Filipino American History Month

Books for Filipino American History month and beyond.

Looking for books to read during Filipino American History Month and beyond? Check out these fiction, poetry, memoir and biography titles available at OPL. 


Letters to Montgomery Clift     America is Not the Heart     Leche   

            The Disinherited     American Son

Letters to Montgomery Clift : a novel / by Noël Alumit
This haunting and compelling novel of a Filipino boy sent to America by his parents to escape the brutal Marcos regime is a story of hope set against a backdrop of abuse and alienation. Following the Filipino tradition of writing letters to the ghosts of ancestors, Bong Bong Luwad begins to write letters to the ghost of Montgomery Clift, at first asking to be reunited with his family, but as he undergoes the pains of adolescence, sexual discovery, and mental illness, the letters form a journal of self-discovery.

America is not the heart / Elaine Castillo 
How many lives fit in a lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America--haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents--she's already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn't ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter--the first American-born daughter in the family--can't resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.

Leche : a novel / R. Zamora Linmark
After thirteen years of living in the U.S., Vince returns to his birthplace, the Philippines. As he ventures into the heat and chaos of the city, he encounters a motley cast of characters, including a renegade nun, a political film director, arrogant hustlers, and the country’s spotlight-driven First Daughter. Haunted by his childhood memories and a troubled family history, Vince unravels the turmoil, beauty, and despair of a life caught between a fractured past and a precarious future.

The disinherited / Han Ong
Manila, 2000. Forty-four-year-old Roger Caracera returns to his birthplace after nearly three decades in the United States. He has come to bury the corrupt, charismatic head of the family sugar dynasty: his estranged father, Jesus. To Caracera's chagrin and pleasure, he is now viewed by his countrymen as the representative American; a local tabloid even refers to him as a General Douglas MacArthur look-alike. And when his father's will is read, Caracera is stunned to discover that he has been left half a million dollars. Unable to live with this burdensome inheritance, he decides to give his money away. But who among the millions of needy Filipinos is he to focus on?

American son : a novel / Brian Ascalon Roley 
Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas's waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family. 


 Poems     Sightseer in this Killing City     Bone Shepherds

Love you : poems / Sarah Gambito
Sarah Gambito explores the recipe as poetic form and a mode of resistance. Through the inclusion of real recipes that she and her family cook from, she brings readers to the table not only to enjoy the bounty of her poems but, slyly, to consider the ways in which Filipino Americans, and people of color in general, are assailed and fetishized. In addition, the book explores the manifold ways that poetry can nourish and provide for us.

Sightseer in this killing city / Eugene Gloria
In the wake of recent presidential elections in the United States and in the Philippines, Gloria's latest collection sharpens his obsession with arrivals and departures, gun violence, displacement, cultural legacy, and the bitter divisions in America. 

Boneshepherds : poems / Patrick Rosal
In his third collection of poems, Patrick Rosal continues his rhythmic march through a world in which violence and beauty mix all too often―a paradoxical world in which the music of Chopin gives way to a knifing, yet the funk of homelessness cannot stifle the urge for human connection.

Memoir & Biography

America is Not the Heart     A Good Provider is One Who Leaves     I Was Their American Daughter     

Growing Up Brown     Sleep in Me     Big Little Man

America is in the heart : a personal history / Carlos Bulosan ; with a new introduction by Marilyn C. Alquizola and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi
First published in 1946, this autobiography of the well-known Filipino poet describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West. 

A good provider is one who leaves : one family and migration in the 21st century / Jason DeParle
When Jason DeParle moved in with Tita Comodas in the Manila slums thirty years ago, he didn't expect to make a lifelong friend. Nor did he expect to spend decades reporting on her family--husband, children, and siblings--as they came to embody the stunning rise of global migration. In A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves, DeParle paints an intimate portrait of an unforgettable family across three generations, as migration reorders economics, politics, and culture across the world. 

I was their American dream : a graphic memoir / Malaka Gharib ; [coloring by Toby Leigh]
 The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents' ideals, learning to code-switch between her family's Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.

Growing up Brown : memoirs of a Filipino American / Peter Jamero 
Peter Jamero's story of hardship and success illuminates the experience of what he calls the "bridge generation" ― the American-born children of the Filipinos recruited as farm workers in the 1920s and 30s. Their experiences span the gap between these early immigrants and those Filipinos who owe their U.S. residency to the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965. His book is a sequel of sorts to Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart, with themes of heartbreaking struggle against racism and poverty and eventual triumph.

Sleep in me / Jon Pineda
Against the backdrop of his teenage sister’s car accident—in which a dump truck filled with sand slammed into the small car carrying her and her friends—Jon Pineda chronicles his sister Rica’s sudden transformation from a vibrant high school cheerleader to a girl wheelchair bound and unable to talk.

Big little man : in search of my Asian self / Alex Tizon
To counteract the steady diet of American television and movies that taught Alex Tizon to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height, he turned outward. Tizon illuminates his youthful search for Asian men who had no place in his American history books or classrooms. And he tracks what he experienced as seismic change: the rise of powerful, dynamic Asian men like Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang, actor Ken Watanabe, and NBA starter Jeremy Lin.

All descriptions provided by the publishers.


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