Fiction, the final stop in my recommendations for books written by AAPI authors. I initially started this series to commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S. and Asian Heritage Month in Canada. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to writing all the posts that I had planned in time, which is why I’m still posting in June. (Sorry about that.) But here we are, the last post that I had planned for recommendations for books written by AAPI authors. I hope it’ll help you when you’re selecting your next book to read.
Again, I want to state that these are my personal recommendations for books that I’ve read and loved or books that are currently on my TBR list. This is in no way a comprehensive and exhaustive list of the number of English-language fiction novels written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry. This list is literally a tiny window into the brilliant and wonderful world of fiction novels written by AAPI authors.
Some sites that I recommend checking out if you’re looking for more books written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and/or prominently feature characters of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are:
- Lit CelebrAsian
- Our Stories (Pacific Islander specific recs)
- Anjulie Te Pohe resource list(Pacific Islander specific recs)
So let’s get to the recommendations.
Ru by Kim Thuy. Penned by Vietnamese Canadian writer Kim Thuy, Ru is the lyrical biographical tale of Thuy’s journey from her home country of Vietnam to her adopted country of Canada. Originally written in French and translated to English and over dozen other languages, the word ‘ru’ can be translated into French and Vietnamese and mean a small stream and lullaby, respectively. Ru is a multi-award winning novel, one that opens the door to a journey that thousands of Vietnamese Canadians have travelled.
Girls Burn Brighter Shobha Rao. This debut novel from writer Shobha Rao, tells the story of two young women and their friendship that transcends unrelenting hardships, time, and an ocean, and what it means to never let the fire burn that burns within go out. This novel is not an easy read (see multiple trigger warnings for domestic violence and sexual assault), but it is an important one that looks at what it is like to be a woman living in poverty in India and the near-insurmountable difficulties that one faces in such situations. It’s an astounding and incredibly well-written debut novel.
Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chen. Lana Lee never expected to return home to Cleveland, but after a horrendous break-up and dramatic exit from her job coming home and figuring out what to do next doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Even if it means having to deal with her mother’s exhaustive plans to find her a husband. When her family’s restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, dies from an allergic reaction to shrimp dumplings from her family’s restaurant, it’s up to Lana to discover who the real culprit is, all the while dodging the media, a gorgeous detective, and not falling victim to the murderer herself. This is a cozy mystery read that will sure to entertain you.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. A Place for Us is a story about an Indian-American Muslim family that spans decades, charting crucial moments in the family’s past, their search for their individual identities, and the bonds and love that ties them together and broke them apart. On the eve of the eldest daughter’s, Hadia’s, wedding, the family is reunited after years of estrangement. This is Mirza’s debut novel and one of the newest novels on this list, it’s one about love, identity, and belonging, a story that many of us understand.
Other books to check out:
- Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
- The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam
- Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Leavers by Lisa Ko
- Chemistry by Weike Wang
- Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
- The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
- The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang
- Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
- Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel
- Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
- Salt House by Hala Alyan
- Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
- The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Those are my recommendations for fiction novels written by AAPI authors. Feel free to leave your own recommendations below in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram. This is the last post in my series of recommendations for books written by AAPI authors. If you’ve been reading along, thank you, and I hope it helped you discover new books and authors in your reading life.
Thanks for reading!