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Friday, July 18, 2014

The API Flying Bookshelf: Bringing Important Stories to Seattle, One Location at a Time

Posted by on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Some of the books on display last night.
  • pbc
  • Some of the books on display last night.

Last night was the launch party celebrating the debut of the API Flying Bookshelf, a new roving library of books about the Asian & Pacific Islander experience that will take up temporary residence in cafes around the city. The Flying Bookshelf's first location is on the mezzanine level of the Eastern Cafe, right next to the Seattle Pinball Museum in the International District.

I spoke with Bookshelf co-founder Derek Dizon about the Bookshelf's origins. He said the Bookshelf was inspired by the Asian American Curriculum Project, a bookstore in San Mateo that specializes in titles by Asian and Pacific Islander authors. Dizon, a former Asian American studies major at the UW, explained the need for the Bookshelf by saying there just aren't that many outlets for API authors. "We wanted to make them accessible to the community," he says, and so the Flying Bookshelf, with a staff of ten volunteers, was born. The volunteers each curate a specific category—fiction, history, cinema, art—and will organize a series of open mics and author events. Right now the library features fewer than a hundred titles and a handful of zines, but they're always accepting donations of titles or expertise. You check titles out on a simple honor system: If you're interested in a book—say, Virgil Mayor Apostol's Way of the Ancient Healer, you simply pull the library card out of it, write your name and the date on the card, and leave it in the supplied basket.

To celebrate the launch of the Bookshelf, a few dozen young professionals and UW students held an open mic featuring hiphop; accounts of growing up in the Hawaiian diaspora ("my birth certificate is crowded," the story began); and recommendations of favorite authors (one reader suggested Chang Rae Lee—specifically Native Speaker—and Geo from Blue Scholars).

The API Flying Bookshelf will be at the Eastern Cafe through September. Dizon says they're "always looking for places to host. If anyone would like to host us, we'd love to hear from them. I promise we will bring you business." It's such a great idea for a community organization, a kind of wandering institutional book club spotlighting an underrepresented community; if the API Flying Bookshelf takes off, it's not hard to imagine a whole fleet of different Flying Bookshelves landing in communities all over Seattle. When you get right down to it, the whole thing—the books, the Bookshelf, the readings—is "us telling our own story," as Dizon explained to the audience. I can't think of a worthier cause.


Comments (5) RSS

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Is Dizon of Asian heritage?
And what kind?

You know that China and Japan and Thailand and the Philippines etc are separate countries and every cultural item must be properly represented by a person from that nation and even ethnic group within that nation.

If not then his whole project sounds like cultural appropriation and you should not be praising it but condemning it for the wickedness it is.
Posted by caution&daring on July 18, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Hi caution&daring, it's best to steer clear of the "What kind of Asian are you" question..However, yes Dizon is part of the API community. The project celebrates API authors, whose stories and experiences are unique and diverse (there are many different cultural identities that fall under/intersect with the API umbrella). As the article states, the Flying Bookshelf is accepting donations and suggestions for what to add to their growing library. It's a really awesome project, head over to Eastern Cafe and see for yourself :)
Posted by flowers206 on July 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
Crap, I didn't know it was yesterday; I thought Paul posted about it a few days ago, when I couldn't make it.

Maybe read up on Asian American history or go take an Asian American Studies course so you don't sound completely ignorant?
Posted by seatackled on July 18, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Nagabuaya 4
I was tickled to read about and see Way of the Ancient Healer included in the photo! Thank you, Paul, for posting this. The API Flying Bookshelf is a great concept!
Posted by Nagabuaya http:// on October 8, 2014 at 7:54 PM · Report this
Nagabuaya 5
I was tickled to read about and see Way of the Ancient Healer included in the photo! Thank you, Paul, for posting this. The API Flying Bookshelf is a great concept!
Posted by Nagabuaya http:// on October 8, 2014 at 8:30 PM · Report this

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