May 28 - I have been watching PBS documentaries on Asian Americans this month and reading books about them as well. What a story of courage and determination in the face of violence and racism! Some of the historians I saw on the screen were authors of the books in my stack. Here are some rewarding reads.
ON GOLD MOUNTAIN: THE ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR ODYSSEY OF MY CHINESE-AMERICAN FAMILY
by Lisa See is amazing. I read it years ago and was fortunate to see an exhibit based on her family’s history at the Autry Museum of the American West in 2000. I am as stunned by this book today as I was before. Amy Tan wrote that See “weaves together fascinating family anecdotes, imaginative details, and the historical details of immigrant life. . . . Enviably entertaining.”
THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICA: A HISTORY
. Author Erika Lee writes not only about Chinese and Japanese immigrants but also Sikhs, Hmong, Filipinos, Indians, Vietnamese and others. I learned so much! “A powerful, timely story told with method and dignity.” - - Kirkus Reviews ISLAND: POETRY AND HISTORY OF CHINESE IMMIGRANTS ON ANGEL ISLAND, 1910-1940.
“During the time they spent on the island . . . .[immigrants] carved and ink-brushed their concerns into the walls of their barracks. One hundred thirty-five calligraphic poems survived, first discovered by a Federal park ranger after Angel Island was abandoned in 1940. Together with the interviews, the poems - - angry, heroic, wrenchingly forlorn, despairing, provocative, resistant - - convey, as no secondhand or thirdhand account could ever do, what it was like to be Chinese and to be at Angel Island.” - - New York Times
Maizie K. Hirono is the first Asian American woman and only immigrant serving in the Senate. Her recently published autobiography, HEART OF FIRE,
recounts how her mother escaped an abusive marriage in Japan by fleeing to her native Hawaii with her children. “A heartfelt and fiery political memoir and immigrant story.” - - Kirkus Reviews
When I was part of the Autry Museum of the American West staff, I experienced, first hand, the power of family story - Lisa See's family story was the centerpiece to an extraordinary museum exhibition with a separate family hands on gallery based on the See family's long history in Los Angeles. The exhibition, "On Gold Mountain," continues to impact me - in more ways than I can describe here. We were honored to have Lisa, and other See family members, as well as other members of the Chinese-American community, intimately involved in the conception and creation of the exhibition. Read this book and be forever changed!
On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience
July 23, 2000–January 1, 2001
Based on the book of the same title by author Lisa See, On Gold Mountain explored four generations of a Chinese American family who originally immigrated to California in 1867 and whose members have lived and worked in Los Angeles from 1897 to the present. The backdrop for these family and community histories was an even bigger picture that illustrated national tragedies and triumphs, ranging from exclusionary laws in the nineteenth century to burgeoning suburban Chinatowns in the twentieth century. On Gold Mountain reveals how all immigrants to America are faced with similar challenges: choosing between the old world and the new, maintaining culture and language, and balancing long-practiced traditions with the demands of assimilation.
---Footnote by Book Guide BOBBI JEAN
Celebrating ASIAN AMERICAN / PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH
MAY 22...Each year on May 22nd we observe NATIONAL BUY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT DAY.
The day is all about playing music. If you are a musician, it might be time for a new instrument. Maybe you can learn to play a second or third one. If you have never played an instrument before, this celebration may be the motivation you need. I've chosen four guitar books for your review.