LOVE: Must Read Books by Asian Authors: Fiction Edition

must read books by asian authors fiction juicygreenmom

I’ve been trying to read more diverse authors and finding so many amazing gems! I’ll be sharing some of my must read books in different summary posts – this one is specifically for fiction by Asian authors! Spoiler alert: I’ll very likely keep adding more to this list as time goes on!

(Note: For readers in the U.S., I’ve included links for because they are a climate neutral certified company, Certified B corp, and they infuse funding into independently owned bookstores!)

Mika in Real Life

by Emiko Jean

This is an adult fiction book about a woman struggling with her lot in life. She is found by the teenage girl she gave up for adoption 16 years ago and changes her life to try to impress the daughter she wished she hadn’t given up. It’s a book that will make you laugh at the absurd situations Mika gets into, and cry for the heartbreaking realizations she makes about who she is, and the trauma of her youth that continue to shape her as an adult. It deals with heavy topics of adoption, racial identity, mother-daughter relationships, and sexual abuse in a heartfelt and relatable way that don’t make you feel bogged down or depressed. 

In the Dark We Forget

by Sandra SG Wong

I listened to the audiobook of this book while I was waiting for my hard copy and I couldn’t stop listening! It was riveting and I HAD to know what was next.
Apart from the suspense, I was also really impressed with the diverse representation in this book. I felt that Sandra Wong did an amazing job of addressing issues of race, gender, and sexuality but in a way that wasn’t preachy or beating you over the head with it.
You know I’m always looking for the social justice angles on things so I’m always impressed by authors who manage to embed it in their writing so beautifully.
Also – Sandra Wong is a #yegauthor – cool, right??

It’s definitely a page turner and will keep you wanting more!


by R.F. Kuang

Wow!!! Yellowface is a hella good read and I don’t just mean for Asians. It is a fascinating thrilling story, and explores race representation in such an incredible way. It sheds light on issues of cultural appropriation and shows us that there are no defined rights and wrongs. It really asks probing questions that made me re-examine my own values. It is incredibly well-written and takes you on such a journey. R.F. Kuang had a lot of buzz around the release of this book and it was certainly warranted! Really excellent book for anyone who likes reading!

Miracle Creek

by Angie Kim

This is a fascinating read! Murder mystery and courtroom drama, with explorations of complex parent-child relationships, this book was incredibly fascinating and fast-paced. I listened to the audiobook and just could not press pause! (The audiobook also has an interview with the author at the end, which was really cool!) How amazing that Angie Kim weaved together this story of complex characters facing so many different issues with the “Miracle Submarine” (hyperbaric oxygen treatment chamber) bringing them all together. It explores things like parenting autistic and disabled children, interracial relationships, immigrant experiences and racism, family ties and sacrifice, and all the little events that can lead to a tragic and traumatic event. Such a riveting story told by multiple points of view – it is a must read!

Happiness Falls

by Angie Kim

Wow. Just wow! This book is truly incredible. It explores so many issues on an intersectional level, in an authentic and beautiful way. Non-speaking Autism and Angelman Syndrome, biracial identity, family trauma and identity, racism, ableism, sexism, the innate human desire to communicate, the difficulties of learning a language, fluency with language, and our society’s equation of fluent speech with intelligence, encounters with police and what happens when professionals are not trained to be neurodiversity-affirming and trauma-informed – all of this was explored in a profound way while being wrapped up in a thrilling mystery/investigation. Every human should read this book. It is powerful and engaging and such a brilliant read.

Searching for Sylvie Lee

by Jean Kwok

Such a suspenseful and emotional thriller, and utterly unputdownable. I HAD to keep reading to find out what happened to Sylvie. The complexity and layers of family secrets, lost language and culture, filial piety, it was so much in one book! The experiences of a Chinese immigrant family and second generation immigrant were so real and profoundly written. A truly incredible book.

Mambo in Chinatown

by Jean Kwok

After reading Searching for Sylvie Lee, I knew I wanted to read more of Jean Kwok’s books, and this one was so wonderful. I loved the exploration of how cultural expectations like filial piety and communal survival impact a young person’s ability to develop their own identity. It provides such an authentic look at what it’s like to be an American Born Chinese person navigating both cultures. It is emotional and heartbreaking but has a feel-good ending, which really made my heart happy.

The Conjoined

by Jen Sookfong Lee

Murder mystery, mother and daughter relationships, breaking away from prescriptive female roles, coping with trauma, immigrant experiences – this book covers so much ground, and explores the female characters so fully and richly! It jumps around in time to provide backstory for the characters, but it’s never confusing, only enlightening. It is both tragic and hopeful, and the character arcs are just beautifully depicted. A truly masterfully written book.

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

I watched the Netflix show based on this book because I’m a huge fan of Kerry Washington, and it totally hooked me (did you know Celeste Ng appears on the show?). I read the book afterwards and was pleasantly surprised at the differences from the show – it still had the same essence, but explored things in a different way. It was definitely a page turner and there was fantastic character development for so many different points of view. Such an excellent read!

Sunshine Nails

by Mai Nguyen

This Vietnamese immigrant family story has so much heart. It feels like a lighthearted read but is simultaneously tackling issues like gentrification, anti-Asian racism, the meritocracy myth, the model minority myth, and filial piety. There are unexpected turns and revelations, and ultimately you just want the Trans to get a small piece of the immigrant dream they always wanted. It’s so wonderful to see this representation!

What Asian authors would you add to this list?

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