Updat­ed May, 2022

Explore ten thought-pro­vok­ing reads that depict some of the many facets of the Jew­ish Asian Amer­i­can experience.

Long Live the Tribe of Father­less Girls: A Memoir

T Kira Madden

This stun­ning, com­pul­sive­ly read­able debut mem­oir tells the sto­ry of T Kira Madden’s com­ing-of-age in the swampy, sur­re­al world of wealthy Boca Raton, Flori­da.… Mad­den gropes through the shad­ows of mem­o­ry and research to uncov­er fam­i­ly secrets and deter­mine who she is as a bira­cial (her moth­er is Chi­­nese-Hawai­ian and her father is white Jew­ish), queer girl.” — Jessie Szalay

Not Your All-Amer­i­­can Girl

Made­lyn Rosen­berg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Lau­ren is Chi­nese Amer­i­can and Jew­ish. She has always been aware of her mixed her­itage — how could she not be, when one of her grand­moth­ers, Wai Po, lives with her fam­i­ly, and the oth­er, Saf­ta, lives near­by? … By the book’s con­clu­sion, she has become one of the more mem­o­rable char­ac­ters in con­tem­po­rary mid­­dle-grade books, a com­plex and self-aware young woman, for­giv­ing of oth­ers’ weak­ness­es and proud of her own new­found strengths.” — Emi­ly Schneider

Jew­Asian: Race, Reli­gion, and Iden­ti­ty for Amer­i­ca’s Newest Jews

Helen Kiy­ong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt

We were curi­ous how oth­er cou­ples — Jew­Asian because of racial, eth­nic, and some­times reli­gious dif­fer­ence — were fig­ur­ing out, in light of these types of dif­fer­ences, how to sus­tain and nur­ture a mar­riage and fam­i­ly.” — Helen Kiy­ong Kim and Noah Samuel Leav­itt, Three Take­aways from Inter­view­ing 110 Jew­Asian’ Cou­ples and Kids”

The Tenth Muse

Cather­ine Chung

The nov­el, set in both the Unit­ed States and Europe, spans sev­er­al decades, from the 1940s through cur­rent times… Sex­ism is one of the novel’s cen­tral themes, and Kather­ine, as a woman who attempts to carve her own path, who, like the tenth muse,’ refus­es to sing in the voice of men,’ is a per­fect tar­get.” — Ona Russell

For­est with Castanets

Diane Mehta

I moved to an all-white New Jer­sey sub­urb at the age of sev­en; Indi­an-Jain and Jew­ish made me a dou­ble minor­i­ty in the States, too. But here, peo­ple were less tol­er­ant. I was the wrong reli­gion and the wrong col­or, and fre­quent­ly elicit­ed foul treat­ment from oth­er chil­dren.” — Diane Mehta, “‘I Am a Bom­bay on the Move’: Grow­ing Up Jew­ish and Jain”

Soles of a Sur­vivor: A Memoir

Nhi Aron­heim

Twelve-year-old Nhi Aron­heim walked through the jun­gles of Cam­bo­dia bare­foot, seek­ing a bet­ter life in Amer­i­ca; the title of her affect­ing mem­oir, Soles of a Sur­vivor, ref­er­ences the phys­i­cal scars she still bears from that treach­er­ous ordeal. Metaphor­i­cal­ly, the title might also rep­re­sent how she has con­sis­tent­ly placed one foot in front of the oth­er despite the pain.… [Aron­heim] rec­og­nizes a par­al­lel between the Jew­ish and Viet­namese cul­tures: the his­to­ry of both is one of resilience and hope, as is her own sto­ry.” — Angela Himsel

Hap­py for You

Claire Stan­ford

[Eve­lyn] is Japan­ese and Jew­ish and doesn’t know where she fits into either culture.…The bril­liance of Hap­py For You is in how it man­ages to con­vey many emo­tions and many lessons. As a satir­i­cal nov­el about tech cul­ture, it’s unset­tling and com­ic. As a nov­el of Evelyn’s growth, it’s both iron­i­cal­ly removed and warm­ly inti­mate.” —Jessie Szalay

The Girl From Foreign

Sadia Shep­ard

Film­mak­er Sadia Shepard’s desire to unearth her family’s roots was sparked by the dis­cov­ery that her South Asian grand­moth­er was Jew­ish, from the Bene Israel com­mu­ni­ty of India. What began as a research and doc­u­men­tary project into that com­mu­ni­ty, how­ev­er, became a deeply per­son­al explo­ration of that dwin­dling Jew­ish cul­ture and its fate in reli­gious­ly par­ti­tioned India and Pak­istan, and ulti­mate­ly a quest to grasp her own com­pli­cat­ed iden­ti­ty.” — Bob Goldfarb

In Our Beau­ti­ful Bones

Zil­ka Joseph

I was born in Mum­bai, and lived in Kolkata, India, before immi­grat­ing to the US. My ances­tors, who were called Shan­war telis—Sat­ur­day Oil Pressers, (tel is the Marathi word for oil, teli, one who press­es oil) as that was the pro­fes­sion many took up. Since they did not work on shan­war—Sat­ur­day, the Sab­bath– they were called Shan­war tel­lis.”—Zil­ka Joseph, In My Bones”

Beau­ti­ful Coun­try: A Memoir

Qian Julie Wang

I approached my first Yom Kip­pur with trep­i­da­tion. It was not the idea of atone­ment that I feared, but the prospect of fast­ing, of choos­ing to go hun­gry. In 1994, when I was sev­en years old, I moved with my par­ents from north­ern Chi­na to New York City, where we lived in pover­ty as undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. Twen­­ty-four years lat­er, I remained haunt­ed by the mem­o­ry of attend­ing ele­men­tary school every day on an emp­ty stom­ach.” —Qian Julie Wang, Hunger”

And forth­com­ing in sum­mer 2022:

Tomor­row and Tomor­row and Tomorrow

Gabrielle Zevin

The Lost Ryū

Emi Watan­abe Cohen

Bec­ca Kan­tor is the edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and its annu­al print lit­er­ary jour­nal, Paper Brigade. She received a BA in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and an MA in cre­ative writ­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of East Anglia. Bec­ca was award­ed a Ful­bright fel­low­ship to spend a year in Esto­nia writ­ing and study­ing the coun­try’s Jew­ish his­to­ry. She lives in Brooklyn.