On Jan. 27, the one-year anniversary of the passing of Corky Lee and on the cusp of the Lunar New Year, Lee’s estate is proud to announce that it has entered into a contract with Penguin Random House to publish the first retrospective collection of photographs by the unofficial, undisputed photographer laureate of Asian American Pacific Islander communities across the U.S.

Corky Lee, self-portrait, c. 2000 (Courtesy of Estate of Corky Lee)

“It has always been the intent of the estate to fulfill Corky’s dream of publishing a book of his dynamic, iconic, insightful, and provocative photographs to share with the entire AAPI community and beyond,” the estate said in a statement. “Corky’s lifelong mission to chronicle the everyday life and important events of our communities throughout the United States over a 50-year span beginning in 1970 and through 2020 will inspire all who share his values of justice, equality and respect for all.

“Corky himself defined his life mission, to ‘change America one photograph at a time’; to correct historical inaccuracies, fight stereotypes and injustice, and celebrate the everyday struggles and accomplishments of the AAPI communities.

“The solo-authored book will include a curation of photographs taken by Corky over the course of his career including previously unpublished works, and will convey the depth of Corky’s vision of AAPI  life, achievements, and struggles. We hope you share the same love that the photographs portray in regard to the AAPI celebration of life and Corky’s passion to offer his vision with all of us.”

Tentatively titled “The Asian America of Corky Lee,” the book is edited by photographer/artist Chee Wang Ng, with an introduction by historian Mae Ngai. The publisher is Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, and the publication date is late fall 2023 or spring 2024.

The estate, whose administrator and executor is John J. Lee, continues to work closely with individuals and groups to share Lee’s work and passion to the greater public. In May 2022, his photographs will be on exhibit for Asian American Heritage Month at the Eastern District of New York Federal Court in Brooklyn; a short film about Lee by Curtis Chin and Kenneth Eng is forthcoming; and other exciting projects are in the works.

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