2023 CALA Best Book Award Recipients

2023 最佳图书奖的获奖者名单

2023 Call for Nominations

The CALA Best Book Award subcommittee is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2023 CALA Best Book Awards. The annual CALA Best Book Award recognizes outstanding books, published in English or Chinese, and exhibit excellence in addressing China, Chinese, people of Chinese origin or Chinese cultural heritage and written by Chinese authors or authors of Chinese descent. The Award is to raise awareness of these topics and authors in North America.


The following are the awardees of the Best Book Awards. We congratulate the authors for their outstanding works representing the diversity of the Chinese experience:


Children's Fiction 儿童读物—小说类

Maizy Chen's Last Chance by Lisa Yee

Twelve-year-old Maizy Chen visits Last Chance, Minnesota with her mother, with the intention of helping the family as her grandfather recovers from an illness. As Maizy spends more time with her grandfather, she begins to learn of the history of her family and the racism they endured. When a family heirloom from the family restaurant, Golden Palace, is stolen, Maizy becomes a detective to find the heirloom and stumbles upon more family history than she was expecting. Historical and contemporary fiction suitable for middle graders representative of Chinese Americans, then and now.

ISBN-13: 9781984830258

Publisher: Random House, New York Publication date: 2022 Pages: 276

Children's Non-fiction 儿童读物—非小说类

She Persisted: Maya Lin by Grace Lin

Maya Lin, a 21-year-old college student is pushed into the National spotlight, as she is announced the winner of a competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Lin faces discrimination and open criticism as people react to her race, age and gender. Lin’s design is challenged by those who don’t want it built and she shows persistence building her original vision for the monument. Grace Lin tells the tale of architect and designer Maya Lin in this biographical chapter book with black and white illustrations.

ISBN-13: 9780593403006

Publisher: Philomel, New York Publication date: 2022 Pages: 59

Young Adult Fiction 青少年读物—小说类

This Place is Still Beautiful by XiXi Tian

Annalie and Margaret are sisters who couldn’t be any different. Annalie is in high school and happy with small town life, living with their mother. Margaret is ambitious and left their hometown for college in New York. Both react differently as a racially charged message is spray painted on their home. The sisters clash with different responses to the hate crime and the community’s ongoing prejudice. A contemporary look at two sisters coming together as a family and refusing to be defined by acts of racism.


Publisher: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York Publication date: 2022

Pages: 360

Young Adult Non-fiction 青少年读物—非小说类

Messy Roots: A graphic memoir of a Wuhanese American by Laura Gao

Laura Gao documents her upbringing in Wuhan, China by her grandparents and the drastic change when joining her parents, at 4 years of age, in Texas. Gao documents her childhood as a student in predominantly white schools and finding belonging and acceptance as a young adult in Asian and queer communities. A nuanced graphic memoir of Gao coming to terms with her multifaceted identities with bright and bold artwork.


Publisher: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York Publication date: 2022

Pages: 269

Adult Fiction 成人读物—小说类

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Bird, at age 12, has lost his mother due to a government policy called PACT, Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act. Policies of child separation and censorship are a racist response to unchecked fear and scapegoating of Asian Americans, fueled by an economic crisis. Bird is being raised by his grieving father and is learning not to stand out, even if his Asian heritage makes him suspicious in the eyes of society. Bird’s longing for his mother leads him on a journey to find her and he stumbles onto a network of separated families searching for their children. A timely and riveting dystopian novel which mirrors past and present societal attitudes.

ISBN-13: 9780593492543

Publisher: Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, New York Publication date: 2022

Pages: 335

Adult Non-fiction 成人读物—非小说类

Stay True: A memoir by Hua Hsu

First generation Taiwanese American college student Hua Hsu is friends with Ken, a Japanese American college student, even if Hua disapproves of Ken's assimilated and mainstream ways. They are best friends who realize that the greater American culture doesn't have a place for them. Bonding over the day-to-day aspects of college life, Hua is jolted by the sudden death of Ken in a violent carjacking. Hsu writes this memoir to remember their coming-of-age together and Hsu's ongoing search for belonging.

ISBN-13: 9780385547772

Publisher: Doubleday, New York Publication date: 2022

Pages: 196

CALA Best Book subcommittee members chose Honor Books that are highly recommended for their literary contribution: CALA最佳图书奖评审小组同时评选出了2023年度CALA荣誉图书以表彰作者们对文学界的贡献:

Children's Fiction 儿童读物—小说类

Key Player by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang, is caught up in the excitement of Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, playing near her home in Southern California. The final match is between China and the U.S. and Mia is proud and excited for both teams. While excited about the soccer tournament, she is less excited about P.E. class. Mia needs a good grade in P.E. and her teacher assigns a next-to-impossible extra credit assignment: Interviewing both soccer teams. Can Mia complete the assignment and achieve her goal?

Fourth in the series of Yang’s Front Desk series, Key Player is contemporary fiction for middle graders addressing social inequities, racism and community in the context of immigrant families.

ISBN-13: 9781338776256

Publisher: Scholastic Press, New York Publication date: 2022 Pages: 274

Children's Non-fiction 儿童读物—非小说类

The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan by Kristen Mai Giang

Although he may be the most well-known contemporary martial artist, stuntperson and actor, Jackie Chan faced many trials and tribulations on his way to international stardom. A biographical picture book, including action-packed illustrations, with the message that persistence, adaptability and overcoming mistakes & challenges will result in success.

ISBN-13: 9780593121924

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, Publication date: 2022 Pages: 34

Young Adult Fiction 青少年读物—小说类

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang

Alice Sun attends a private international boarding school in Beijing, as the only student with a scholarship among her rich classmates. Feeling overlooked and invisible, she soon discovers that she has the power to become invisible to the eye. With the help of Henry Li, her academic rival, Alice decides to use this to her advantage to pay for school fees. Monetizing her power of invisibility, she anonymously sells her spying services for a fee to her classmates and is surprised to find out how many students are willing to pay for her services. How far is Alice willing to go to afford to be a student at Arlington International Boarding School? An entertaining and humorous view of social status, power and ethics in this contemporary, fantasy and romance novel.

ISBN-13: 9781335915849

Publisher: Inkyard Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Publication date: 2022 Pages: 341

Young Adult Non-fiction 青少年读物—非小说类

No Honor Book chosen 未评选出荣誉图书

Adult Fiction 成人读物—小说类

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Ingrid Yang, a Taiwanese American PhD student, desperately wants to finish her dissertation on canonical Chinese poet and former professor, Xiao-Wen Chou, to escape the doldrums of academia and its politics. Ingird’s PhD research leads her down a rabbit hole of intrigue as she begins to question the subject of her dissertation, the perceived safety of academia, her own identity and the life she leads. A satirical and humorous novel about finding your own voice and writing your own narrative.

ISBN-13: 9780593298350

Publisher: Penguin Press, New York Publication date: 2022 Pages: 403

Adult Non-fiction 成人读物—非小说类

Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern by Jing Tsu

As the rest of the world was gaining traction and power with the modern age of technology, China was quickly becoming obsolete. It took China a colorful cast of characters to join the modernization movement. The nation began evolving when addressing the problem inherent in its foundation: The characters that comprised the Chinese languages were complex and not easily accessible to laypeople and marginalized groups. This history of China during the twentieth century details events and people that influenced the language which, in turn, influenced the nation.

ISBN-13: 9780735214729

Publisher: Riverhead Books, New York Publication date: 2022 Pages: 314

Thank you to the CALA community, affiliates and supporters for nominating an array of books representing the Chinese diaspora.



The 2022-2023 CALA Best Book Award subcommittee

Jen Woo, Chair

Sai Deng, Member

Wei Zhang, Member






Special thanks to Ray Pun for encouraging partnership with School Library Journal to co-announce the 2023 CALA Best Book Awards on School Library Journal's website.

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