Amy Tan’s Not the Only AAPI Author! Here Are 5 More Amazing AAPI Fiction Authors

When it comes to AAPI fiction authors, which ones immediately come to mind? Most of us think of Amy Tan, but there are many more who deserve our attention.

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AAPI authors -- Rajani Larocca (top left), Thao Thai (bottom left), Kazuo Ishiguro (center), C. Pam Zhang (top right), and Emiko Jean (bottom right) set against a black and white marble background.

It’s not surprising that when we think of AAPI fiction novels, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club almost always springs to mind. Even in passing, most people are well aware of the tales within the book. It’s easy to call to mind quite a manganous novel based around four Chinese women and their varying experiences. Of course, what Tan created was something of a true marvel, even years later. Yet, many AAPI fiction authors who’ve also contributed such splendid works merit recognition. In doing so, it may be possible to place their works alongside Tan’s as stories worth noting and discussing throughout time. So, we highlight these five amazing AAPI fiction authors and their wonderfully written stories.

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

To start, we bring you the wonderful Ohio based author, Thao Thai, who is the recipient of this year’s Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Award and longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Her 2023 debut novel, Banyan Moon, became the July 2023 Read with Jenna Book Club title, a Book of the Month selection, and booksellers’ IndieNext pick. Want to discover more of her work? Check out the Los Angeles Review of Books, WIRED, Lit Hub, and several other publications, and be sure to immerse yourself in Thai’s masterfully written Banyan Moon.

Author Thao Thai on the left in black and white and her book "Banyan Moon" on the right set against a black and white marble background.

Follow Ann Tran and her estranged mother, Huơng, as they cope with the passing of their beloved matriarch, Minh. While Ann finds herself pregnant and her planned future in limbo, Huơng grapples with mourning her mother, Minh, and dealing with resentment over the relationship Minh had with Ann that Huơng never did. When the two discover that Minh has left them both the dilapidated, gothic Banyan manor and Ann’s childhood home, mother and daughter are forced to reckon with the teeming questions of their pasts and uncertain futures as they try to repair their broken relationship without the one person that held them together.

Parallel to Ann and Huơng’s story is Minh’s, moving from a teenager living in Vietnam during the war to a mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. Minh’s long-buried secrets come to light when Ann makes a shocking discovery about her grandmother and the life-altering decisions she’s made.

Land of Milk and Honey by C. Pam Zhang

She’s the author of two bestselling novels, How Much of These Hills Is Gold and Land of Milk and Honey, and a number of essays and short fiction. C. Pam Zhang has received several awards, including the Acadamy of Arts Rosenthal Award, the Asian Pacific Award for Literature, and the California Book Award. She was also a finalist for the Pen America Awards, the Center for Fiction, and the National Book Critics Circle. Want to dive into more of Zhang’s work? Check out Best American Short Stories, The Cut, and The New Yorker, just to name a few publications. Discover the beauty of her latest novel, Land of Milk and Honey.

Land of Milk and Honey by C. Pam Zhang - portrait of the author and the book cover

In this sensuous, imaginative ode to food and exploration of desire, deception, faith, and survival, a chef flees her smog-riddled city and dying career and heads for a mountaintop colony, where the air is fresh and clear. The chef finds herself planted in a decadent world created by her mysterious employer and his daughter, serving the global elite. Here, her pleasures of taste and touch are reawakened. But this place is far from wonderful, as the seduction of wonder and violence takes her over, and she’s aroused by the stripping away of her boundaries. Soon, the chef is thrust into a world she must reshape beyond the plate.

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Born in India and immigrating to the US, Harvard College and Harvard Medical School graduate, Rajani LaRocca is now a physician and award-winning author of several children’s books. With an indiscriminate appetite for reading fiction, nonfiction, and even cereal boxes, LaRocca now pens books for young readers in various genres, including picture books, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Written in verse, her middle-grade novel, Red, White, and Whole, won the 2022 Newberry Award, the Dean Myer Award, the 2021 New England Book Award, and a number of other honors. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found co-hosting the STEM Women and Kidlit Podcast. Don’t wait to jump into her touching children’s book, Red, White, and Whole.

Author Rajani LaRocca on the left in black and white and her book "Red, White, and Whole" on the right set against a black and white marble background.

Meet Reha, a young schoolgirl who’s torn between being the only Indian American at school and her family’s traditional ways at home. Her parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted, especially her mother, or Amma, from whom she feels completely disconnected. But when Reha’s Amma falls deathly ill, she’s willing to do anything to help her Amma get well again. For Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor (despite her revulsion at the sight of blood), she’ll do anything to save her Amma. If she has to become the perfect daughter, she’ll do it, as long as it will make her Amma better again.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This Nobel Laureate hails from Nagasaki, Japan, immigrating to Great Britain in 1960. Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, author of such works as A Pale View of Hills, An Artist of the Floating Day, and Remains of the Day, has won the 1982 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, the 1986 Whitebread Prize, and the 1989 Man Booker Prize, respectively. In 2008, Ishiguro was ranked #32 on The Times’s The 50th Greatest British Writers Since 1945, and in 2017, the Swedish awarded Sir Kazuo Ishiguro the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Want to read more of his work? Check out any number of Ishiguro’s novels to date, and be sure to get into his latest stellar novel, Klara and the Sun.

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on the left in black and white and his book "Klara and the Sun" on the right set against a black and white marble background.

Klara is an Artificial Friend with the impeccable ability to observe, from the customers who amble into the store to the passersby who trail along the streets outside. Of those who happen to make their way into the store, Klara watches them carefully, remaining forever hopeful that she will be chosen. One day soon. This introspective narrative comes alive through the mind of an unlikely narrator in a story that challenges readers to explore the question of what it means to love.

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

She’s a New York Times bestselling author of adult and YA fiction. Her work has been featured on shows like Good Morning America as a book club pick and selected by Reese Witherspoon as a young adult book club pick. Jean’s work has also been featured in such publications as Entertainment Weekly, Time, Marie Claire, and many others. Be sure to get into Jean’s other works, especially her inspiring and humorous novel, Mika in Real Life.

Author Emiko Jean on the left in black and white and her book "Mika in Real Life" on the right set against a black and white marble background.

A story built on lies spirals out of control for Mika Suzuki, whose life is in shambles. Her last relationship blew up in her face. She’s lost yet another dead-end job. And she’s nothing more than an utter disappointment to her traditional Japanese parents. Fate strikes when Mika receives a phone call from the daughter she gave up for adoption sixteen years ago. Penny’s eager to get to know her birth mother, and Mika is just hoping she can be someone her daughter can be proud of. But one little embellishment sets potential disaster in motion. And when Mika falls for Penny’s adoptive, widowed father, she thinks there’s a chance she can have it all. The question is: can she? As her deception catches up to her, Mika must answer the tough question: Who is she in real life?

These are only some of the phenomenal AAPI authors and their works deserving of greater recognition, but there are many other authors that are part of this vast well with enriching stories to share with mainstream readers. Immerse yourself in these and more stories, and help make these authors household names.

For more stories by and about AAPI authors, click here and here.

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