15 books by Asian Canadian authors to read for Asian Heritage Month
May is Asian Heritage Month. Celebrate by checking out one of these great Canadian books.
How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of idiosyncratic and diverse stories. Capturing the daily lives of immigrants, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures their hopes, disappointments, trauma and acts of defiance. From a young man painting nails in a salon, to a housewife learning English from soap-operas, How to Pronounce Knife navigates tragedy and humour.
Thammavongsa is a writer and poet. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Paris Review and NOON. She has published four books of poetry, including 2019's Cluster.
Set over a century and spanning five continents, We Two Alone traces the evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. Tracing various people, families and professionals across the globe, Jack Wang creates a tapestry of experience that encompasses the trials and tribulations of a diaspora trying to find its place in the world.
Wang's short stories have been published in Joyland Magazine, The Humber Literary Review and The New Quarterly. We Two Alone is his first book.
Swimming Back to Trout River traces back to the summer of 1986 in a Chinese village. It tells the story of 10-year-old Junie after she receives a momentous letter from her parents, Momo and Cassia, who had left for America years ago. In order to reunite all three members, some painful family secrets must be brought to light.
Linda Rui Feng is an academic and writer. She is a professor of Chinese cultural history at the University of Toronto. Swimming Back to Trout River is her first novel.
Hana Khan Carries On is a romantic comedy from Uzma Jalaluddin. Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. With the arrival of her aunt, cousin and a rival restaurant, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. The battle to fight for her family gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's owner.
Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.
Interlacing geographical forces with family stories, Two Trees Make a Forest is a memoir that encompasses history, travel, nature and memoir. A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks her grandfather's story while growing closer to the land he knew.
Two Trees Make a Forest won the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and was a finalist for Canada Reads 2021,when it was championed by singer-songwriter Scott Helman.
In home Body, Rupi Kaur walks readers through a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of the self. It is a collection of raw, honest conversations with oneself — a reminder to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family and embrace change.
Kaur is a bestselling poet from Brampton, Ont. At the beginning of 2020, she was named the writer of the decade by U.S. publication The New Republic. Her other poetry collections are milk and honey and the sun and her flowers, both made the New York Times bestseller list.
Seven tells the story of Sharifa, who accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India to research her great-great-grandfather, a wealthy business leader and philanthropist. Sharifa's trip coincides with a time of unrest within her insular and conservative religious community. She discovers an unexpected truth and is forced to take a position.
Farzana Doctor is a novelist and social worker. Her novels include All Inclusive and Six Metres of Pavement. She won the 2011 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for an emerging LGBTQ writer.
Jonny Sun is back with a collection of essays and other writings in his unique style in Goodbye, Again. The pieces in this collection range from long meditations on topics like loneliness and being an outsider to short humour pieces and memorable one-liners.
Sun is an engineer, artist, comic and PhD candidate at MIT. He gained fame on Twitter with comics featuring an alien trying to understand the human condition. He is also the author of the comic Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too.
In the novel Accidentally Engaged, Reena Manji is an expert at baking bread and treats her sourdough starters like her children, but when it comes to her actual family, nothing ever goes according to the recipe. Her parents have found her Nadim — yet another potential "Good Muslim Husband" — and he's got it all, except he works for her father.
Farah Heron is a writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Chai Factor. Her YA debut novel, Tahira in Bloom, will be published November 2021.
Welcome Home is a work of nonfiction that combines her powerful personal story with vulnerable and authentic poetry and writing. Najwa Zebian came to Canada from Lebanon at the age of 16 and was faced with the challenge of figuring out her identity in a new country, while also dealing with racism and societal pressures.
Zebian is a Lebanese Canadian activist, educator and writer. Her books include the poetry collections Mind Platter, The Nectar of Pain and Sparks of Phoenix.
The poems in The Language We Were Never Taught To Speak use influences from pop culture, the Bible, tech and Hong-Kongese history to reflect and reveal how the stories of immigrants in Canada hold both universal truths and singular distinctions. The book invites the reader to meditate on spirituality, food, and the shape love takes.
Grace Lau is a Hong Kong born Chinese Canadian writer who was raised in Vancouver and currently lives in Toronto.
Chiru Sakura — Falling Cherry Blossoms is a moving memoir about the author's harrowing experiences during and after the Second World War. At eight years old, she was forcibly removed from her Vancouver home and forced into an internment camp. Now a grandmother, Grace Eiko Thomson is retelling the memories of her mother as well as adding her own experiences.
Thomson is a second-generation Japanese Canadian. In 2000, as Director/Curator, she launched the Japanese Canadian National Museum. She was President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians and served on the National Executive Board. She currently participates in various Downtown Eastside activities and issues in Vancouver.
You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked. is a surreal novel about a translator who travels the globe with his lover. Along the way, they tell each other stories, pose philosophical questions and share their ideas about the world. It's glamorous and stimulating, but the lover often disappears without explanation.
Sheung-King is a writer born in Vancouver, raised in Hong Kong and currently living in Toronto. You Are Eating an Orange, You Are Naked. Is his first book.
The novel Satellite Love is set in a city in Japan in 1999. Anna is a lonely teenager who turns to stargazing for comfort and escape. But when the Low Earth Orbit satellite (aka LEO) returns Anna's gaze and comes down to earth as Leo, what follows is an unconventional story about love, loneliness and human connection.
Genki Ferguson is a writer from Calgary, and the son of acclaimed writer Will Ferguson. Satellite Love is his first book.
The Last Exiles is a novel set in North Korea. It's about two young lovers, Jin and Suja. They meet in university, but their class differences become apparent when they return home — and may keep them apart. When Jin sees how much his family is struggling, he decides to escape. When Suja discovers this, she sets after him, and what unfolds is a dangerous and precarious journey for them both.
Ann Shin is a writer and filmmaker from Toronto. Her documentary films include My Enemy, My Brother and The Defector: Escape from North Korea. My Enemy, My Brother was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014. She has directed programs for several television networks, including CBC. She is also the author of three poetry collections. The Last Exiles is her first novel.