10 of the Best Books by Asian Authors | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Asian authors have made a great impact on the literary landscape, offering stories that are both captivating and thought-provoking. From Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha to Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, there is a rich tapestry of Asian-American, South East Asian and East Asian literature. So, here are 10 books by Asian authors who are considered some of the best:


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a sweeping saga that follows the lives of a Korean family across generations. Set against the backdrop of Japan’s tumultuous historical and political landscape, the story begins in 1910 and explores themes of love, sacrifice, and identity. It delves into the harsh realities of discrimination faced by Koreans living in Japan, as well as the resilience and strength of the characters.

Through richly developed characters and vivid storytelling, Pachinko paints a vivid picture of family bonds, cultural clashes, and the pursuit of dreams. It is an engrossing tale that captures the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart is a deeply moving memoir by Michelle Zauner, exploring her experiences of grief, identity, and connection to her Korean heritage. The book chronicles Zauner’s emotional journey after her mother’s death from cancer, delving into their relationship and the cultural significance of food.

Through poignant anecdotes and heartfelt reflections, Zauner navigates the complexities of loss and the healing power of music and cooking. Crying in H Mart beautifully captures the universal themes of love, family, and identity, while offering a personal and intimate account of Zauner’s grief and her quest to preserve her mother’s memory.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is a poignant and introspective novel that explores themes of identity, family, and the power of language. The story is told through the letter-like narrative of a young Vietnamese-American man named Little Dog, addressing his illiterate mother. Little Dog chronicles his experiences growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, grappling with complex relationships, addiction, and his own queerness.

 Vuong’s storytelling allows readers to deeply immerse themselves in Little Dog’s journey of self-discovery and understanding. Through powerful language and vivid imagery, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous seamlessly weaves together the beauty and pain inherent in human existence.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata tells the story of Keiko Furukura, a woman who finds solace and purpose in her job at a convenience store in Japan. The book delves into Keiko’s struggle to fit into societal norms and expectations as she ventures into her thirties, unmarried and deemed unconventional by society.

Murata explores conformity, identity, and acceptance through Keiko’s experiences and interactions with her colleagues and family. As Keiko navigates the challenges of conforming to societal expectations while staying true to herself, Convenience Store Woman offers a thought-provoking examination of societal pressures and the pursuit of personal fulfilment.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo is a novel that explores the pervasive gender inequality in contemporary South Korea through the life of its eponymous protagonist, Kim Jiyoung. The story follows Kim Jiyoung through various stages of her life, from her birth in 1982 to her struggles as a wife and mother.

The novel is inspired by real-life statistics and incidents in South Korea that shed light on the discrimination and harassment women face in both public and private spaces. Cho Nam-Joo’s insightful portrayal of Kim Jiyoung offers readers a sobering look at the gender inequality that still persists in many societies around the world.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a college student in Tokyo during the 1960s. The novel delves into his memories of his first love, Naoko, and his complex relationships with other women, primarily the emotionally unstable Midori. It is a tale of melancholy and introspection, as Toru navigates themes of love, loss, and mental health.

The story captures the coming-of-age struggles and existential crises faced by young adults in a society marked by social and political upheaval. Murakami brings together themes of desire, isolation, and the search for meaning, creating a captivating exploration of human emotions and the fragility of life.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is a captivating novel centred around a Tokyo café called Fugetsu. This café possesses an extraordinary ability: it allows customers to travel back in time. Through a collection of interconnected stories, the book explores themes of regret, second chances, and the fragility of time.

Kawaguchi creates a deeply emotional and thought-provoking narrative, drawing readers into the lives of the café’s visitors and their profound experiences. The blend of fantasy and human connection in this novel offers a touch of magic for those seeking a compelling exploration of the intricacies of life and the power of time.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a gripping novel about a community in Shaker Heights, Ohio, that is turned upside down when Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl move into town. As their lives become intertwined with the affluent Richardson family, tensions simmer between them, eventually exploding into multiple acts of arson that destroy the Richardson’s home.

Through her relatable and complex characters, Ng explores topics such as motherhood, race, class, and identity, creating an amazing story that exposes the complexities of human relationships and the secrets that lie beneath the surface of even the most idyllic communities.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang takes readers on a compelling exploration of identity and the complexities of race in the publishing industry. Set in a satirical backdrop, the novel unravels the story of Athena Liu, a successful writer of colour, and June Hayward, a white writer yearning for recognition. When Athena tragically dies, June seizes the opportunity and publishes Athena’s unpublished manuscript under the guise of Juniper Song.

Through this audacious act, Yellowface confronts issues of racial diversity and the power dynamics within the industry. With its thought-provoking story, the book sheds light on the blurred lines of cultural appropriation and leaves you with a profound examination of these timely and significant topics.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a glamorous and entertaining novel that follows the love story of Rachel Chu, an American-born Chinese professor, and Nicholas Young, a wealthy heir to a sprawling fortune. When Rachel accompanies Nicholas to Singapore for a friend’s wedding, she is thrust into a world of opulence and extravagance beyond her imagination, as she meets his eccentric family and navigates the complexities of social status and cultural expectations.

Through its engaging plot, the book explores themes of love, family, and the clash between tradition and modernity. Kwan offers a delightful and humorous glimpse into the lives of the ultra-rich in Asia, providing both entertainment and insight.

These ten books by Asian authors have resonated with readers worldwide, showcasing the diversity and richness of Asian literature.  

Have you read any of these books before? Do you have any favourite books by Asian authors that we missed? Comment below and let us know!

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