NYC’s first Asian American bookstore highlights works by immigrant authors

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According to NBC News, Yu spent the last year converting a funeral supply shop in Manhattan’s Chinatown into the city’s first Asian American woman-owned bookstore. The name of the store is a play on her last name as well as a tribute to her mother, a GoFundMe page launched in order to raise funds for the bookstore, said: “[T]he initials YM are actually my mother’s initials to showcase the stories and love in different languages that have been passed down for generations.”

In an interview with NBC News, Yu elaborated: “I’m very proud of my last name and wanted to represent my mom and how proud she was of where she came from, and how our stories are still intertwined. I couldn’t have got to where I am without all the sacrifices she made.”

The GoFundMe page also explained why she chose to open a bookstore; to “showcase the stories and love in different languages that have been passed down for generations.”

As a chemical engineer and self-proclaimed bibliophile, Yu told NBC News that she reads more than 100 books a year and spends time perusing shops for works from writers of color. This often leads to disappointment due to the lack of bookstores that highlight immigrant or POC stories.

“A lot of bookstores tout bestsellers,” she said, “while Asian, Black, and Latinx voices aren’t amplified in the way they deserve to be.”

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She added that she carefully curated her bookstore to create a catalog of real representation. At this time, the store has about 1,600 works.

“I want to showcase an inventory of all those voices at a time when it feels like our lives are in danger,” she said. “I dreamed of a place where people who look like me can walk into and think, ‘I see myself on the shelves, I feel seen here.’”

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Yu plans to host author signings and events with groups like Asian American Writers Workshops. She is confident that the shop will be an inclusive safe space, not to mention that it also has a bar and a cafe that serves beloved Asian snacks, such as red bean buns, sesame balls, and sweet butter loaves.

“Having a little bit of space where you can sit down and chat, where you can have authors come here and read,” she said, “is a really good facilitator of conversation.”

Since the opening of Yu & Me Books, Yu has received an overwhelming amount of support, which highlights the need and excitement the community had for this space.

If you want to support Yu & Me Books, but aren’t near NYC, be sure to check out their website and Bookshop landing page that is filled with more curated lists.





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