Collage of covers of books by Asian American women writers

10 Books We Love by Asian American Women

All month we’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month with inspiring quotes from pioneering Asian American women. Today we look at 10 books we love by Asian American women authors, from groundbreaking modern classics to literary heavy-hitters to comic romps.

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, by Maxine Hong Kingston

Bow down to Queen Kingston. This blend of memoir and myth is a definitive piece of Asian American literature. It explores Kingston’s childhood, her relationship with her mother, and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy. A must-read.

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

No matter how many times we see it, the movie makes us cry. Especially the last scene ("Mei mei!"). The novel is even better, complete with tempestuous mother-daughter relationships, tales of life in China, and the titular mah-jongg club. Get the tissues ready as you dive into an interconnected set of stories told from the points of view of four Chinese women and each of their American-born daughters. 

Jasmine, by Bharti Mukherjee

We read this page-turner in one binge-y day. It chronicles the journey and metamorphosis of a young woman from rural India to rural America by way of Florida and New York City. Born Jyoti but dubbed Jasmine, Jazzy, and Jane, she seeks to change her destiny and pave her own path in life.

Dogeaters, by Jessica Hagedorn

We love Hagedorn's colorful, tough-talking novel about life in 1950s Manila. Dogeaters follows the stories of several characters, from beauty queens, to gay prostitutes, to womanizing “self-made” men, all against a backdrop of the country's turmoil and violence.

The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

While Lahiri’s short story collection, Interpreter of the Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize, we actually prefer her debut novel about Bengali couple Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, and their son Gogol. At work here are issues of identity, the tension between immigrant parents and their American-born children, and the search for a place to call home.

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

We couldn't stop thinking about this book for months. If you liked Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, you’ll love Hawaiian native Yanagihara’s A Little Life, which chronicles the lives of four men and tells a “traumatic tale of male friendship.” Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and a finalist in the National Book Awards.

Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite, by Suki Kim

A fascinating account of Kim’s time in North Korea teaching English to the sons of high-level officials. Undercover at an evangelical university in Pyongyang, the journalist was constantly under surveillance as she documented a world where CDs and books are feared, jeans are forbidden, and you can never even hint that something’s wrong with the country.

Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit, by Jessica Tom

This debut novel from food blogger Tom is a kind of Devil Wears Prada for foodies. After a failed internship, protagonist Tia Monroe ends up ghostwriting restaurant reviews for a legendary New York Times critic who, unbeknownst to anyone, has lost his sense of taste. While she enjoys the glamorous life, having someone else take credit for her work starts to take its toll.

The Wangs vs. the World, by Jade Chang

Road trip! When self-made millionaire Charles Wang goes bankrupt, he packs up his belongings, (second) wife, and two kids to drive cross-country from Bel Air to upstate New York and his eldest daughter. This fast, funny read from debut novelist Chang tells the classic immigrant story in a new way and skewers model minority myth stereotypes.

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

This thriller of a first novel from Ng centers on the drowning death of Lydia Lee, the seemingly perfect daughter of a mixed-race Chinese American family in 1970s Ohio. As police investigate her death, Lydia’s parents discover their daughter wasn’t the popular, well-adjusted girl she pretended to be.

What are some of your favorite books by Asian American women? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter, or snap a pic and tag us on Instagram. Happy reading!
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