’s redevelopment-era transformation

THE GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC: JAPANESE AMERICANS AND THE REMAKING OF SAN FRANCISCO By Meredith Oda (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019, 304 pp., $35, paperback) My first visit to San Francisco’s Japantown occurred in May 1974. It came about when I, along with two colleagues in the Japanese American Project of the Oral History […]

Systemic racism, generational trauma and familial conflicts collide

MASS MURDER IN CALIFORNIA’S EMPTY QUARTER: A TALE OF TRIBAL TREACHERY AT THE CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA By Ray A. March (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2020, 240 pp., $27.95, hard cover) Some in the Nikkei community have wondered why the Tule Lake Committee is feuding with an Indigenous tribe. Some have commented that it looks […]

Miyuki’s lesson in mindfulness

Thank You, Miyuki Written by Roxane Marie Galliez, illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2020, 32 pp., $17.95, hard cover) “Thank You, Miyuki” is the third story in a series about ebullient Miyuki and her kind, caring grandfather. In this tale, Miyuki sees her grandpa doing tai chi and seated meditation. […]

Picture book about a beloved S.F. artist and arts activist

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa Written and illustrated by Andrea D’Aquino (Hudson, N.Y.: 2019, 40 pp., $17.95, hard cover) Andrea D’Aquino, artist and author, introduces young children to Ruth Asawa, a San Francisco institution. The author focuses on the influences that shaped and inspired Asawa’s unique artistry. It begins with […]

A visionary’s life intertwined with art

Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa By Marilyn Chase (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2020, 224 pp., $29.95, hard cover) Ruth Aiko Asawa, one of the most original and prolific artists of the American 20th century, left behind a stunning legacy when she died at age 87 in 2013. “Everything She Touched: The Life […]

A ‘dissatisfied’ artist’s life

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist By Adrian Tomine (Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2020, 168 pp., $29.95, hard cover) Cartoonist Adrian Tomine started writing, drawing and self-publishing his mini-comic, “Optic Nerve,” when he was still a teenager. Despite the odds, this fourth-generation Japanese American (his parents, who divorced when he was 2, are retired professor […]

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