The Asian American Book Club held its soft launch with a Lunar New Year party at Hana House in Brooklyn, N.Y., on February 15. The event was coproduced by Hachette Book Group and Kundiman, the Asian American literary advocacy organization.

The Asian American Book Club (AABC) was cofounded by Sung Choi, a retired financier, and Charles Kim, the publishing veteran who, in 2022, cofounded Third State Books, the San Francisco–based general-interest publisher dedicated exclusively to publishing Asian American writers. The AABC aims to advocate for Asian American readers and writers, and has partnered with allied organizations including the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (AAPLA) and the Asian American Writers' Workshop.

The Brooklyn party featured readings and book signings from three Hachette authors—Curtis Chin (Everything I Learned at a Chinese Restaurant), Kat Chow (Seeing Ghosts), and Matthew Salesses (The Sense of Wonder)—and three poets who work with Kundiman: Janine Joseph (Decade of the Brain, Alice James Books), Subhashini Kaligotla (Bird of the Indian Subcontinent, the Great Indian Poetry Collective), and Sahar Muradi (Octobers, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press). It was emceed by comedian Youngmi Mayer, who has a memoir, I’m Laughing Because I’m Crying, forthcoming from Hachette this year.

The event attracted some 250 people from the New York Asian American community, as well as people from the industry, including new Hachette U.S. and U.K. CEO David Shelley; Nana K. Twumasi, v-p and publisher of the Balance imprint at Hachette; and Carrie Bloxson, v-p and chief diversity officer of Hachette.

“It’s meaningful for us to be able to work with aligned and allied institutions like the Asian American Book Club and Kundiman,” Bloxson said. “DEI is integral to Hachette Book Group’s identity, and holding these types of live events helps build a sense of community and support networks in real life. It’s central to the way we work now. And it’s not something you can do over Zoom.”

Kim concurred: “Between Covid and the wave of anti-Asian hate, many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have felt isolated and unsafe. Our goal at the Asian American Book Club is simply to prioritize Asian American readers and to provide them a safe place, both in real life and online, to share their love of books and culture.”

The Asian American Book Club will begin accepting memberships starting in May, which will include book boxes curated with the AAPLA, with swag, as well as invitations to 2-4 live and online events per month. It will host its next event, the AAPI Unity Party at Hana House on March 22, in conjunction over a dozen AAPI non-profits.