Check out these incredible reads.

By EW Staff
May 25, 2021 at 08:00 AM EDT
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If you're looking for a few great additions to your bookshelf, we've got you covered!

EW asked authors Aja Gabel, Simon Han, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, and C Pam Zhang to recommend books by other AAPI authors. Check out this collection of fantastic novels, memoirs, and story collections.

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Credit: Houghton Mifflin

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

"The thing about novels is that they can be terrible fun. This rich family dramedy is exactly the kind of novel I go to to remind myself to have fun with writing and with reading. The way Chang tackles the road trip form and packs it with multiple points of view, adventure, and secrets is enviable, but mostly it's enjoyable." — Aja Gabel

AAPI Books Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Credit: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

"Short stories got me through a year of dreary crisis, perhaps none so much as Bynum's. She works at the edge of the ordinary (suburbs, parenting, social media) where it meets the weird and magical. You'll be looking at your own life through slightly dazzled eyes." — C Pam Zhang

AAPI Books Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives
Credit: Amazon

Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives, edited by Irwin A. Tang

"The Asian Americans that I read about prior to Asian Texans all lived on the coasts. Even in my home state, in Texas History class, it seemed as though Asians had never been around. Reading Asian Texans was the first time I heard about a Filipino fisherman named Francisco Flores that the book calls the first Asian Texan, or early Mexican Chinese families in El Paso and Juárez and their connections to immigration exclusion laws, or the very different Asian communities that formed around Texas's military bases and later around tech hubs. It got me thinking about crucial intersections among AAPI, Texas, American, and global history." —Simon Han

Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Credit: Knopf

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

"When I think about precise writing, I think about science fiction writer Ted Chiang. He never uses more words than are necessary to make deeply complex ideas very real, and render portraits of characters in crisis. As I try to write about the way science can reveal ourselves to us, I keep returning to this story collection." —Aja Gabel

November Books

Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han

"When I was a young immigrant, I was captivated by the luxurious calm of American Suburbia at night, compared to my earlier life in hectic Bangkok. Han's novel, with a Chinese immigrant brother watchful of his sleepwalking sister, reminds me of that nighttime landscape's anxious quietude. Han builds on the underlying hidden unease of new American life to show how things can go wrong." — Pitchaya Sudbanthad

AAPI Books Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina
Credit: Knopf

Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina

"I'm drinking this memoir very slowly because it resonates so strongly inside me that to read it too fast feels like it will do damage. Brina tells the story of her parents' marriage and her own upbringing, sewing together complex stories of Okinawan history, Japanese heritage, war, whiteness, and mixed identity with poetic grace. I'm half Japanese and feel grateful to have this kind of record and representation in book form." —Aja Gabel

AAPI Books A House Is a Body
Credit: Algonquin Books

A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy

"If you sometimes forget that you have a body, not just a Zoom avatar, then Swamy's prose is sensual, playful, and so rich you can practically touch it. (I'm just as excited for her debut novel, The Archer, coming this fall.)" — C Pam Zhang

AAPI Books Reenactments: Poems & Translations, by Hai-Dang Phan
Credit: Sarabande Books

Reenactments: Poems & Translations by Hai-Dang Phan

Many of the poems in this book were inspired by a series of An-My Lê's's photographs, which depict Vietnam War reenactments staged in North Carolina in 1999. Phan writes his own reenactments of reenactments of reenactments, acts of distancing that achieve — perhaps because of their distance — a strange, often unsettling level of intimacy and clarity. Interspersed in the book are also Phan's translations of other Vietnamese poets, which we experience both on their own terms and through the specter of the reenactor(s), asking ourselves not only what it is we have experienced, but what an 'experience' really is." —Simon Han

AAPI Books In the Country by Mia Alvar
Credit: Oneworld Publications

In the Country by Mia Alvar

"Wise and prickly and wonderful, careening between New York skyscrapers and a kontrabida in Manila, Alvar charts the modern Filipino diaspora. Her characters are delightfully difficult to pin down, but always suffused with a palpable sense of longing." —C Pam Zhang

"This Filipino-American story collection by Alvar has stayed with me for a long while. Her stories, globetrotting from Manila to Bahrain, are populated by characters in various stages of exile from their origins and themselves. Some believe they're trying to do the right thing, but things often get more complicated than the original bargain." —Pitchaya Sudbanthad

AAPI Books Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
Credit: Hogarth

Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang

"I like to now and then remind myself what a short story collection can and should do, and so I revisit this. Wang's stories are by turns romantic, queer, quiet, loud, epic, intimate. If you think you have ideas about Chinese youth, this collection will dismantle those ideas and replace them with sinewy tales of the Chinese diaspora in all its realness." —Aja Gabel

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Credit: Random House

Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

"It can feel cheap to call a writer 'wise,' but I'm always tempted to do so when I read Yiyun Li's work. Perhaps the wisdom of Where Reasons End is tied to the way the book is crafted, in its acknowledgement of the limitations of language while simultaneously exercising its possibilities. Here, a mother and child converse in 'aftertime' after the child dies by suicide. To tell a story of inexpressible grief, Li wrote an uncategorizable book." —Simon Han

AAPI Books This Is One Way To Dance by Sejal Shah
Credit: University of Georgia Press

This Is One Way To Dance by Sejal Shah

"All Asian Americans know this: the othering can come up anytime, anywhere. Reading Shah's essay collection, I recognized the anxieties — your belonging being questioned, the constant estrangement — as well as the pleasures and pride in one's culture. Altogether spanning many years in Shah's life, each piece deeply explores the shape-shifting complexities of being a something-American." —Pitchaya Sudbanthad

AAPI Books Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen
Credit: W. W. Norton & Company

Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilynn Chin

"Raunchy, bawdy, irreverent, and actually hilarious: Chin takes a cleaver to the stereotype of the submissive Asian girl. I recommend this book so often. It has the feel of a night spent slinging jokes with my best Asian girlfriends, when the cruelty of the world gets to be so much that the only way through is humor." —C Pam Zhang

June Books Gallery
Credit: Knopf

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

"One of my favorite recent novels, A Burning follows the shifting fortunes of three characters caught in the aftermath of a train bombing in modern-day India. The writing is highly compressed, with sharp moments of lyricism cast against an ever-increasing feeling of dread. It's a deceptively quick read, tempting perhaps for readers to focus only on the plot and the "good" and "bad" choices of the individuals. But the book's white space is what lingers, casting a longer shadow on the collective injustices that we both resist and perpetuate." — Simon Han

AAPI Books
Credit: Penguin Books

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

"When I first read this in graduate school, it marked a moment where I realized what a novel could accomplish, what it could hold. It's hard to explain this one, which moves seamlessly between a remote Canadian island and a Tokyo school, as well as between various time periods, and masterfully takes on meta-narrative. But beyond Ozeki's craft, it's simply an engrossing emotional read. I hope I one day write a novel as meaty and alive as this." —Aja Gabel

AAPI Books
Credit: Anchor

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

"This book, told in first-person plural, paints a larger portrait than its slim size might suggest. The portrait is of Japanese women who arrive in early 20th-century America, having been chosen by to-be husbands they've never met. In chapters that could be as brief as a paragraph, we follow their survival in an alien and often cruel society. I often think of Otsuka's beautiful composite when considering how specifics can elucidate a whole." —Pitchaya Sudbanthad

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