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Staff Picks: Favorite Books Written by Asian Authors

Staff Picks: Favorite Books Written by Asian Authors

Books have the power to educate, illuminate, and invite empathy. This July, the resident bookworms of Fully Booked Read Asian to recognize and celebrate the vast contributions of Asian writers—stories that go beyond the pages that make people feel seen and heard.

If you are looking for fresh (and even old) books to include in your own reading lists, you might get some ideas from the Fully Booked team. Check out this month's Staff Picks: Favorite Books Written by Asian Authors.

Ilia, Marketing

The Memory Police might not have concrete answers to the mystery its narrative presents but it is a book of deep, devastating emotion. Yoko Ogawa has written a book on what gradual loss feels like--how constant it is and how it slowly chips away at your identity and reality. It is a book that can stun you with its ability to make you feel. 

Arielle, Events

The Magic Fish is an excellent graphic novel written and illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen. Tien, the young child of Vietnamese immigrants, struggles to find the words to reveal his true self to his parents. He attempts to use childhood fairytales to tell his story instead. This book will resonate with those of us who have loving but complicated relationships with our parents, who are still exploring the topographies of their gender identity, and whose formative years were shaped by stories. If you were raised on anime, Studio Ghibli, and Disney, The Magic Fish is a visual treat with a deeply moving story. This is the honest-to-goodness truth: not once in my 27 years of existence has a book made me cry. The Magic Fish was the first to do it for me.

Joe, Events

If I had Your Face by Frances Cha is an amazing novel following a strong female protagonist "trapped" in her own struggles and insecurities. It's a great read if you are interested in South Korea's image of a woman, and if you like stories that can inspire in a tough love manner. 

Anna, Digital Marketing

Something terrible is coming. Great but terrible and perhaps quite literally explosive. That's the sense of foreboding I feel with where I'm currently at while reading an advanced copy of R.F. Kuang's upcoming novel Babel.

It's an alternate, arcane history of Oxford in the 19th century where silver-working (which is essentially the magic system of this book) propelled the British Empire to the height of power globally. Silver-working makes use of engraving similar words in different languages on bars of silver and the silver manifests and amplifies the effects of the words. This is where our first protagonist, Robin, comes in. He will take us from his life of poverty and near demise in Canton to his eventual entry into the Royal Institute of Translation at Oxford University, called Babel (indeed named after the Biblical Tower of Babel), where he will further his studies of languages and make those powerful silver bars himself. He will meet peers and teachers who will make him love, hate, and question Babel all at once. The book also makes the reader start to wonder about language itself and all of its nuances. If you're into dark academia, linguistics, political intrigue, racial dynamics, and a little bit of magic, definitely do not pass this book up.

Karla, Events

I’m super in awe of the author's writing, and how it tells a lot about being alone which I find moving and calming. I want that solitude the narrator is having.

The book is a series of vignettes of the narrator's encounters with other people in different places and times. The interesting thing about Jhumpa Lahiri's creative process in writing is this: she studied the Italian language, wrote this book, and translated it to English. 

I read this during the early days of the pandemic during a series of lockdowns and finishing this book, and made me realize how I miss those brief encounters with strangers that COVID-19 snatched away from my everyday routine at that time. 

For more recommendations, author events, and book news, visit our blog. You may also order your next great read and have it delivered straight to your doorstep via Fully Booked Online.

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