LOVE: Must Read Books by Asian Authors: Literary Fiction Edition

must read books by asian authors literary fiction juicygreenmom

Looking to diversify your reading list? Wanting Asian author book recommendations for Asian Heritage Month? These literary fiction books by Asian authors are absolutely transcendent must reads!

(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!)

The Night Tiger

by Yangsze Choo

I listened to the audiobook of The Night Tiger and it was such a unique and incredible story. Set in 1930s colonial Malaysia, it is magical and unexpected. It brings together characters you wouldn’t think should ever cross paths. It highlights the struggles of trying to live outside the roles society forces people into. Superstition, myths, and dreams are tempered with the very real and raw experiences of poor, young and insignificant kids trying to make their way in life. It is so beautifully written with incredible imagery and fascinating twists and turns. Such a wonderful read!

We Two Alone

by Jack Wang

I don’t often read short story collections but heard amazing things about this one. It lived up to the hype! We Two Alone by @jackwangauthor tells stories of Chinese immigrants across the world, and across time. Settings range from Canada, Shanghai, Vienna, South Africa, and New York. Characters range from young to old, and each story is deeply heart-wrenching and intimate. It is incredible how the author portrays the diversity of the Chinese diaspora across time and space, but also unites them in their common heritage, their common experience as immigrants. Truly beautifully written.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

by Madeleine Thien

This is such an epic novel. It covers two generations of Chinese families in China and in Canada, living through the historical events of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Tienanmen Square protest to present day. It has a dreamy, ethereal quality, and the weaving back and forth through time is masterfully done. As a Chinese Canadian who never learned much about Chinese history, it was such a fascinating and informative read, as well as being a beautifully layered and nuanced story. Well-deserving of the many awards it has received, it is truly an incredible piece of work.

The Jade Peony

by Wayson Choy

This is a book that I didn’t read when it came out because I was unaware that Chinese Canadian authors existed. It is truly an essential Chinese Canadian novel and I feel as though I should have studied it in high school or undergraduate English courses. The story of one Chinese immigrant family in the 1930s and their experiences living in Vancouver is truly poignant and beautifully told.

The Jade Peony from

The Story of Us

by Catherine Hernandez

This literary fiction novel is incredibly unique, told from the perspective of an unborn baby. The main characters are a Filipina care worker and an elderly transgender woman, who you’d never think would be in a book together. It explores the plight of so many Filipina women who are forced to leave their families to work elsewhere in order to send money home, the journey of someone who at first does not understand gender identity and ends up embracing it, the reality of elder abuse with aging parents, and the legacy of a trailblazer for trans rights. Incredible writing of an incredible story – this is a must read!

The Story of Us from

Denison Avenue

by Christina Wong & Daniel Innes

I have been mulling over and processing this book for weeks after finishing it because it changed something in me. I can’t fully put into words how profoundly it impacted me. It is such a unique piece of art – not your traditional book – and the format truly elevates its impact.

The fact that this book was a Canada Reads pick speaks to how amazing it is. It made me feel so much more connected to the Chinese diaspora even though I didn’t grow up in Toronto and my mother tongue was Mandarin, not Toisan. The story and the images transcend space and time – I saw so much of my own city’s Chinatown in those pages, and I saw my grandmother and my aging parents in the people. I was on the verge of tears for the entirety of the book. This is truly a unique work of art that honours our ancestors and what they endured to make a life in Canada. 

What other recommendations do you have for literary fiction books by Asian authors?

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