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Recommendations by C Pam Zhang

As a Chinese-American woman living in the United States, I wake up daily and fear violence. There are the physical attacks, to be sure; but there is also the pulse of a more familiar brutality. Every day I wake up to see the narratives of Chinese- and Asian-Americans in this country boxed, squeezed, flattened. Racist stereotypes and rhetoric seek to cut us down until we aren’t even human in shape. And yet, despite everything, this is a golden age of literature by authors of Asian descent. The books I’ve read in the past few years are ferocious and funny, beautiful and sad, cool and defiant and wise. I invite you to read these books by Asian-American Penguin Random House authors as a way to stand up against the violence of flattening, and as a way to remember that we are talented and breathtakingly myriad and here. I have never been more proud to be Asian-American.

Words and recommendations by C Pam Zhang, author How Much of These Hills Is Gold.

  1. 1
    Minor Feelings Book Cover Picture
    Minor Feelings Book Cover Picture

    Minor Feelings

    by Cathy Park Hong

    This is the sharp, seething, unsettling rallying cry that Asian-Americans have needed for a long time. Hong wades into uncomfortable territory that both indicts and ratifies the confusion of our nebulous group identity.

    Minor Feelings Book Cover Picture
    Minor Feelings Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

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  2. 2
    A Separation Book Cover Picture
    A Separation Book Cover Picture

    A Separation

    by Katie Kitamura

    I admire restraint, and Kitamura’s novel has that—and style—in spades. Her cool, chilly prose renders an eerie Greek vacation in which a woman searches for her missing ex-husband.

    A Separation Book Cover Picture
    A Separation Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  3. 3
    The Incendiaries Book Cover Picture
    The Incendiaries Book Cover Picture

    The Incendiaries

    by R. O. Kwon

    Almost every page of this slim, elegant novel strikes an unsettling spark. Kwon raises questions about love and obsession, faith and loyalty; and the book beautifully elides a straight answer, leaving the reader to study the shadows.

    The Incendiaries Book Cover Picture
    The Incendiaries Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  4. 4
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture

    Good Talk

    by Mira Jacob

    Jacobs’ graphic memoir about navigating race and family in America is funny and smart and heartbreaking, capturing the cadence of life through the perfect medium. Expect to cry.

    Good Talk Book Cover Picture
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $20.00

    Also available from:

  5. 5
    Sour Heart Book Cover Picture
    Sour Heart Book Cover Picture

    Sour Heart

    by Jenny Zhang

    A swaggering defiance runs through this collection, which doesn’t shrink away from going eyeball-to-eyeball with the mess and ugliness and spunk of the immigrant experience.

    Sour Heart Book Cover Picture
    Sour Heart Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  6. 6
    The People in the Trees Book Cover Picture
    The People in the Trees Book Cover Picture

    The People in the Trees

    by Hanya Yanagihara

    Yanagihara’s luscious first novel deserves far more attention. You’ll journey to an island cut off from the world, and its strange fruits, and its brutal secret of immortality.

    The People in the Trees Book Cover Picture
    The People in the Trees Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  7. 7
    Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Book Cover Picture
    Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Book Cover Picture

    Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

    by Yiyun Li

    If you are feeling isolated and trapped in your own mind, then let Li in. Her quiet, probing essays open small doors, one after the other.

    Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Book Cover Picture
    Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  8. 8
    The Ensemble Book Cover Picture
    The Ensemble Book Cover Picture

    The Ensemble

    by Aja Gabel

    Gabel follows the lives of four young classical musicians struggling to find their way in a cutthroat career. It’s rare to see the joy-agony-joy of pursuing one’s art rendered so well.

    The Ensemble Book Cover Picture
    The Ensemble Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  9. 9
    If I Had Your Face Book Cover Picture
    If I Had Your Face Book Cover Picture

    If I Had Your Face

    by Frances Cha

    Cha’s debut, about four young women living in South Korea, explores the destructive cult of beauty, and the place of female friendship within it.

    If I Had Your Face Book Cover Picture
    If I Had Your Face Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  10. 10
    Pizza Girl Book Cover Picture
    Pizza Girl Book Cover Picture

    Pizza Girl

    by Jean Kyoung Frazier

    A pregnant 18-year-old pizza girl becomes obsessed with her lonely customer. This book is funny and off-kilter and tender, capturing the pain that thrums beneath even the shiniest, most sun-drenched settings.

    Pizza Girl Book Cover Picture
    Pizza Girl Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $24.95

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