May 4, 2012

National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

The month of May is officially proclaimed as National Asian - Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. The month long celebration is meant to promote the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. As proud Asians, Braine and I, would like to help celebrate this month by sharing with you as much about our culture through books, folk lore/tales, movies, and our weekly Girl Crush Monday feature.

First, we'll start with a few of my favorite books written by Asian authors or  feature Asian women and have been made into Hollywood films. The following books are in my All-Time Favorite and Highly Recommend lists. Each book is very well written and tells powerful and unforgettable stores about Asian women and the stuggles they each endured. As an Asian woman, I was uplifeted by each of their stories and reminded me of how strong, determined and resiliant Asian women can be and how my culture strongly values family, loyalty and friendship.

Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden
Vintage Books
September 1997
Purchase from Amazon

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Lisa See
Random House
June 2005
Purchase from Amazon

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan(2011)
Directed by Wayne Wang
Starring Gianna Jung, Vivian Wu, Li Bingbing, Russell Wong


The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan
GP Putnam's Son
March 1989
Purchase from Amazon

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Directed by Wayne Wang
Starring Ming-Na, Rosalind Chao, Lauren Tom, France Nuyen, Tamlin Tomita, Kieu Chinh

1 comment:

  1. I love Memoirs, Ziyi is fine but for the sake of authenticity I wish they picked a Jap to play the part.


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