7 Queer AAPI Books About Mental Health

Sabeen Shalwani Jun 22, 2021  

2-Jun-22-2021-05-41-54-78-PM

Books that are queer, Asian Pacific Islander-based, and focus on health & mental health? Sign us up. This Pride Month, these are just a few topics covered by the incredible LGBTQ+ AAPI authors and their works we’re highlighting, which range from memoir to fiction to poetry. Through their various forms of writing, these authors explore topics of sexuality, mental health, trauma, queer politics, and the intersections of their complex identities.

Oftentimes, Pride Month celebrations are dominated by cisgender, white male voices, so it is especially important to accentuate the wide array of experiences within the queer community. One of the best ways to show allyship during Pride Month and year-round is to self-educate about those who are the most marginalized, and to not only normalize but to celebrate their existences. 

Deep-dive into queer API mental health with these seven must-reads.

Queer-Written API Books to Delve Into

1. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Topics: Mental Health, Chronic Illness

What It’s About: An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.

2. On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Voung

Topics: Addiction, Domestic Violence, Trauma

Description: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

3. Seasonal Velocities by Ryka Aoki

Topics: Trans Politics & Justice

Description: Seasonal Velocities invites the reader on a fragile and furious journey along the highways and skyways of discovery, retribution, and resolve. Through her poetry, essays, stories, and performances, award-winning writer Ryka Aoki has consistently challenged, informed, and enthralled queer audiences across the United States.

4. More Than Organs by Kay Ulanday Barrett

Topics: Trans Politics & Justice

Description: A love letter to Brown, Queer, and Trans futures, Kay Ulanday Barrett’s More Than Organs questions "whatever wholeness means” for bodies always in transit, for the safeties and dangers they silo.

5. Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Topic: Trauma, Mental Health

Description: Not Here is a flight plan for escape and a map for navigating home; a queer Vietnamese American body in confrontation with whiteness, trauma, family, and nostalgia; and a big beating heart of a book. Nguyen’s poems ache with loneliness and desire and the giddy terrors of allowing yourself to hope for love, and revel in moments of connection achieved

6. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Topic: Disability Justice

Description: In this collection of essays, longtime activist and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all.

7. Inscrutable Belongings: Queer Asian North American Fiction (Asian America) by Stephen Hong Sohn

Topic: Trauma, Sexual Health

Description: Inscrutable Belongings brings together formalist and contextual modes of critique to consider narrative strategies that emerge in queer Asian North American literature. Collectively, the texts that Sohn examines bring to mind foundational struggles for queer Asian North Americans (and other socially marginalized groups) and confront a broad range of issues, including interracial desire, the AIDS/HIV epidemic, transnational mobility, and postcolonial trauma.


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