Introduction

In May, the United States observes Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, which celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. In honor of AAPI Month, the No Flying, No Tights Features Team has created a list featuring stories by Asian creators. From powerful memoirs to fantastic fiction, we hope you will find a title or more to enjoy!

Displacement

Kiku Hughes

When Kiku is visiting San Francisco, she is suddenly transported back in time and finds herself incarcerated in one of the World War II internment camps. As she lives what her grandmother experienced, Kiku finds herself considering how this experience has affected her and her family. With captivating artwork and thoughtful tone, this is a compelling read.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy time travel historical fiction such as Devil's Arithmetic and Kindred

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Japanese-American

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Japanese-American
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Himawari House

Harmony Becker

When Nao decides to return to Japan to reconnect with her heritage, she joins Himawari House, where she meets Tina and Hyejung, two other girls who have their own reasons for being in Japan.
Over the course of a year, the three girls find joy, love, and heartbreak together in this heartwarming story of friendship and self-discovery.

Appeals to

Readers looking for stories about connection, reconnection, and self-discovery; readers looking for the nostalgia of studying abroad

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Japanese-American

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Japanese-American, Korean, Singaporean
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Made in Korea

Jeremy Holt

George Schall

A childless couple adopts Jesse, a young Korean girl with a voracious, inquisitive mind. She also happens to be an AI! As Jesse tries to establish her identity, she will have to grapple with the rules and expectations her family, her creator, and others place upon her.

Appeals to

Fans of science fiction that grapples with challenging questions such as identity, autonomy, and technology

Content Notes

There is a fair amount of violence, including guns and an active shooter situation. There is also some brief nudity.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Korean-American
  • Gender Identity: Nonbinary

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Korean-American
  • Gender Identity: Trans
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Magic Fish

Trung Le Nguyen

Tien loves to read fairy tales with his family. He wants to come out but is unable to find the word for gay in Vietnamese and doesn't want to worry his mother, who is already concerned about his grandmother who she left behind. Can Tien and his mother find their way through the stories they both love?

Appeals to

Lovers of fairy tales and retellings; readers who believe in the power of stories

Content Notes

A little blood violence; very brief homophobia

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Vietnamese American

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Vietnamese American
  • Sexuality: Gay
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Measuring Up

Lily LaMotte

Ann Xu

Cici misses her grandmother who used to cook with her all the time; however, their time together became severely limited when Cici and her family moved from Taiwan t0 the United States. When Cici learns of a kids cooking contest, she decides to enter so that her grandmother can visit for her birthday. However, the cooking contest will challenge Cici's skills as she has only ever made Taiwanese food! Will Cici measure up?

Appeals to

Readers who love stories focusing on food and family

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Taiwanese-American

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Taiwanese-American
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Mech Cadet Yu

Greg Pak

Takeshi Miyazawa

Stanford is just a janitor at Sky Corps Academy, working with his Mom until a mech falls from the sky and bonds with him. Suddenly he's a student and learning how to navigate piloting, politics, and the potential end of the world. Mech Cadet Yu is funny, action-packed, touching, and ultimately hopeful.

Appeals to

This is a mech series for mech fans so anyone who loved series like Voltron and movies like Pacific Rim will love Mech Cadet Yu. But it is also enjoyable for readers that enjoy the human side of sci-fi stories, or sci-fi that isn't heavy on the tech side of things.

Content Notes

Occasional curse words like "hell" or "damn" but otherwise about Power Rangers level of violence.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Korean-American
Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Messy Roots

Laura Gao

Laura Gao lived with her family in Wuhan and knew a different one than the one shown in media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Laura moves to the United States, she grapples with her family's expectations, her own goals, and her sexuality. Told in a heartfelt, honest manner, Messy Roots is a wonderful coming-of-age tale.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy memoirs that explore themes of immigrant identity and coming of age will likely like Messy Roots.

Content Notes

Racism, homophobia

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Chinese-American
  • Sexuality: Queer

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Chinese-American
  • Sexuality: Queer
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Pashmina

Nidhi Chanani

Priyanka is going through a lot: she's bullied at school, her surrogate uncle is pulling away, and her mother won't tell her about her father. When she finds a pashmina in an old suitcase, she sees visions of India. Using her own money, Pri journeys to India to learn more about her family history, but she will find so much more.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy coming of age stories; readers who enjoy magical realism

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Indian American

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Indian American
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Seance Tea Party

Reimena Yee

Lora and her friends used to have all kinds of adventures, but now all they want to do is talk about dating, makeup, and what's popular online. A lonely tea party leads to Lora re-discovering her childhood friend: the ghost Alexa. Being with Alexa makes Lora feel more confident and happy, but unfortunately, even ghosts don't last forever. It's a story of loss and self-discovery, acknowledging the past while moving into the future.

Appeals to

The discussions of death and grief make it a great choice for readers of Snapdragon, while the aspects of telling stories to understand the world make it a good read for fans of The Magic Fish. If it's witchy things that pull readers in, then it's an easy suggestion for readers of The Okay Witch.

Content Notes

The story does center on a ghost, so there are discussions of death and grief.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Malaysian
Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Superman Smashes the Klan

Gene Luen Yang

Gurihiru

Based on a storyline in the radio play "The Adventures of Superman" from 1946, Yang brings us a Superman story that is very different from the Superman comics most readers are used to. Instead of fighting alien warlords or billionaire megalomaniacs, Superman is fighting racism and intolerance growing right under his nose in Metropolis. When the Klan of the Fiery Cross attacks a family of Chinese immigrants who just moved to Metropolis, the daughter of this family helps Superman get to the bottom of who is responsible for the attacks. All the while, Superman is also coming to terms with the fact that he is an outsider even though he's lived in America (and on Earth) most of his life.

Appeals to

Both long-time fans of Superman and those who love Gene Luen Yang's work but have never been interested in superhero comics will find something to love here.

Content Notes

Racism, Hate crimes

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6756

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6007
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Waiting

Keum Suk Gendry-im

Korean cartoonist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim weaves her mother's stories with others' testimonies to create the story of an old woman who lost her son during their flight to South Korea. She wants nothing more than to reunite with him during one of the special reunions, but time is running short. With quiet black and white illustrations and a lens that is both personal and historical, readers will find themselves engrossed.

Appeals to

Fans of historical fiction--especially readers curious about the Korean War and its continued impact on Korean citizens--will find this work engaging and powerful.

Content Notes

There is little on-screen violence, but the book is weighty as it portrays displacement and its impact and touches upon sexual assault.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Korean

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Korean
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

They Called Us Enemy

George Takei

Harmony Becker

This graphic novel details actor and writer George Takei's experience in a Japanese internment camp as a child. Takei recounts his memories of his childhood in the camps with the hindsight of an adult, adding historical details and perspective on his parent's sacrifices that he only learns after the fact. This graphic memoir is a reminder that the crimes of our country's past are as not as far away as they sometimes seem.

Appeals to

Readers with an interest in World War II will enjoy this rich first-person narrative. Manga lovers will appreciate the art style, even if the subject matter is a break from their usual reading.

Content Notes

Racism

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6850
  • Sexuality: 7028

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5975
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Tidesong

Wendy Xu

In order to train for the entrance exams to a prestigious magic school, Sophie moves to live with the great aunt she's never met. What she finds is a lot of trouble: Aunt Lan doesn't seem to like her, she's struggling with training, and then there's the mess with Lir, a young dragon with amnesia. But what seemed like an impossible knot comes free when Sophie admits what she really feels, and speaks up for what she really wants.

Appeals to

This is a great pick for fans of magical coming-of-age stories like The Witch Boy, films with beautiful environments inspired by mythology like Spirited Away, and gentle stories of magic like Sprite and the Gardener.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Chinese-American
Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Woman World

Aminder Dhaliwal

Woman World, the graphic novel, brings together Aminder Dhaliwal's hilarious and widely popular comics series that she originally posted on her Instagram into one print volume. In these comics, Dhaliwal imagines a world without men, and with this premise, she is able to make satirical commentary on patriarchy and womanhood. While the end of the world may not seem that funny, Dhaliwal's comics almost make you forget that her world is post-apocalyptic.

Appeals to

Webcomic fans will love this funny and light collection of comics.

Content Notes

Nudity

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6832
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

  • Tayla

    | She/Her Branch Librarian

    Features Writer

    Tayla Cardillo (she/her) is the Branch Librarian of the Oaklawn branch of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI. She is also a member of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table and the chair of the Rhode Island Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.

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