Reading Guides: Asian-American Fiction

Printable Guide With Library Holdings

Asian American Fiction

Suggested Titles

Chinese-American | Indian-American | Japanese-American | Korean-American | Vietnamese-American


Chinese-American

Chieng, Chieh / A Long Stay in a Distant Land -- PS3603.H547 L66 2005
How the zany Lum family of Orange County, California deals with the disappearance of their beloved Uncle Bo in Hong Kong.

Chow, Cara / Bitter Melon --- PZ7.C44639 Bi 2011
With the encouragement of one of her teachers, a Chinese American high school senior asserts herself against her demanding, old-school mother and carves out an identity for herself in late 1980s San Francisco.

Gish, Jen / World and Town: A Novel --- PS3560.E474 W67 2010
Two years after burying her husband and best friend, 68-year-old Hattie Kong moves to a small New England town where she is joined by a Cambodian family and reunited with an ex-lover before tackling challenges in the form of fundamentalist Christians and struggling family farms.

Jin. Ha / A Map of Betrayal --- PS3560.I6M37 2014
From the award-winning author of Waiting: a spare, haunting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries—China and the United States—and two families as it explores the complicated terrain of love and honor.

Keltner, Kim Wong / The Dim Sum of All Things --- PS3611.E48 D56 2004
A thoroughly modern third-generation ABC (American-born Chinese) falls in love with a "white-devil."

Kwan, Kevin / China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel --- PS3611.W36 C48 2015
Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia's most eligible bachelor, discovers her birthfather.

Kwok, Jean / Girl in Translation --- PS3611.W65 G57 2010
Caught between the pressure to succeed in America, her duty to their family, and her own personal desires, Kimberly Chang, an immigrant girl from Hong Kong, learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Lee, Chang-rae / On Such a Full Sea --- PS3562.E3347 O5 2014
In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as high walled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

Lee, Gus / China Boy --- PS3562 .E3524 C47 1994
How a small and vulnerable Chinese boy learns to survive in on the tough streets of San Francisco in the 1950s.

Ng, Celeste / Everything I Never Told You --- PS3614.G83 E94 2014
The death of a teenage girl, Lydia, from a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio, suddenly forces a once tight-knit family to unravel in unexpected ways.

Pung, Alice / Lucy and Linh --- PZ7.1.P86Lu 2016
In Australia, Lucy tries to balance her life at home surrounded by her Chinese immigrant family, with her life at a pretentious private school.

See, Lisa / China Dolls: A Novel --- PS3569.E3334 C47 2014
A bold and bittersweet story of secrets and sacrifice, love and betrayal, prejudice and passion, China Dolls reveals a rich portrait of female friendship, as three young women navigate the "Chop Suey Circuit"--America's extravagant all-Asian revues of the 1930s and '40s--and endure the attack on Pearl Harbor and the shadow of World War II.

Tan, Amy / The Bonesetter's Daughter --- PS3570.A48 B6 2003
While her mother struggles with Alzheimer's disease, her daughter struggles to understand their family's Chinese origins.

Indian-American

Cherian, Anne / A Good Indian Wife: A Novel --- PS3603.H476 G63 2008
A clash of hearts and cultures set against the divergent backdrops of rural India and downtown San Francisco. Handsome anesthesiologist Neel prides himself on his decisiveness, both in and out of the operating room. So when he agrees to return to India to visit his ailing grand­father, he is sure he'll be able to resist his family's pleas that he marry a "good" Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a promising career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage.

Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee / Queen of Dreams --- PS3554.I86 Q44 2004
Protagonist Rakhi is struggling to understand her deceased mother's dream journals. Meanwhile, her own dreams are floundering as she and her Indian friends are attacked as terrorists after 9/11.

Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee / The Unknown Errors of Our Lives --- PS3554.I86 U5 2001
n nine poignant stories spiked with humor and intelligence, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni captures lives at crossroad moments–caught between past and present, home and abroad, tradition and fresh experience.

Hidier, Tanuja Desai / Bombay Blues --- PS3562.A316 I58 1999
Indian American Dimple Lala questions her heart while on a trip to Bombay, on which her boyfriend pushes her away to embark on a spiritual journey, her cousin tests the boundaries of tradition, and her sister opens up about her homosexuality.

Lahiri, Jhumpa / The Interpreter of Maladies --- PS3562.A316 I58 1999
Stories about Indians in India and America. The story, A Temporary Matter, is on mixed marriage, Mrs. Sen's is on the adaptation of an immigrant to the U.S., and in the title story an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors.

Lahiri, Jhumpa / The Lowland: A Novel --- PS3562.A316 L69 2013
Two brothers bound by tragedy. A fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past. A country torn by revolution. A love that lasts long past death. An extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: the best-selling author of The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth.

Mahajan, Karan / The Association of Small Bombs --- PS3613.A34925A87 2016
After witnessing his two friends killed by a "small" bomb that detonated in a Delhi marketplace, Mansoor Ahmed becomes involved with a charismatic young activist, whose allegiances and beliefs are more changeable than he could have imagined.

Pradhan, Monica / Hindi-Bindi Club --- PS3563.C384425 H56 2007
For decades they have remained close, sharing treasured recipes, honored customs, and the challenges of women shaped by ancient ways yet living modern lives.

Roy, Sandip / Don’t Let Him Know --- PR9499.4.R696 D66 2015
In a boxy apartment building in an Illinois university town, Romola Mitra, a newly arrived young bride, anxiously awaits her first letter from home in India. When she accidentally opens the wrong letter, it changes her life. Decades later, her son Amit finds that letter and thinks he has discovered his mother's secret. But secrets have their own secrets sometimes.

Umrigar, Thrity / The Story Hour --- PS3621.M75S76 2014
An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates.

Japanese-American

Hamamura, John / Color of the Sea --- PS3608.A549436 C65 2006
Growing up in a time between wars, Sam Hamada finds that the culture of his native Japan is never far from his heart. In this beautifully written historical epic about a boy in search of manhood, a girl in search of truth, and two peoples divided by war, Sam must draw upon his training, his past, and everything he has learned if he's ever to span his two cultures and see Keiko, or his family, again.

Hirahara, Naomi / Gasa-Gasa Girl --- PS3608.I76 G37 2005
Between a father and a daughter... Between one culture and another... An astonishing mystery starts to unfold... From the time she was a child, Mas Arai's daughter, Mari, was completely gasa-gasa—never sitting still, always on the go, getting into everything.

Iida, Deborah / Middle Son --- PS3559 .I33 M53 1996
When Spencer Fujii's grandparents arrived in Hawaii at the turn of the century, they brought Japanese customs with them. Five decades later, those traditional expectations still shape the lives of the Fujii family.

Kadohata, Cynthia / Weedflower--- PZ7 .K1166 We 2006
After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp on a Mojave Indian reservation in Arizona, she helps her family and neighbors, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.

Kutsukake, Lynne /  The Translation of Love --- PR9199.4.K865T73 2016
An emotionally gripping portrait of post-war Japan, where a newly repatriated girl must help a classmate find her missing sister.
(Japanese-Canadian)

Otuska, Julie / The Buddha in the Attic--- PS3615.T88 B83 2011
Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

Shigekuni, Julie / A Bridge Between Us --- PS 3569 .H4865 B75 1995
Gracefully interweaving the distinctive voices of four generations of Japanese-American women, a haunting story explores the heart and history of a family, the secrets that separate mothers and daughters, and the love that binds them together.

Taniguchi, Yuko / The Ocean in the Closet --- PS3620.A685 O34 2007
Set just after the end of the Vietnam War, this engrossing coming-of-age story features the young daughter of a Vietnam vet and a World War II Japanese adoptee, both of whom are dealing with personal demons that are tearing apart the family.

Waters, Mary Yukari / The Favorites---PS3623 .AA869 F38 2009
Explores the complex relationships among three generations of women bound by a painful family history and a culture in which
custom dictates behavior.

Yamanaka, Lois-Ann / Blu's Hanging --- PS3575 .A434 B58 1997
The bittersweet story of the Ogatas, a ragtag family of orphans in Hawaii reeling from the death of their mother.

Korean-American

Adachi, Jiro / The Island of Bicycle Dancers --- PS3601.D34 I85 2004
The Island of Bicycle Dancers is the coming-of-age-story of twenty-year-old Yurika Song, a Korean-Japanese woman who comes from Japan to New York City for a summer to work with her Korean relatives and improve her English.

Carey, Mike / Re-Gifters -- PN6727.C377 R44 2007
A graphic novel about Korean-American teenager Dixie, who is trying to win a martial arts championship only to be side-lined by a boy.

Chung, Catherine / Forgotten Country --- PS3603.H853 F67 2012
Learning on the night of her sister's birth that a daughter has been lost in every generation of her Korean family, Janie assumes a protective role over her sister while learning more cautionary stories from her optimistic father and mythology-minded mother.

Lee, Krys / How I Became a North Korean --- PS3612.E3446H69 2016
Three young people struggle to make new lives for themselves in the dangerous region where China borders North Korea.

Lee, Min Jin / Pachinko --- PS3612.E346P33 2017
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all.

Na, An / The Fold --- PZ7.A51822 Fo 2008
Korean American high school student Joyce Kim feels like a nonentity compared to her beautiful older sister, and when her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery on her eyes, she jumps at the chance, thinking it will change her life for the better.

Na, An / Wait For Me --- PZ7.N1243 Wai 2006
As her senior year in high school approaches, Mina yearns to find her own path in life but working at the family business, taking care of her little sister, and dealing with her mother's impossible expectations are as stifling as the southern California heat, until she falls in love with a man who offers a way out.

Park, Patricia / Re Jane --- PS3616.A74357R4 2015 
Jane Re—a half-Korean, half-American orphan—takes a position as an au pair for two Brooklyn academics and their daughter, but a brief sojourn in Seoul, where she reconnects with family, causes her to wonder if the man she loves is really the man for her as she tries to find balance between two cultures.

Shteyngart, Gary / Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel --- PS3619 .H79 S87 2010
In the near future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of a Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of ’printed, bound media artifacts’ (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart?

Woo, Sung J. / Love Love: A Novel--- PS3623.O6225L68 2015
Judy Lee's life has not turned out the way she'd imagined. She's divorced, she's broke, and her dreams of being a painter have fallen by the wayside. Her co-worker Roger might be a member of the Yakuza gang, but he's also the only person who's asked her on a date in the last year.

Vietnamese-American

Cao, Lan / The Lotus and the Storm --- PS3553.A5823 L68 2014
Cao transports readers back to the war, illuminating events central to twentieth-century history through the lives of one Vietnamese American family.

Kupersmith, Violet / The Frangipani Hotel: Stories --- PS3611.U639 F73 2014
A collection of linked short stories about ghosts and hauntings in modern Vietnam and in the Vietnamese-American community. Some are inspired by old Vietnamese legends but reimagined in the post-1975 world.

Nguyen, Bich Minh / Pioneer Girl --- PS3614.G84P56 2013
Discovering a family heirloom that her mother may have received from Laura Ingalls Wilder, PhD graduate Lee Lien explores the tenuous connection between her ancestors and the famous pioneer author only to discover a trail of clues that lead to fateful encounters.

Nguyen, Bich Minh / Short Girls -- PS3614.G84 S47 2009
A mesmerizing novel about estranged sisters and the cultural and family history that binds them.

Nguyen, Viet Thanh / The Refugees --- PS3614.G97A6 2017
Nguyen's next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

Phan, Aimee / The Reeducation of Cherry Truong: A Novel --- PS3616 .H36 R44 2012
When her brother is exiled to live with distant relatives in Vietnam, a young woman journeys to her family’s homeland to bring him back and uncovers mysteries about secret loves, desperate choices, and the human consequences of war.

Tran, Vu / Dragonfish: A Novel --- PS3620.R363D83 2015 
Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, 'Junior,' and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage.

Vida, Nina / Goodbye Saigon -- PS3572 .I29 G6 1994
Two women—Ahn, a fast-talking, Vietnamese beauty, and Jana, the Anglo secretary of a coke-sniffing, gambling lawyer—each fleeing the pain of their pasts, join forces to forge an independent future amid the turbulent world of Little Saigon, Los Angeles.

Last Updated: April 2017

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