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

Shefali Lohia
August 20 2018
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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!

This post was originally published on GetLiterary.com.

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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American Panda
Gloria Chao

“Weepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal “Delightful.” —Buzzfeed “Charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland Four starred reviews for this incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels? From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

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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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When Dimple Met Rishi
Sandhya Menon

A New York Times bestseller

An NPR Best Book of 2017
A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of 2017
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2017
A School Library Journal Best Young Adult Book of 2017
A Bustle Best YA Novel of 2017
A PopSugar Best Young Adult Novel of 2017
A Book Riot Best Book of 2017
A Paste Magazine Best Young Adult Novel of 2017

“Utterly charming.” —Mindy Kaling
“Effervescent.” —Chicago Tribune
“Full of warm characters and sweet romance.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Get ready to fall in love with Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel.” —HelloGiggles

The rom-com everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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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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The White Tiger
Aravind Adiga

A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright’s Native Son, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society.

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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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Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng

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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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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Balli Kaur Jaswal

Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls. Every woman has a secret life . . . Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community. Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind. As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

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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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The Wangs vs. the World
Jade Chang

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