Asian media has been exponentially growing in popularity. This trend is timely as a wave of discrimination against Asians has increased, and, as the Journal of Medical Internet Research points out, the media plays an important role in reinforcing stereotypes and perceptions.
Uplifting Asian voices is vital now, and what better way to do so than by consuming what they create? We have put together a list of audiobooks by Asian authors that you can enjoy, learn from, or maybe even relate to.
1) When Dimple Met Rishi
Many are familiar with the rom-com genre, but author Sandhya Menon puts her spin on it by incorporating the Indian tradition of arranged marriage in When Dimple Met Rishi. This is a big problem for protagonist Dimple, who would rather develop her tech skills than get married. On the other hand, Rishi is a hopeless romantic, excited at the prospect of meeting his future wife.
When they meet at a summer program for aspiring web developers, they don’t exactly get along, but they still find they’re drawn to each other. Readers who love a funny, light-hearted romance will enjoy this book, and women in STEM will appreciate the representation too!
2) This Time Will Be Different
Asian coming-of-age novels are coming to the forefront of the market as more stories of the immigrant experience are being sought out by audiences across generations. Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will Be Different follows 17-year-old CJ Katsuyama as she navigates her youth in the midst of a turbulent family drama. She finds solace in her aunt Hannah’s flower shop until it is decided that the shop will be sold to the family who cheated them out of their property during World War II.
The book masterfully tackles racism and feminism, breaking down the model minority myth often imposed on Asian immigrants. It could be relatable for many young Asians in situations like CJ’s and educational for those unfamiliar with the history it touches on.
3) On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Navigating the immigrant experience is never easy, especially when coming from war. Poet Ocean Vuong’s first novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is written in the form of a letter by the narrator — known only as Little Dog — addressed to his mother who can’t read and will not know the true meaning. It’s a hauntingly beautiful and tragic exploration of the trauma of war, Southeast Asian diaspora, and queerness through the relationship between mother and son.
It also dives into the struggle of trying to understand a parent as a first-generation immigrant, both coming from different lives. Queer readers may see themselves in Little Dog’s story, a close-to-home depiction of trying to find acceptance in society and family.
4) Crying in H Mart
When trying to connect to different cultures you grew up in, finding a sense of belonging can be challenging. Crying in H Mart touches on the complexity of grief and culture through the singer and author Michelle Zauner’s relationship with her mother Chongmi, who passed away from cancer. Through short stories and anecdotes from her life, Zauner unravels her experiences navigating her place as a half-Asian, half-white woman, and trying to find her place in these identities.
After drifting away from her “Koreaness,” she decides to learn how to make Korean food to keep the culture and memory of Chongmi alive in her. It’s a heart-wrenching yet hopeful listen that reminds readers experiencing loss that death is not the end of all things. Instead, it can be the start of new ones.
5) Hunter School
Despite what you think you may know about a country, there’s much history and culture that isn’t often given a spotlight. Sakinu Ahronglong’s Hunter School intermingles folklore, history, and tradition woven into autobiographical accounts as an aboriginal Taiwanese person.
Through the past, elders, and ancestors, he learns more about his heritage and the value of community and traditions built on kindness and peace. It’s an eye-opening book for anyone looking to learn more about indigenous cultures or to see society in a new light.
Read our other audiobook guides: