In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we want to bring your attention to a few of the many amazing authors who are from, or trace their roots back to, the Asian Pacific region.
Alexander Chee is the author of two novels. Edinburgh, set in Maine, details in beautiful and haunting prose the profound damage and destruction of abuse, as we follow the life of a young Korean-American boy named Fee and the path his life takes in the months and years following his victimization. Chee’s second novel The Queen of the Night is another powerful tale, this time centering on strong women in a repressive 19th century world. The Queen of the Night chronicles the rise to fame of a supremely gifted opera singer, who overcomes a forlorn past with a bravado befitting the lyrical profession in which she thrives.
Celeste Ng made her breakthrough debut in 2014 with the instant classic, Everything I Never Told You. It is the story of a Chinese American father and white American mother, who must grapple with the death of their daughter, the unrealistic expectations they’d set for her, and the clouds of doubt, resentment and racism that are fracturing them apart.
Viet Thanh Nguyen authored a collection of short stories and a nonfiction work about the Vietnam War before writing his thought-provoking novel, The Sympathizer. This is a suspenseful, fast-paced tale of espionage and heartbreak that centers on a duplicitous half-French half-Vietnamese army captain and his resettlement in the United States after the fall of Saigon.
Banana Yoshimoto’s latest novel Moshi-Moshi is a poignant and wistful story about a daughter trying to make sense of her father’s death in a suicide pact with a woman who was not her mother. The book explores the grief process both Yocchan and her mom take, while her father’s ghost tries to contact Yocchan through her dreams. The hip Tokyo neighborhood of Shimokitazawa is very much a character here, as it vividly comes to life through Yoshimoto’s evocative language.