In light of the recent hate crime that took place in Atlanta last week, I wanted to compile a list of books written by Asian and Asian American authors for anyone to read. I happened the be reading How Much of These Hills is Gold last week, and it inspired me to create this list. There are so many amazing, inspirational stories out there. I want to keep diversifying my reading and learning about other people’s stories, and I hope I can help you do the same. Let’s get started!
one | How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
Lucy and Sam only have each other now. After their father, Ba, passes away, they have must trek across the western dessert that promised gold to bury him. Told across three timelines, “How Much of These Hills is Gold” is a gripping story about Asian America immigrants during the gold rush, family, and adventure. Sure to break your heart in unexpected ways, this book is one of a kind.
two | Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Sunja, the daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls in love with a rich man she’s never seen before in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she finds out she’s pregnant, everything changes. Her night in shining armor is married, and she has to accept a marriage offer from a sickly minister passing through town. By marrying the minister, Sunja sets off a domino effect that will ripple down through generations. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book.
three | Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere starts off with where the story actually ends and then goes back to fill in all the missing pieces. Single-mother Mia and her daughter Pearl, the Richardson family (whom Pearl befriends), and the McCullough’s, who are hoping to adopt a baby. These three families’ lives intertwine in unexpected ways and the true mystery of the story — how Pearl and Mia became such a dynamic duo — is revealed. This book traps reader’s from the very first page.
four | Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
This selection of short stories tells the history of Indian culture from the perspective of outsiders. Whether the characters are immigrants in a new land or interacting with travelers to their home, each story shares an interesting point-of-view that turns readers on their heads. Told with love, compassion, and understanding, Interpreter of Maladies is a heartwarming collection.
five | To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
Lara Jean is in love, but no one has to know right? She’ll write a love letter, seal it away in a hat box, and no one will be the wiser. It’s a perfect plan until Lara Jean’s younger sister, Kitty, decides to mail the letters she’s compiled over the years. Each boy she’s ever been in love with has received one of these letters, and now Lara Jean has to enter into a fake relationship to save herself from her true love finding out about her feelings. This is a beautiful tale about coming-of-age and falling in love.
six | If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
If I Had Your Face follows four women that seem to have nothing in common on the surface, but are ultimately connected through a greater need for friendship and love. Kyuri is a traditionally beautiful woman working at an upscale bar entertaining businessmen. She makes an impulsive mistake with a client one day, and everything may change. Miho, Kyuri’s roommate, is an artist in a unhealthy relationship with a wealthy heir to one of Korea’s biggest companies. Ara lives down the hall from Miho and Kyuri. She’s a hair stylist completely preoccupied by a boy-band pop star and her best friend’s impending plastic surgery. And then there’s Wonna, a newlywed who lives one floor down trying to get pregnant with no idea how to raise or educate the soon-to-be-child in a cutthroat economy.
seven | The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
It’s 1949, and it’s time for mahjong. Every week, four Chinese women in San Francisco meet to tell the stories about what they are missing in China. They call themselves the Joy Luck Club, and they hold out hope for their daughters’ futures. Their daughter’s believe their advice to be out-dated, until they find themselves coincidentally living in their mothers’ pasts. A tale about the bond between a mother and daughter and the power in secrets, The Joy Luck Club is a classic story one must read.
eight | Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians is about a Singaporean family that is, well, rich. Some of the members are snotty brats, but some are just like normal people. The book follows a handful of characters, but the main story is about Rachel and Nick. They are attending Nick’s best friend’s wedding, and Rachel has no idea what she is about to step into. Nick, who works as a professor in the state’s, and he hasn’t told her anything about his rich family. Rachel is in for quite the treat. From catty bridesmaids to an evil mother-in-law, Kwan’s story has it all, including gorgeous descriptions of Asia for any wanderlust heart.
nine | Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Trick Mirror is a collection of essays telling the story of Jia’s experience with culture, self-worth, and self-delusion. It is said to be an enlightening and unforgettable trip through a discovery of a self in a culture so different from her own.
ten | The Silence of Bones by June Hur
Seol is an indentured servant to the police. Because men are not allowed to touch the women they are not married to, Seol must do that job for them if they find a body at a crime scene. Seol works with a young inspector that she comes to form an unlikely friendship with through the treacherous job. But when the inspector becomes the prime suspect in the crime, Seol must decide if its worth finding out what really happened that night if it means losing her one true friendship.
W hen I was growing up in the ’, the only Asian-American writer I knew was Amy Tan. Her thick paperbacks, “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” were on everyone’s bookshelves. I, of course, hated Amy Tan because I considered myself a hard-edged thinker. Her books, which were mostly about industrious, dignified immigrants, embodied a type of minstrelsy in which the Asian-American writer gives the white audience bits of tossed-off Oriental wisdom — “Isn’t hate merely the result of wounded love?” — or a few parables about gold and black tigers or what have you. If I had been asked back then what I planned to write about, I might have gestured toward the Beatniks or cutting down trees in the woods or heroin or jazz, but the only concrete pledge I could have given you was, “I will not write ‘The Joy Luck Club.’”