Asian American Writers Workshop reading list - book covers

This week’s reading list comes to us from Asian American Writers Workshop Executive Director Jafreen Uddin, and is a continuation of our efforts to amplify Asian American voices in literature, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Jafreen’s selections coalesce around the Asian American epic novel.

Every day at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, we work to create and nurture a space for stories that might otherwise go unheard. One thing we know for sure is that the Asian American experience is as vast and diverse as the canon of works that compellingly depict it. Some of my personal favorites, a few of which I’ve listed below, are the epic novels—the ones that span geographic, cultural, and generational lines to tell stories about family, love, and the many ties that bind us together. The backdrops against which many of these books are set are grand and seemingly distant from our modern lives today: from the opium trade between China and India, to the twilight of the American Gold Rush; from the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, to the devastation of the Vietnam War. But the journeys of these characters—both literal and figurative—resonate in a way that only good literature can, transporting the reader to worlds and experiences far beyond their reading corner.
—Jafreen Uddin, executive director of the Asian American Writers Workshop