Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looking For Asian Guy Protagonists in YA Novels

I need a dozen good recent novels (2007-2010) featuring Asian or Asian American teen guy protagonists. Can you help? I've found five (three featuring adoptees, interestingly), and am on the hunt for seven more:

STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE by David Yoo
(Hyperion, 2008)

Before he met Mia, resigned loser Albert Kim was too busy dodging high school sociopaths to imagine having a girlfriend. Much less the adorable ex-girlfriend of alpha jerk Ryan Stackhouse. Yet somehow, by the end of a summer working at an inn together, Al and Mia are "something."

Then September arrives with a thud: Ryan has been diagnosed with cancer and needs Mia at his side. As the school year turns into one giant tribute to Ryan, Al can't help but notice that Ryan may not be quite who everyone--particularly Mia--thinks he is. Before his heart shatters completely, Al has just a few more things to point out...


KIMCHI AND CALAMARI by Rose Kent
(HarperCollins, 2007)

Kimchi and calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, and it's exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn't an adopted Korean drummer—comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given:
(1) his face in the mirror
(2) his proud Italian family.
And now Joseph has to write an essay about his ancestors for social studies. All he knows is that his birth family shipped his diapered butt on a plane to the USA. End of story. But what he writes leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of shattered dishes—and self-discovery that Joseph never could have imagined.

AMERICAN-BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang
(First Second Books 2007)

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese-American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a basketball player, a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...


ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Ann Burg
(Scholastic 2009)

Two years after being airlifted out of war-torn Vietnam, Matt Pin is haunted: by bombs that fell like dead crows, by the family—and the terrible secret—he left behind.

Now, inside a caring adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events force him to choose between silence and candor, blame and forgiveness, fear and freedom.


SOPHOMORE UNDERCOVER by Ben Esch
(Hyperion 2009)

For fifteen-year-old, adopted Vietnamese orphan Dixie Nguyen, high school is one long string of hard-to-swallow humiliations. He shares a locker with a nudist linebacker, his teachers are incompetent, and he's stuck doing fluff pieces for the school newspaper. But Dixie's luck takes a turn when he stumbles across one of the jocks using drugs in the locker room; not only does he finally have something newsworthy to write, but the chance to strike a blow against his tormentors at the school as well.

However, when his editor insists he drop the story and cover homecoming events instead, Dixie sets off on his own unconventional-and often misguided-investigation. He soon discovers that the scandal extends beyond the football team to something far bigger and more sinister than he ever thought possible. Once he follows the guidelines of his hero, Mel Nichols (journalism professor at Fresno State University and author of the textbook Elementary Journalism) this high school reporter just might save the world. That is, of course, if Dixie can stay out of juvenile hall, the hospital, and new age therapy long enough to piece it all together.

28 comments:

alvina said...

Does hapa count? If so, OPERATION REDWOOD has a hapa male protagonist.

MOONSHADOW: RISE OF THE NINJA by Simon Higgins coming out this Spring--Japanese male main character (set in ancient Japan).

Also, if the main love interest counts, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL by Justina Chen Headley: Jacob is Chinese American (also adopted!).

I think on this some more...

Amanda said...

Ooh, I was going to mention North of Beautiful (which I love, love, love), and there's also Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke, which doesn't come out until March, but the male protagonist is Vietnamese.

Sherry said...

House of the Red Fish by Graham Salisbury

Mrs.Westlake said...
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Mrs.Westlake said...

BOYS WITHOUT NAMES by Kashmira Sheth was just published.

Also, BEACON HILL BOYS by Ken Mochizuki.

Karen Mahoney said...

Wow, that's a really tough one... I have an Asian guy (Indian) in my forthcoming debut YA novel, but he's the white protag's best friend - not the main character. He *will* have a POV in book 2, though, but that's not out until 2012.

There isn't enough out there! Am watching the comments with interest. :)

MissAttitude said...

I have all these books on my tbr list. Except Kimichi 7 Calamri, which I added :) This post brought to my attention the fact taht I haven't read a single book with an Asian teen guy. They are out there though so I'll work on that.

I'm currently reading Year of the Horse by Justin Allen and the mc is Chinese. It's historical fiction Western with a bit supernatural, it's good.

Haven't read these but people have raved to me about Samurai Shortstop by Allan Gratz. Also try Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury, Finding My Hat by Jon Son, Beacon Hill Boys by Ken Mochizuki, Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes.

I think My Most excellent Year by Steve Kluger has an Asian American teen guy protag as well.

Disclosure: I got some of these recommendations from this list http://theyayayas.wordpress.com/booklists/asian-american-protagonists-in-ya-fiction/ So helpful!

Karen Mahoney said...

Oooh, that list is awesome...

*grabs link*

Cheers, Ari! :)

Eveline Chao said...

hi there! you don't know me but i'm a friend of alvina's who also used to work in publishing. i myself had the same question a couple months & found the following titles:

http://www.beijing-kids.com/magazine/2009/10/16/For-the-Boys

pretty much the same as your list but with the addition of david yoo's earlier title and also a cool comics collection called "secret identities" published by the new press.

...MY NAME IS ELENI AND I AM A BOOKAHOLIC... said...

Here is a few:

1) Well, Simon is Asian but he isn't really a protagonist, but he does play a huge role in the Mortal Instrument Series (City of Bones;Ashes;Glass) by Cassandra Clare.

2) Blood Ninja by Nick Lane

3) This is a bit old, it came out in 2003 so don't know if you can use it - WANDERING WARRIOR by Da Chen

4) I'm not sure if this would be considered YA or Middle Grade: ARCHER'S QUEST by Linda Sue Park

5)Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury

It's not the best list, their isn't many male Asian's in YA, there's a bunch of female ones though, I tried though, hope I've helped!

Eveline Chao said...

oh and there's also "stanford wong flunks big-time" by lisa yee, but that's MG and not YA.

Mitali Perkins said...

Thanks, all. Very helpful! Keep them coming!

Pooja said...

Prior to 2007: SWIMMING IN THE MONSOON SEA by Shyam Selvadurai.

How 'bout crossover titles? LONDONSTANI by Gautam Malkani?

alvina said...

These are also MG, but the Jeff Stone ANCESTORS series.

And this is really old, but NECESSARY ROUGHNESS by Marie Lee.

Also mostly older, but also Laurence Yep's books.

Becky Levine said...

Yes, My Most Excellent Year fits the bell--not to mention being a wonderful read. :)

Chen said...

Stop me if you've heard this one before was one of the three best books I read last year, all categories included. Wonderful!

...MY NAME IS ELENI AND I AM A BOOKAHOLIC... said...

CROSSING by Andrew Xia Fukuda

Megan Frazer said...
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Dee Garretson said...

Does it need to be the main character? THE SILVER PHOENIX, BEYOND THE KINGDOM OF XIA has the character of Chen Yong as the love interst of the MC. The book is YA fantasy, set in China.

Dee Garretson said...

Oh, I forgot to add the author's name to my post! Cindy Pon wrote THE SILVER PHOENIX

Anonymous said...

Hey Mitali,
Honored to have KIMCHI & CALAMARI on your list!
There is also ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT by Jordan Sonnenblick. It also features an adopted Asian boy. My thinking is so many have adopted protagonists because of the inherent identity issues/conflicts presented.

Rose Kent

writerjenn said...

Escaping the Tiger, by Laura Manivong, comes out in about a week.

And if I remember correctly, I think Nick in Neal Shusterman's Everlost is biracial/Asian-American.

a. fortis said...

I'd love to second Samurai Shortstop--it's really good! And yes, Laurence Yep is a good author to look at.

I can think of a hapa love interest--Graves in STRANGE ANGELS by Lili St. Crow--but he's definitely more of a sidekick than a protagonist. Plus the way he's depicted is a little funky.

There's KAMPUNG BOY and TOWN BOY, graphic novels by Lat set in Malaysia.

Anne Sibley O'Brien said...

Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo is a wonderful, wry depiction of the Korean-American experience, but the Asian male protagonist is only ten, I believe.

David Yoo's first book, which someone else mentioned, is Girls for Breakfast.

This is great, Mitali - lots of new titles to read!

xo Annie

Heather Zundel said...

Ooh! I second Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz! I have read it and it was wonderful. Of course, I could have been the one raving to Ari.

LaurieA-B said...

Mismatch by Lensey Namioka, 2006. Chinese-American girl falls for Japanese-American boy. Great high-school novel (both are musicians, who meet in orchestra).

The Floating Lush said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Floating Lush said...

Stupid html. Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology looks really interesting; I've only just checked it out, so I'm not sure if it's *entirely* appropriate, but it might be worth a look. There's also The Eternal Smile by Derek Kirk Kim and Secret Asian Man by Tak Toyoshima. I am apparently all about the graphic novel today.

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