To kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let’s take a look at the new releases of three incredible contemporary Asian American authors who transfix audiences with their timely, honest, and immersive prose. These three reads pay homage not only to the ever-rich talent and contribution of AAPI voices of past and present but sustain this profound legacy of historical, cultural, and creative inspiration. Click here for more information on activities to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.
by R.F. Kuang
Yale alumnae June Hayward and Athena Liu were set on twin trajectories toward literary stardom. That is, until Athena dies in a freak accident, and June makes the impulsive decision to steal her newly-completed manuscript. Sending the work to her agent as her own and rebranding her image toward ethnic ambiguity, June’s plagiarism brings her publishing prestige, but her secret remains shaky. Unable to fully escape Athena’s shadow, how far with June go to rationalize her behavior?
Fresh off her dark academia masterpiece, Babel, R.F. Kuang returns with a bold new story that deftly examines book culture and diversity, cultural appropriation, and the erasure of Asian American voices and history. With a slow-burn character arc told through an immersive first-person narration, Yellowface is an unputdownable new release showcasing the incredible range of Kuang’s literary talent.
Coffee Shop Read
by K-Ming Chang
Gods of Want compiles 16 remarkable, wholly unique short stories that examine myth, memory, migration, and the relationships of Asian American women. The spellbinding surreal plots range from ghost-cousins, sexual exploration, and widows taking residence in a former slaughterhouse. For those searching for eerie, queer, and exhilarating short fiction, look no further than this Lambda Literary Award Finalist.
Chang’s “feminist fabulism” is short fiction at its most moving and mesmerizing. Retaining an aura of mystery and transience without skimping on deeper meaning and purpose makes her stories the best of both worlds. With stunning, lush prose, Gods of Want spotlights LGBTQ+ Asian American representation and ruminates on questions of memory and power.
by Trang Thanh Tran
Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, hoping to masquerade as a happy family and get the college money he promised her. However, strange things start happening in the French colonial house they’re living in, leaving Jane paralyzed night after night. As the truth about her family begins to unravel, Jade must face her own identity to stop the house from destroying them all.
Trang Thanh Tran crafts atmospheric horror perfect for YA readers and fans of Mexican Gothic in her debut novel. Imbuing the haunted house trope with pertinent reminders about the history of colonialism, Tran’s writing elevates supernatural themes to create one wonderfully creepy and compelling story steeped in Vietnamese culture.
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