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6 Books to Read After You Read and Watch Crazy Rich Asians

by | August 20

Did you know Crazy Rich Asians is the first mainstream Hollywood film to have an all-Asian cast in 25 years? The last film to have one was The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Notably, that movie was also an adaptation of a book. (Maybe Hollywood has a problem creating original stories that center on Asian Americans? A thought I’ll explore another time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so freaking excited about the movie (starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and local Queens girl Awkwafina)—and was so lucky to see it early! But I’m even more excited for author Kevin Kwan and director Jon Chu. They are doing something legendary—bringing a story like this into the spotlight where all Americans can experience it (they even turned down a huge Netflix deal just to give the film a chance at the traditional market).

So, you’re probably here because you read the book, saw the movie (or will be seeing it very, very soon!), and just finished hanging up the Crazy Rich Asians movie poster in your house. Now what? Read these amazing books by Asian and Asian American authors next, that’s what!

American Panda

American Panda

by Gloria Chao

Imagine you’re 17-years-old, and your whole life is already mapped out for you. You’re at MIT studying to become a doctor, you’ll eventually meet and marry a pre-approved husband, produce a ton of babies, and do exactly as your parents wish forever. This is Mei’s reality. She can’t bring herself to break the truth to her family—she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not the Taiwanese-American son-in-law her parents want. When Mei reconnects with her older, estranged brother, Xing (who’s not on speaking terms with the ’rents because he dates the wrong women), Mei begins to wonder if living her truth really is as impossible as she thought. American Panda is a charming and hilarious debut from Gloria Chao—you will eat it up!

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When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi

by Sandhya Menon

Didn’t you know, the rom-com is making a comeback. Here’s another one for the list! When Dimple Met Rishi (sound familiar?) follows Dimple Shah—fresh from high school, ready to leave her family (and their standards) behind and start her journey to becoming Web Developer Extraordinaire. Naturally there are complications—namely Rishi, the Ideal Indian Husband Dimple’s parents secretly insert into her life. When the two get trapped together at a summer program—will there be love and magic in the air? Or will Dimple throw iced coffee in Rishi’s face? A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

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The White Tiger

The White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga

Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, The White Tiger is a must read (seriously, finish this article and then go read it). When Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, plans a trip to Bangalore, Balram Halwai spends one week writing him a letter describing his life and entrepreneurial rise in Indian society. Balram recounts his beginnings in the rural “Darkness,” his trip to Delhi, where he became a driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, and move to Bangalore, where he eventually fled after killing his boss and stealing his money. He is an anti-hero (describing himself as a man of “tomorrow”), and the book is a darkly humorous look at the workings of globalization, individualism, class structure, and more in a developing country. This is one where you can peel the layers back for days—did someone say book club?

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Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Y’all should already know about this book, but I’m going to write about it for the people in the back. Little Fires Everywhere recently took the book community by storm, and it was the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick in September 2017!

The novel follows single mom Mia Warren, who moves to suburban Ohio with her teenage daughter, Pearl. They rent a house from the Richardsons, a neighboring picture-perfect family, and quickly become tangled up in their lives. While Mia is a free-spirited artist, Elena—the Richardson matriarch—is rigid and a stickler for rules. Naturally, shit is going to go down. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposite sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

You will not regret the decision to pick this one up! And for those who’ll have a book hangover after this read (so, everyone), you can look forward to a limited series adaptation from Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington at some point in the future.

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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows Nikki, the daughter of Indian immigrants living in cosmopolitan West London and doing everything she can to distance herself from the rigid Sikh community that defined her childhood. When Nikki takes a job teaching creative writing, she quickly finds herself immersed in the Punjabi community she had been attempting to run away from. Her students are Sikh widows trying to learn English, not the art of the short story. But when one of the widows finds a book of erotica and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes there’s a lot more to her students than tradition and faithfulness. Although the class tries to keep their work a secret, they eventually draw the attention and ire of a local morality group—which causes problems for all. This book (also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!) is a sexy and heartwarming page-turner about #sisterhood, and I’m here for it.

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The Wangs vs. the World

The Wangs vs. the World

by Jade Chang

Charles Wang is a brash, lovable businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune. Now he’s lost everything in the financial crisis. His plan? Gather the family and head to China to reclaim their ancestral lands and start fresh. Charles rounds up two of his kids from schools he can no longer afford and packs them into the only car that wasn’t repossessed. Along with their wealth-addicted stepmother, Barbra, the family heads on a journey across the country from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to upstate New York, where elder daughter and disgraced art world It-girl Saina lives. Along the way, the family goes through trials, tribulations, and attempted mutiny—and eventually Charles must decide what he’s willing to give up in order to keep his family intact. Incredibly funny and charming, The Wangs vs. the World is a hilarious debut and an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America.

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Shefali works on the Corporate Digital Marketing team at Simon & Schuster. Because her whole life is #reading, it’s hard for her to pick a favorite genre—anything with strong voice is amazing. She sometimes has unpopular opinions, loves Jane Austen, and finds snark, sassiness, and Oxford commas to be necessary parts of life. Follow her on Twitter at @ShefaliLohia or Instagram at @shefallsgracefully.