Books to Read by Asian and Pacific Islander Authors
Reading books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors should be something we strive to do all year long. May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and it is a great time to add some titles to your bookshelves.
This list is only a jumping-off point to help broaden your perspective, as well as your reading list. There is a lot of variety here, and I hope you will find and enjoy a new book!
If you’re interested in taking direct action to support Asian and Pacific Islanders’ rights and culture, we recommend checking out this list on Global Citizen of 9 Groups Fighting for Asian Americans That You Can Support Right Now. Don’t forget to do your diligence and support groups that are local to you if possible.
Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho
Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in this funny and irresistible debut novel about the pursuit of happiness, surviving one’s thirties intact, and opening oneself up to love.
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
In the tradition of audacious and wryly funny novels like The Idiot and Convenience Store Woman comes the wildly original coming-of-age story of a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.
White Ivy by Susie Yang
A young woman’s crush on a privileged former classmate becomes a story of love, lies, and dark obsession, offering stark insights into the immigrant experience, as it hurtles to its electrifying ending.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
The English-language debut of an exciting young voice in international fiction, selling 660,000 copies in Japan alone, Convenience Store Woman is a bewitching portrayal of contemporary Japan through the eyes of a single woman who fits into the rigidity of its work culture only too well.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
Bangkok Wakes To Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-World War II society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary fate. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the house’s resident spirits. In the present, a young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in a New Krungthep yet to come, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember.
Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility–but also danger.
The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Riveting and unconventional, The Last Story of Mina Lee traces the far-reaching consequences of secrets in the lives of a Korean immigrant mother and her daughter.
Little Gods by Meng Jin
Combining the emotional resonance of Home Fire with the ambition and innovation of Asymmetry, a lyrical and thought-provoking debut novel that explores the complex web of grief, memory, time, physics, history, and selfhood in the immigrant experience, and the complicated bond between daughters and mothers.
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women–two sisters and their mother–in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation.
Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi
From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives–even if it means swapping identities.
Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park
In a debut perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne, a junior video game producer finds herself getting closer and closer to the one person she hates most after a mass troll attack online almost ruins her life.
Severance by Ling Ma
Maybe it’s the end of the world, but not for Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood in Ling Ma’s offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire, Severance.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania.
Sigh Gone by Phuc Tran
For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape–trying not just to survive but to find a home.
Anna K by Jenny Lee
Anna K: A Love Story is a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina–but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.
New Waves by Kevin Nguyen
A wry and edgy debut novel that explores race and startup culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media, and friendship. New Waves asks: How well do we really know one another? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative–and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, translated by Jamie Chang
One of the most notable novels of the year, hailed by both critics and K-pop stars alike, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rampant misogyny.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root–that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body.
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.
Must I Go by Yiyun Li
Lilia Liska has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children, and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair.
Speak Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina
A searing, deeply candid memoir about a young woman’s journey to understanding her complicated parents–her mother an Okinawan war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran–and her own, fraught cultural heritage.
What do you think about the books on this list?
Have you read any books from this list? What are your favorite books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors? What books would you add to the list?