Enthralling Asian American Fiction

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Here are some of our staff's favorite fiction titles written by Asian American authors. These books will make you laugh, cry, and captivate you until the end.

  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold

    2020 by Zhang, C Pam

    Zhang's debut is a family story about a pair of orphan siblings that are left in the midst of the American gold rush. Kirkus states, "Zhang asks readers to acknowledge a legacy we have been taught to ignore by creating a new and spellbinding mythology of her own. Aesthetically arresting and a vital contribution to America's conversation about itself." Recommended by Becca.

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  • No One Can Pronounce My Name

    2017 by Satyal, Rakesh

    In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. The New York Times says, "This is a brave portrait that sheds light on the parts of Indian culture that are seldom seen by those outside it." Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World: A New Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction


    A second ground-breaking anthology of Asian American fiction features 42 selections from Jose Garcia Villa, Wakako Yamauchi, Akhil Sharma, Ruth Ozeki, Chang-Rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Monique Truong, and other new and established authors who represent the full spectrum of the Asian American experience. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Mona in the Promised Land

    1997 by Jen, Gish

    Unhappy with her own ethnic group, Mona Chang, a Chinese American, decides to become a Jew. After all, if one has to live as a minority, choose the best. A witty look at ethnicity, multiculturalism, and the melting pot. I remember loving the main character, Mona, when I read this book. She was very real and delightful. Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Interior Chinatown

    2020 by Yu, Charles

    One of the funniest, most creative, and deliciously clever books I read this year. Its own brand of metafiction (it’s written as a screenplay), a tightrope work of conceptualism that never falters. It’s also a trenchant exploration of what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be Asian American. One you want to share with others. Recommended by Chris and Lukie.

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  • Behind My Eyes

    2008 by Lee, Li-Young

    A collection of poems by one of the most beloved poets. "Lee’s lyrics have a tidal sweep as he moves between the universe within and the world without.” (Booklist) Recommended by Chris.

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  • My Year Abroad

    2021 by Lee, Chang-rae

    From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure—and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. “A manifesto to happiness—the one found when you stop running from who you are.” (New York Times) Recommended by Chris.

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  • Beasts of a Little Land

    2021 by Kim, Juhea

    For those who loved Pachinko, this expansive historical fiction follows a large cast of intertwining characters against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Korea, providing insight into Korean life in the early 20th century. Recommended by Leslie.

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  • The Wangs Vs. the World

    2016 by Chang, Jade

    Hilarious yet moving, this book imagines what a road trip could possibly look like for a Chinese American family. Beauty and humor are both present in this book, with family sitting at its center. Recommended by Paul.

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  • Fiona and Jane

    2021 by Ho, Jean Chen

    In linked short stories we follow best friends Fiona and Jane from childhood to adulthood as they stumble and try to find their place in the world. Ho expertly explores the complications and messiness of friendship, life, and love. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • The Color of Air

    2020 by Tsukiyama, Gail

    Set in Hawaii in the 1930s, this is a story of a community who comes together after the eruption of a nearby volcano. Per Kirkus, "The dialogue flows easily, and the landscape is rendered with such vibrance that the reader will become fully immersed in the sensory details. Well-paced and lush, this is a captivating historical novel that shows the power of love and human resilience." Recommended by Becca.

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  • Green Island

    2016 by Ryan, Shawna Yang

    An epic tale that covers five-and-a-half decades of Taiwanese history through the eyes of one family. Publishers Weekly calls it, "a significant work, full of carefully researched detail that results in a moving and indelible story." Recommended by Becca.

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  • Clark and Division

    2021 by Hirahara, Naomi

    Part mystery, part historical fiction, part coming-of-age story, this novel set in 1944 Chicago is first and foremost a depiction of ordinary Americans dealing with the fact that their country turned against them--and now expects them to rebuild their lives after "relocation" far from their West Coast homes. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • Joan Is Okay

    2022 by Wang, Weike

    A novel filled with satirical humor and moments of gentleness that strikes a balance between Joan's work saving lives and her internal turmoil and familial obligation. Just a note: this is a pandemic book set between September 2019 and March 2020--so if you aren’t ready to read about that yet, this is your heads up. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Afterparties: Stories

    2021 by So, Anthony

    Often when I read a collection of short stories, there are one or two standouts and a few that I like while the rest I don't connect with. That is not the case with Afterparties. Each is as good (if not better) than the one before. I can't find a better way to describe it than Entertainment Weekly, "Luminous . . . With profane wit and ruthless honesty, the book explores what it is to be young, brown, and queer in a world that so often prefers to see Asians as the model minority, or not at all." Recommended by Becca.

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