Female authors of Asian descent need to be celebrated. Does it come as a surprise that the top-grossing authors in the world are predominantly white? Certainly, it’s not for a lack of talented, diverse authors. Not a single Asian author, let alone a female author of Asian descent, makes the cut.
Despite a severe lack of representation, there are an overwhelming amount of award winners out there.
The only fact that holds true for all women of Asian descent is that they are extremely diverse. Every culture is unique, which manifests in its authors.
Everything about the culture and landscape of their generational history shapes their respective voices. This poses both beautiful experiences and hardships reflected in the following books.
This list of 47 books by female authors of Asian descent showcases just a small portion of incredibly talented writers that you should add to your book list now.
Note: Although this list has been personally curated, some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we may earn a commission. This helps us with website maintenance costs as an independent media source.
1. Death Threat (Vivek Shraya & Ness Lee)
CATEGORY: Non-fiction/Graphic novel/LGBT
The award-winning trans female author Shraya gets vulnerable with readers through the depiction of a period in her life where she received transphobic hate mail. Ness Lee, award-winning in her own right, makes this novel even more of an artistic masterpiece as illustrator.
2. Last Night at the Telegraph Club (Malinda Lo)
Two women fall in love in 1954 while living through the Red Scare in San Francisco’s Chinatown. This becomes especially dangerous as one lover is Chinese, but that won’t diminish their romance.
3. Beijing Doll (Chun Sue)
This coming-of-age story centers around Jaifu, a Chinese teenager who loves rock-and-roll and hates societal norms. Sue draws inspiration from her old diary entries, which divulge lost innocence.
4. Pachinko (Min Jin Lee)
A teenager in the 1900s finds herself impregnated by a wealthy foreigner in Korea. She marries a minister on his way to Japan despite this, altering her life and the lives of her family for generations.
5. Miracle Creek (Angie Kim)
The Korean Yoo family finds themselves entwined in a mystery after their oxygen pressure chamber explodes. The morbid explosion may be tied to the nature of their business: possibly curing a variety of medical disorders through said machine.
6. the sun and her flowers (Rupi Kaur)
As an ode to her Punjabi heritage, Kaur writes simple poetry in lowercase. She elevates topics of equality, femininity, love and loss through its simplicity that has inspired female authors and reader by the masses.
7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han)
Instead of confessing her love for boys, Lara Jean decides to seal her feelings within letters. She leaves the box under her bed, but later finds they have been mysteriously mailed out. Interesting consequences ensue.
8. Miss Burma (Charmaine Craig)
WW2’s history is told from a practically invisible Burmese perspective. It combines true stories of colonialism from the author’s family and a fictional history of a Burmese beauty queen.
9. The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
Both a political commentary and doomed love story, this novel revolves around two Indian twins and their newly acquainted cousin, Sophie.
10. The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri)
The Ganguli family has just moved from Calcutta to New York and hopes to assimilate into American culture. Yet, they don’t want to forget their heritage. Their firstborn, Gogol, must walk this tightrope as the novel follows him growing up.
11. Stolen Reflections: Some stories are told in verse (Anangsha Alammyan)
Alammyan’s poetry is both idiosyncratic and vivid. She examines the image of herself and the world around her to reveal naked, human emotion.
12. Seasonal Velocities (Ryka Aoki)
This puzzle of Ryka Aoki’s work seamlessly fits together to display a full picture of growing up trans as a Japanese American, paving the way for many LGBTQIA+ and female authors.
13. The Collected Schizophrenias (Esmé Weijun Wang)
Mental health is often misunderstood on a societal level. Schizophrenia is even more so. Wang’s essays bring to light the difficulty of getting diagnosed with schizophrenia and navigating life with it.
14. Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity (Karen Nakamura)
In the not-so-distant past, the deaf population of Japan were treated as secondary citizens. Nakamura demonstrates the decades of struggle deaf activists in Japan went through to achieve rights for the marginalized.
15. Ascension (Jacqueline Koyanagi)
Koynagi regularly features queer POC with disabilities in her novels. Ascension doesn’t disappoint! Sky surgeon, Alana Quick, comes across polyamory and a stunning, blonde captain as she fights to keep her sister safe.
16. Sick: A Memoir (Porochista Khakpour)
Late-stage Lyme’s disease is painful and often misdiagnosed. Khakpour gracefully writes this memoir as evidence to the mental and physical stress the illness has put her through.
17. I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World (Kai Cheng Thom)
This author poses solutions to trans societal isolation and violence through various modes of expression. Heartfelt and poignant, this book changes lives.
18. Aunty Lee’s Delights (Ovidia Yu)
While Singaporeans are fully aware of this mystery series, the rest of the world is likely unaware of Ovidia Yu. Widower/restaurateur Rosie Lee works together with the help of her family, a gay couple, and an Australian to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death.
19. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (Iris Chang)
Many know of WW2, but not as many know about the atrocity that was the rape of Nanking. Chang draws on her grandparents’ experiences as she recounts Chinese history from three, unique perspectives.
20. Out (Natsuo Kirino)
A surface level innocent wife brutally murders her husband and enlists the help of the Japanese Yakuza to help cover it up.
21. The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story (Marie Kondo & Yuko Uramoto)
CATEGORY: Fiction/Graphic novel
Marie Kondo swept the nation with her feel-good show about how to declutter life. The graphic novel version of her helps out a messy Chiaki (as well as readers) after her attractive neighbor mentions the state of her balcony.
22. The Eighth Girl (Maxine Mei-Fung Chung)
Alexa Wú suffers from multiple personality disorder unbeknownst to most around her. The execeptions are her best friend, stepmother, and shrink. Her best friend, Emma, works at a gentlemen’s club and slowly gets Alexa involved in a snafu.
23. Till Morning Comes (Han Suyin)
Suyin weaves the history of China’s Communist Revolution through the romance of a beautiful, American correspondent and a virtuous, Chinese surgeon.
24. Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)
Shaker Heights is seemingly immaculate until a custody battle over a Chinese American adoptee. Elena Richardson, who fits perfectly into the mold of the suburb, finds herself obsessed with as to why the mysterious Mia Warren is opposed to the adoption. This book has topped many lists of bestselling books and top female authors for good reason.
25. The Crow Eaters (Bapsi Sidwha)
The Crow Eaters humorously depicts the life of Freddy Junglewalla and company after a move from their native jungle town to Lahore under British rule.
26. The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan)
Now adapted into a film, this iconic novel paved the way for many female authors of Asian descent, telling the story of a group of families that form a mahjong club. It carefully illuminates a bittersweet relationship between the novel’s immigrant mothers and their Chinese American children through their socio-cultural differences.
27. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (Wang Ping)
When Ping is a child she decides she wants to have tiny, deformed feet like her grandmother. Although regular feet are legal at this point, she tries to bind them. She uses this as a starting point for her examination of foot binding in Chinese culture.
28. The Mountains Sing (Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai)
There are few historical fictions that have the emotional impact that The Mountains Sing cause in its readers. It follows generations of the Tran family through the Vietnam War.
Lim-Hing masterfully edits this anthology of talented, queer female authors to show the similarities and disparities between their experiences.
30. The Words of a Woman Who Breathes Fire (Kitty Tsui)
This book holds the title of the first book published by a Chinese American lesbian. If that is not enough to pique interest, it has the power to incite laughter, tears, and rage simultaneously.
31. Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide (Gita Aravamudan)
There is a rising imbalance of male versus female infants in India. Incredible female author Aravamudan uses investigative journalism to reveal a horror known as female foeticide.
32. When Fox is a Thousand (Larissa Lai)
Sometimes a work of fiction mimics poetry. So beautiful is its lyricism that it reads as more than just a story. Talented female author Lai creates her own version of the mythical Fox in Chinese folklore to add another great novel to the list of magic realism.
33. The Night Tiger: A Novel (Yangsze Choo)
Many have read this book in a short period of time. Not because of the length of the book, but because of the incredible plot. This novel is filled with twists, death, and shapeshifters.
34. My Sister, Bongsoon (Gong Jiyoung)
South Korea experienced an economic uplift; however, not every citizen experienced it. This autobiographical novel by female author Gong Jiyoung focuses on the cushy, middle-class author’s life juxtaposed with her maid’s.
35. When the Emperor Was Divine (Julie Otsuka)
Japanese internment camps were certainly one of the most inhumane decisions made by the American government. A violation of human rights is made into something beautiful and heart-wrenching through this historical fiction by female author Julie Otsuka.
36. The Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston)
Growing up in California was different for Hong Kingston than most because of the author’s Chinese heritage. In this autobiography, she discloses the events that shaped her identity.
37. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Cathy Park Hong)
Hong’s memoir scrutinizes American culture and history through the eyes of a Korean American woman and a mesmerizing female author.
38. Days of Distraction (Alexandra Chang)
If it wasn’t enough that her boyfriend didn’t understand her, the protagonist is misunderstood by society as a whole. An interracial relationship and lack of recognition from her managers lead her across the country to find herself.
39. Please Look After Mom (Kyung-Sook Shin)
A mother gets separated from her husband at a Seoul train station. As her family struggles to find her, they uncover her secrets.
40. The Vegetarian (Han Kang)
Yeong-hye is described by her husband as unremarkable in every way–that is, until she becomes a vegetarian. Violence surprisingly overtakes her life from those closest to her as she fights to retain her lifestyle.
41. Struggle to Be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women’s Theology (Chung Hyun Kyung)
What does it mean to be Asian and Christian? This captivating book by female author Chung Hyun Kyung answers this question and more on spirituality as it dissects intersectionality between religion and race.
42. The Palace of Illusions (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni)
The Mahabharata is one of India’s oldest epics. Divakaruni reimagines the tale through the perspective of princess Panchaali.
43. even this page is white (Vivek Shraya)
Trans female author, Vivek Shraya, presents readers with gorgeous poems about ugly issues. Racism, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ love are just a few topics covered within.
44. Convenience Store Woman: A Novel (Sayaka Murata)
Keiko Furukura is pressured by those around her to find a husband and career, even though she is completely content with her life working at Smile Mart.
45. Strange Weather in Tokyo: A Novel (Hiromi Kawakami)
A woman finds a former teacher in a bar and an interesting definition of love while she is at it.
46. Kitchen (Banana Yoshimoto)
The protagonist, Mikage, is taken in by her friend and transgender mother after she is orphaned once again.
47. The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth (Veeraporn Nitiprapha)
Adultery and an orphan change Chareeya’s life in that order. She metaphorically travels outside of the lush outskirts of Bangkok through music and trashy novels. Her life shows the beating heart of Thailand.
Written by Alexis Frankel
Who are your favorite female authors of Asian descent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.