AAPI 2015 Debut Authors You Need to Know

“I’m going to blog”, I told myself repeatedly, through March, Spring break, after midterms. Finally, here I am after finals, finally sitting myself down and creating content I’ve been meaning to do for the past few months. Meetings and work took the better part of my time that I wasn’t spending on school and this blog, along with the social media that’s associated with it, were put on hold. 

However, it’s apt that it’s May, not because school is over (for now) but because it’s Asian American Pacific Islander Awareness month, which is one of my favorite months, not only because I'm able to celebrate my own heritage but also share it with others.

When thinking about my own experiences as an Asian in the US, I constantly find myself referring to Alex Dang’s spoken word performance, “What Kind of Asian Are You?” and Carlina Duan’s “Our sacrifice, our shame”.

Last year, I compiled a list (part one and part two) of young adult and adult fiction AAPI authors, along with website resources about the AAPI experience. This year, I’ve decided to share some 2015 AAPI debut authors.



Adult Fiction

Cecily Wong, Diamond Head
Cecily Wong wrote the first chapter of Diamond Head while still at Barnard College. Diamond Head interweaves the story of three generations of women (a little like Amy Tan) across the cultural background of early 20th century China to late 20th century Hawaii. The story is roughly based on aspects of Wong's own family. 

Patricia Park, Re Jane
Re Jane is a contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre from the half-Korean, half-American orphan named Jane Re, who's sent to live with her uncle in Flushing, Queens. She discovers her Korean identity as well as a sense of belonging. EW and Refinery-29 both gave the book positive reviews. I personally found the Q+A about the book on Patricia Park's site interesting.

Jennifer Tseng*, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness (May 26th, 2015)
41-year old Mayumi is bored by her day to day life and books provide her an outlet. One day she issues a library card to a shy-17 year old boy, whom Mayumi finds herself sexually attracted to. As the affair grows, Mayumi finds the affair impossible to break free from as they begin to share their opinions on books and other things.
*has had poetry collections published before

Young Adult Fiction


Karen Bao, Dove Arising
Karen Bao is a student at Columbia and also a writer by night. In Dove Arising, Phaet, a girl who lives in a colony on the Moon. When her mom is arrested, she realizes that everything she's known about her life is not what it seems.

I.W GregorioNone of the Above
I.W. Gregorio is a urologist by day and writer by night. Almost like Superman in my book but a hell of a lot cooler. None of the Above is about Kristin Lattimer, the homecoming queen who discovers that she's intersex. Her diagnosis is leaked to the entire school, upending her whole life. There's a list of intersex experiences and links as well on I.W Gregorio's site if you're interested in learning more about intersex. 

Fonda Lee, Zeroboxer
A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices put everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.
Stacey Lee, Under a Painted Sky
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Valynne Maetani, Ink and Ashes (June 1st, 2015)
Ink and Ashes follows the story of Claire Takata, who, on the anniversary of her father's death, discovers a letter from her father to her stepfather. Before this, she's had no reason to believe that her stepfather even knew her father and she searches for more information. Soon, Claire finds out that her father was part of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and her father's legacy soon starts to blur onto her life.

Aisha SaeedWritten in the Stars
Naila breaks her conservative parents' no-dating rule by falling in love with Saif and Naila's parents, shocked by her decision, decides to take her back to Pakistan to find her roots. However, her parents have found her a husband and wants her to marry him now. Naila finds herself cut off from everything familiar and needs a way out. 


As usual, let me know if I've missed any authors! 

Which authors are you looking forward to reading? Who are some of your favorite Asian American/Pacific Islander authors?

Edit: I added some more authors  based on emails I've received and further research. So excited that the list is longer! 

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Maira Gall