Each May, in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we take a look at the past year’s novels and short stories from AAPI authors. You’ll find the full list of recent AAPI fiction here. To get you started, here are some highlights from this year’s list:
The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang. When Big Leo – founder of Fine Chao, the best Chinese food in Haven, Wisconsin – dies under mysterious circumstances, suspicion falls on his three variosly assimilated sons, James, Ming and Dagou, in a perceptive and poignant Chinese-American rendition of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.
Nuclear Family, by Joseph Han. What – or who – possessed Korean Hawaiian Jacob Cho to attempt to cross over into North Korea? Back home at their Honolulu plate lunch restaurant, rumors fly that he must be a spy – a suspicion that seems all too true when on January 13, 2018, sirens suddenly blare, (falsely) alerting the island to a rain of incoming ballistic missiles.
Circa, by Devi S. Laskar. Coming of age in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bengali-American teenager Heera Sanyal feels the American Dream slip from her grasp when her best friend is killed by a drunk driver, leaving her both trapped and solaced by the clasp of her family’s traditions.
Auē, by Becky Manawatu. It is a cry of dismay, or distress, and for Taukiri, “auē” is almost a kind of music, telling of his traumatic upbringing, and calling out towards a hope that things might someday get better. This award-winning new novel sings with raw, lyrical power of the contemporary Maori experience.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key: A Secret Staircase Mystery, by Gigi Pandian. In this delightfully quirky locked-room mystery series debut, out-of-work Las Vegas magician Tempest Raj stumbles over the corpse of her stage double, and it seems the only answer lies in a family curse that claimed her own mother’s life – or did it?
The Verifiers, by Jane Pek. Claudia Lin’s detective work is confined to checking up on the veracity of online dating profiles, until one of her clients suddenly turns out to be an imposter, and then turns up dead, and the mystery buff can’t resist jumping in with both feet.
The Immortal King Rao, by Vari Vauhini. Did Athena’s billionaire father escape from his doomed existence as Dalit, on the lowest run of India’s caste system, only to perpetuate and perfect those same social inequities when he struck it rich in Seattle’s heady tech scene? A thought provoking dystopian thriller.
Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo. When budding starlet Luli Wei discovers that the Hollywood studio system is an predatory gothic nightmare, there is only one solution: she must become the biggest monster of them all.
To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara. Spanning three centuries from 1893 to 1993 and 2093, this ambitious epic explores our quest for love and fulfillment against a steadily darkening backdrop of isolation, xenophobia and ecological decline.
We’ve just scratched the surface here, so check out our full list of recent AAPI fiction here.
~ Posted by David W.