December 3, 2021

Volume 1, Issue 22

Dear Friends,

Happy holidays! Don’t miss our new webinar on AAPI representation in entertainment on December 15 and our latest podcast episode on dating in China! Scroll down to Spotlight for details. Thanks for your continued support of the 1990 Institute and newsletter. Thanks also for forwarding this newsletter to your friends and family, and for encouraging your friends to subscribe so they can get this content straight to their inboxes too.


Have you seen Marvel’s Shang-Chi, Eternals, or Squid Game, Netflix’s #1 show of all time? You’ll want to tune in as top industry experts dive into AAPIs in film and TV in our webinar on December 15. Register today!


What new books will you be reading or giving as gifts this holiday season?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang


Reading Maxine Hong Kingston’s book, “Woman Warrior,” in a graduate school Asian American literature class changed my life. Not only did the story and the details resonate in all sorts of unexpected ways, like moments in Chinese school and moments with aunties in Chinese restaurants, I realized that for most of my formal education, I had only been taught books by dead white male authors. 

So I decided that to catch up my literary education, I was going to only read books written by people of color, women, and most importantly, Asian American and Pacific Islander women writers. And in these books, I again found myself in their stories. 

Bonus, the stories are not accidentally offensive with stereotyped portrayals and mistaken details.

So every year at the holidays, I love to share the joy of Asian American authors. Here are some of 2021’s best new books:

“The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice” edited by Mai-Linh K. Hong, Chrissy Yee Lau, and Preeti Sharma; with Kristina Wong, Rebecca Solnit, and many other Aunties, University of California Press, 2021. The story of the Auntie Sewing Squad, founded by performance artist Kristina Wong, a massive mutual-aid network of mostly Asian American volunteer aunties who sewed and distributed free masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner, Knopf Publishing Group, 2021; New York Times Best Seller, and a Best Book of 2021 by Time, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal. A lyrical memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P Manansala, Berkley Books, 2021. The first book of Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mysteries, this romcom murder mystery is full of sharp humor, delectable dishes, and a trusty dachshund named Longanisa. CrimeReads, Buzzfeed, BookRiot’s most anticipated crime book of 2021. 

“Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown” by Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho, Ten Speed Press, 2021. The acclaimed chef behind the Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s restaurant shares the past, present, and future of Chinese cooking in America through 90 mouthwatering recipes.

“The Committed” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Press, 2021. The sequel to “The Sympathizer,” which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, tells the story of "the man of two minds" as he comes as a refugee to France and turns his hand to capitalism.

“Correctional: A Memoir” by Ravi Shankar, University of Wisconsin Press, 2021. Poetry professor and only son of South Indian American immigrants reflects on his unexpected encounters with law and order through the lenses of race, class, and privilege, and challenges us to rethink our complicity in the criminal justice system and mental health policies.

“The Bad Muslim Discount” by Syed M Masood, Doubleday Books, 2021. Debut novel that follows two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, an inclusive comic novel about Muslim immigrants finding their way in modern America.

More books and toys for young people next time!


Curated News

Chloé Zhao To Executive Produce Participant’s Limited Scripted Series Inspired By Vincent Chin Story | Deadline  Oscar-winning “Nomadland” and “Eternals” director Chloé Zhao will help bring the overlooked tragedy of Vincent Chin’s murder and the subsequent civil rights case to TV as an executive producer in development through an exclusive agreement with the Chin estate and executor Helen Zia.

Author Karen Tei Yamashita wins lifetime literary achievement award | NBC News  The author of "I Hotel" and "Sansei and Sensibility" is the 34th recipient of the National Book Foundation's award since it was created in 1988.

WATCH: ‘Buried past’ of America’s first Koreatown uncovered in California’s Riverside | PBS NewsHour  Edward Chang, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California at Riverside, says the accidental discovery of America's first Koreatown began with a little map from 1908.

For Detroit’s Japanese Americans, oral histories key to preservation of history, future solidarity | PBS NewsHour  “[Detroit Nisei elders] had important stories that for the most part had not been fully documented or published, and there was a window of opportunity to do this that was closing.”

The Fraying of U.S.-China Relations | The New Yorker  The sinologist Jude Blanchette discusses the Biden-Xi summit and whether we are seeing the beginnings of a new cold war.

WATCH: China’s crackdown on #MeToo movement extends far beyond tennis star Peng Shuai | PBS NewsHour  When tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public view this month after accusing a senior Chinese politician of sexual assault, it caused an international uproar. But several people — activists and accusers alike —have been hustled out of view, charged with crimes or trolled and silenced online for speaking out about the harassment, violence, and discrimination women face every day.

China’s world-class business environment plans ‘address’ some concerns, but ‘implementation key’ | South China Morning Post  China’s State Council has selected six economically developed cities to take part in a pilot program to improve its business environment. European Union Chamber of Commerce in China president Joerg Wuttke welcomed the plans, but said China has fallen short in the past.

John Cho on Netflix's ‘Cowboy Bebop’ remake, his ‘most intense job’ yet | NBC News  "I can do a Western, a screwball comedy, a buddy-cop movie, noir and an action film all in one,” Cho said.


Get tickets for the award-winning documentary Try Harder! followed by Q&A with filmmakers and special guests



  • WEBINAR – Beyond Shang-Chi: Superheroes, Masculinity, and Asian American Representation, Wednesday, December 15 at 10 am PT (1 pm ET)
    Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” and “Eternals” — plus “Squid Game,” Netflix’s #1 show of all time — raised the game for films and TV centered on Asian American characters, and superheroes to boot! In what ways have these visual blockbusters expanded Asian and AAPI representation in America’s mainstream media? How do their stories subvert or substantiate stereotypes around Asian men and women and Asian familial values? Will Hollywood offerings be affected by China’s growing social conservatism and an infusion of Korean cultural influence? This event is presented jointly by the Serica Initiative and the 1990 Institute. Join us as we gather film industry and culture experts to demystify changing notions of gender, superheroes, and AAPI representation in entertainment. Register for free today!



  • PODCAST – A new episode of Bund to Brooklyn is here! Listen to Episode 6: Dating and Masculinity in China with Caiwei Chen about a topic we’ve all been waiting to discuss: dating in China! Specifically, writer Caiwei Chen helps us understand how the dating scene has evolved along with Chinese masculinity through her recent article on the subject in the substack newsletter “Chaoyang Trap”. Caiwei and co-host Siyuan Meng share their personal experiences with dating in the U.S. vs. China, family expectations, and how different types of foreigners are romantically perceived in China.


  • Film festival favorite “Try Harder!” is in theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Tulsa, and the Los Angeles area from December 3-9. At Lowell High School, the top-ranked public high school in San Francisco, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, the majority of the student body is Asian American, and the seniors are aware of the intense competition for the few open spots at their dream schools. (Board member Paul Cheng was a principal at Lowell! Past Board member John Trasviña is also a proud graduate of Lowell.) With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum shows the reality of the intense American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as experienced by the high school seniors living through it. The 1990 Institute co-hosted last night’s launch! Get your tickets for the movie and live post-screening Q&As with the filmmaking team and AAPI luminaries.


Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


1990 Institute
P.O. Box 383  | San Francisco, California 94104


Copyright 2021 The 1990 Institute. All rights reserved. 

Follow Us


Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences