20 Books by Asian American Authors You Should Read
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Here at The Everygirl, reading is one of our favorite relaxing hobbies to do at home (or really anywhere). It’s the perfect way to wind down after a long workday or spend a lazy weekend morning. When it comes to what we read, we’re always looking to diversify our options and support new voices, so we’re turning to Asian American authors for our next favorite book. Whether you’re looking for an easy read that satisfies your feelings of wanderlust, heartfelt memoirs that shed light on experiences different from your own, on-the-nose science fiction, or anything in between, these books by Asian American authors should be at the top of your list.
Each of these titles comes highly recommended from Goodreads, a site where millions of readers rate and review books they’ve read. You can even create handy lists to share your recommendations with friends. It’s a favorite resource for book lovers, especially when you need the answer to the age-old question: what should I read next? Read on for 20 of the most popular books by Asian American authors.
Described as “profoundly intelligent” and “bitingly funny,” Gold Diggers is a coming-of-age story about a second generation Indian-American teenager who gets caught up in a plot with his neighbor.
While brewing an alchemical potion said to harness ambition, something happens that destroys their community. Years later, the two reconnect and are thrown into one last heist.
The year is 2095 and humanity is completely reliant on pills that keep them healthy and allow them to compete with artificial intelligence. When an organization of part machine, part human entities threatens a complete AI takeover, global panic ensues.
Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is somehow specially qualified to take them down.
Mary H. K. Choi
In Yolk, estranged sisters Jayne and June Baek could not be any more different. While Jayne is barely getting by in New York City, June is living it up in a fancy apartment with a big finance job. But when June is diagnosed with uterine cancer, the two sisters are brought back together and will stop at nothing (including insurance fraud) to save June’s life.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club
When Lily meets Kath at a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club, everything seemingly falls into place.
But it’s 1954—the height of Red Scare paranoia—and Lily is a Chinese-American girl whose father is facing the threat of deportation despite being a U.S. citizen. Lily and Kath will have to risk everything just to be in love.
Elizabeth Miki Brina
Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir
Elizabeth’s mother is an Okinawan war bride and her father is a Vietnam veteran. In Speak, Okinawa she attempts to come to terms with her parents’ complicated relationship, which is marked by a language barrier and power imbalance, her own identity, and the injustices the Okinawan people suffered throughout their history.
Speak, Okinawa is described as “a heartfelt exploration of identity, inheritance, forgiveness, and what it means to be an American.”
Land of Big Numbers
According to the publisher, the stories within Te-Ping Chen’s debut collection “vividly gives voice to the men and women of modern China and its diaspora.”
In this collection, readers will find stories grounded in reality and ones that delve into magical-realism. Each story is laced with social insight and cultural criticism from an author who spent years reporting on the ground in China.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
In 2016, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Since then, readers have been waiting for Nguyen’s follow-up and it’s finally here.
The Committed (which is described as both highly suspenseful and also existential) follows the Sympathizer as he settles into life as a refugee in Paris. In order to secure his future, the Sympathizer takes up drug-dealing, but soon finds his new life more complicated than he expected.
The 2020 National Book Award Winner is described as “moving, daring, and masterful.” This Hollywood satire follows Willis Wu, who doesn’t consider himself the main character of his own life. He is merely Generic Asian Man. However, he harbors dreams of attaining a different (and highly coveted) Hollywood stereotype: Kung Fu Guy.
But then Willis is suddenly thrust into the spotlight. While navigating this new world, he discovers the secrets of both Chinatown and his own family.
C Pam Zhang
How Much of These Hills Is Gold
Described as both “epic and intimate,” How Much of These Hills Is Gold tells the story of two siblings who must navigate the unforgiving landscape of America during the Gold Rush. After Lucy and Sam’s father dies, leaving them orphans, they flee their unwelcoming town and set out on an adventure through a hostile land.
If I Had Your Face
If I Had Your Face tells the story of four women living in a world of unattainable beauty standards and strict social hierarchies. Though each woman has her own unique experiences, their friendship binds them together and might just be their greatest blessing.
The Henna Artist
Lakshmi lives in a world that’s in the gray area between traditional and modern. After fleeing an abusive marriage, she makes a name for herself, becoming one of the most sought after henna artists in Jaipur.
Years later, Lakshmi’s husband tracks her down, and brings along a sister she never even knew she had.
We Ride Upon Sticks
We Ride Upon Sticks tells the story of the Danvers High field hockey team as they experience an almost magical winning streak.
Centuries ago, the town of Danvers, Massachusetts was Salem Village, the site of the infamous 17th century witch trials. Could the team’s connection to the past have anything to do with their present success?
Days of Distraction
Days of Distraction follows a 24-year-old woman as she settles into adulthood.
Feeling dissatisfied with her work, the narrator uses an opportunity to move across the country with her boyfriend as the break she’s been needing. But along the way, she begins to question her role in an interracial relationship and society at large.
The Bone Shard Daughter
Lin’s father refuses to recognize her as the heir to his vast empire, but his hold on the throne is tenuous at best.
In The Bone Shard Daughter, Lin works to master a forbidden magic that will prove her worth and allow her to fight for her birthright.
Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
For fans of Fresh of the Boat and Running With Scissors; Sigh, Gone is a coming-of-age memoir detailing one man’s experiences as a teenage immigrant in the 1980s.
While navigating the challenges of growing up in a new country and balancing his parents’ expectations, Tran finds solace in classic literature and punk rock.
Cathy Park Hong
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
Minor Feelings blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to shed light on racism in America. Author Cathy Park Hong uses her experience as the daughter of Korean Americans to explore questions surrounding family, friendships, identity, politics, and more.
Things We Lost to the Water
Things We Lost to the Water follows a family as they struggle to find their way in New Orleans after emigrating from Vietnam.
Huong and her two sons, Tuan and Binh, drift apart as they settle into their new lives. But when disaster strikes their new home, they’re brought back together again.
Mia P. Manansala
Arsenic and Adobo
Lila Macapagal’s life sounds like something straight out of a rom-com. She’s living at home following a bad break-up, is tasked with saving her family’s ailing business, and is dealing with eager aunts trying to serve as her matchmakers.
But when her ex drops dead, Lila is suddenly the one and only suspect, and her rom-com life swiftly turns into an old-fashioned whodunnit.