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Midway through Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I asked several Bay Area authors about the books in which they first recognized themselves.

In college, when Meng Jin began secretly writing literature, she turned fervently to the Western canon for instruction: Flaubert, Woolf and Tolstoy.

“It was not just that I considered these works more legitimate, more valuable, because I saw them on course syllabi.

I had never seen a voice like hers on the page before, a voice I recognized, a voice that sounded just like mine.

The books “helped me recognize that my heritage, and all the gifts it has given me, is worthy of literature.”

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