opular culture in America rarely looks Asian. Only one percent of Hollywood lead roles go to people of Asian descent, and the canon of “Great American novels” never includes Asian authors). Even when Asian characters are featured in books or movies or prime time TV, it’s often as the bumbling sidekick, evil warlord, suffering refugee, or silent manicurist—or just turned into white people in yellowface (I’m looking at you, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Emma Stone).
But sometimes—and, thankfully, increasingly often—we are seen, especially when we take matters into our own hands and create stories and characters that reflect the diversity of America. Feeling seen is a powerful thing. For Asian American Pacific Islander month, we asked authors that we admire about their first experience reading work by an Asian American writer, to highlight the importance of representation in American literature. Here are the trail-blazing Asian American writers made it possible for a new generation to see themselves as writers.
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