Top 10 Tuesday: Asian Authors

Top Ten Tuesday! More like top 16 because I couldn’t choose just 10. This week, in light of the recent hate crimes being committed against Asians in North America, I am sharing books by Asian authors that I have read and enjoyed. I also have a stack of books by Asian authors that I’m looking forward to reading but haven’t included because then the pile would be out of control. So keep your eyes open for an Asian authors 2.0 post at some point. On this list we have novelists and poets of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Singaporean, Vietnamese, and Malaysian descent. There are many beautiful stories here about Asian culture in its many different forms, and reading them might help others better understand things from an Asian perspective. Stop Asian hate!

1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Yanagihara was born in Los Angeles, CA and grew up in Hawaii. She is of partial Japanese decent through her father and her mother is from Seoul.

A Little Life is a 2015 novel by American novelist Hanya Yanagihara. The novel was written over the course of eighteen months. Despite the length and difficult subject matter, it became a bestseller.


2. Ru by Kim Thuy. Thuy is a Vietnamese-born Canadian writer.

Ru is a novel by a Vietnamese-born Canadian novelist Kim Thúy, first published in French in 2009 by Montreal publisher Libre Expression. It was translated into English in 2012 by Sheila Fischman and published by Vintage Canada.


3. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Lee is a Korean-American writer, born in Seoul, South Korea.

Pachinko is the second novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually immigrates to Japan. The character-driven tale features a large ensemble of characters who become subjected to issues of racism and stereotypes, among other events with historical origins in the 20th-century Korean experiences with Japan.


4. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a Japanese writer, born in Kyoto.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル, Nejimakidori Kuronikuru) is a novel published in 1994–1995 by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The American translation and its British adaptation, dubbed the “only official translations” (English), are by Jay Rubin and were first published in 1997. For this novel, Murakami received the Yomiuri Literary Award, which was awarded to him by one of his harshest former critics, Kenzaburō Ōe.


5. She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry. Barry is an American poet and novelist, born in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), Vietnam.

Vietnam, 1972: under a full moon, on the banks of the Song Ma River, a baby girl is pulled out of her dead mother’s grave. This is Rabbit, who is born with the ability to speak with the dead. She will flee from her destroyed village with a makeshift family thrown together by war. As Rabbit channels the voices of the dead, their chorus reconstructs the turbulent history of a nation, from the days of French Indochina and the World War II rubber plantations to the chaos of postwar reunification. Radiant, lyrical, and deeply moving, this is the unforgettable story of one woman’s struggle to unearth the true history of Vietnam while also carving out a place for herself within it.

Penguin Randomhouse

6. An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim. Lim is a Singaporean Canadian writer. She was born in Toronto and raised in Singapore, before returning to Canada and joining the faculty at Sheridan College.

Shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Longlisted for the 2019 CBC Canada Reads, Longlisted for the 2019 Sunburst Award

An unforgettable love story of two people who are at once mere weeks and many years apart, for readers of Station Eleven. America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. She agrees to a radical plan. Time travel has been invented; if she signs up for a one-way trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years. But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a terrifying new world to find Frank, to discover if he is alive, and to see if their love has endured.

Google Books

7. The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee. Lee is a Chinese Canadian broadcaster and novelist, born in East Vancouver.

A moving portrait of three generations of the Chan family living in Vancouver’s Chinatown Sammy Chan was sure she’ d escaped her family obligations when she fled Vancouver six years ago, but with her sister’s upcoming marriage, her turn has come to care for their aging mother. Abandoned by all four of her older sisters, jobless and stuck in a city she resents, Sammy finds herself cobbling together a makeshift family history and delving into stories that began in 1913, when her grandfather, Seid Quan, then eighteen years old, first stepped on Canadian soil. The End of East weaves in and out of the past and the present, picking up the threads of the Chan family’s stories: Seid Quan, whose loneliness in this foreign country is profound even as he joins the Chinatown community; Shew Lin, whose hopes for her family are threatened by her own misguided actions; Pon Man, who struggles with obligation and desire; and Siu Sang, who tries to be the caregiver everyone expects, even as she feels herself unravelling. And in the background, five little girls grow up under the weight of family expectations. As the past unfolds around her, Sammy finds herself embroiled in a volatile mixture of a dangerous love affair, a difficult and duty-filled relationship with her mother, and the still-fresh memories of her father’s long illness. An exquisite and evocative debut from one of Canada’s bright new literary stars, The End of East sets family conflicts against the backdrop of Vancouver’s Chinatown – a city within a city where dreams are shattered as quickly as they’re built, and where history repeats itself through the generations.

Google Books.

8. Human Acts by Han Kang. Kang is a South Korean writer and winner of the Man Booker prize for her novel The Vegetarian.

Human Acts (Sonyeoni onda (소년이 온다) is a South Korean novel written by Han Kang. The novel draws upon the democratization uprising that occurred on May 18, 1980 in Gwangju, Korea. In the novel, one boy’s death provides the impetus for a dimensional look into the Gwangju uprising and the lives of the people in that city. Human Acts won Korea’s Manhae Prize for Literature


9. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. She grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and is the daughter of the American linguist, anthropologist and Mayanist scholar, Floyd Lounsbury, and Masako Yokoyama. In 1980, she graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in English and Asian Studies, and upon graduation, she received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship (Monbukagakusho) to do graduate work at Nara University.

A Tale for the Time Being is a metafictional novel by Ruth Ozeki narrated by two characters, a sixteen-year-old Japanese American girl in Tokyo who keeps a diary, and a Japanese American writer living on an island off British Columbia who finds the diary washed up on shore some time after the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan.


10. Half World by Hiromi Goto. Goto is a Japanese-Canadian writer, editor, and instructor of creative writing. She was born in Japan.

Melanie Tamaki is an outsider. The only child of a loving but neglectful mother is just barely coping with school and with life. But everything changes on the day she returns home to find her mother is missing, lured back to Half World by the vindictive Mr. Glueskin. Soon Melanie begins an epic and darkly fantastical journey to save her parents. What she does not yet realize is that the future of the universe depends upon her success.

Google Books

11. The Leavers by Lisa Ko. Born in New York City, Ko grew up as the daughter of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines in a predominantly white area of suburban New Jersey.


Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Electric Literature

Lisa Ko’s powerful debut, The Leavers, is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.

Google Books

12. Waiting by Ha Jin. Xuefei Jin is a Chinese-American poet and novelist using the pen name Ha Jin. Ha comes from his favorite city, Harbin. His poetry is associated with the Misty Poetry movement.

Waiting is a 1999 novel by Chinese-American author Ha Jin which won the National Book Award that year. It is based on a true story that Jin heard from his wife when they were visiting her family at an army hospital in China.


13. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. Yangsze Choo is a fourth-generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant before writing her first novel, the New York Times bestseller The Ghost Bride.

A haunting, evocative and highly unusual romantic debut and now a Netflix Mandarin original drama premiering January 2020!Seventeen-year-old Li Lan lives in 1890s Malaya with her quietly-ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition – the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son.

Google Books

14. For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu. Fu is a Canadian-born writer, living in Seattle, Washington. She was born in Vancouver, British Columbia to immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Fu studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

For Today I Am a Boy is a novel written by Kim Fu, published in 2014 by Harper Collins. It follows the life of Audrey Huang, a young transgender Chinese child, throughout her childhood and adolescence in Fort Michel, Ontario, and adulthood and transformation in Montreal, Quebec.


15. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Celeste Ng is an American writer and novelist born in Pittsburg to Chinese parents. She has released many short stories that have been published in a variety of literary journals. Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, released on June 26, 2014, won the Amazon Book of the Year award, as well as praise from critics.

Little Fires Everywhere is a 2017 novel by American author Celeste Ng. It is her second novel and takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where Ng grew up. The novel is about two families living in 1990s Shaker Heights who are brought together through their children.


16. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. Thien is a Canadian short story writer and novelist. The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature has considered her work as reflecting the increasingly trans-cultural nature of Canadian literature, exploring art, expression and politics inside Cambodia and China, as well as within diasporic Asian communities. Thien was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1974 to a Malaysian Chinese father and a Hong Kong Chinese mother.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a novel by Madeleine Thien published in 2016 in Canada. It follows a 10-year-old girl and her mother who invite a Chinese refugee into their home. Critically acclaimed, in 2016 the author was awarded both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for this novel.


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