Asian writers have been subject to a lot of racism and trolling as of late. I won't go into the details because I think it will bring up a lot of trauma and I wanted to take this opportunity to spread some joy. So, I decided to share some of my favourite romantic books by Asian authors.
Asia is a diverse continent full of unique cultures. Not every Asian's experience will be the same, and that's why books by different Asian authors are all interesting in their own right. I encourage you to read from a wide scope of Asian writers in order to get a diverse experience. I have also decided to focus this list on the theme of romance, because I have read so many books by Asian authors that have incredible ships and such amazingly well-written couples. Not all of these books just fall into the category of romance, but some might give you the opportunity to read more light-hearted Asian stories as opposed to just reading about trauma. While stories of the harsh realities of Asian people are needed, it is also integral to read books that spark joy. So without further adieu, here is my list.
1. Loveboat, Taipei by: Abigail Hing Wen
This book centers around Ever, a Taiwanese senior with a passion for dance who has been sent to Taiwan to study Mandarin by her strict parents. Ever finds herself in between a diverse group of individuals and soon finds herself falling in love. But along the way she also discovers more about herself and why she may have a strained relationship with her parents. I loved this book. The chemistry between the main love interests was incredible, and Ever goes through a great journey of self-love throughout the book. But not only is the book romantic, it also explores parental/child relationships and the sacrifices that immigrant parents have to make.
2. Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by: Roselle Lim
Vanessa Yu is able to tell people's fortunes by reading tea leaves. But even though she knows other people's futures, she is unsure of her own. She takes up the opportunity to live with her Aunt in Paris, and along the way she becomes determined to match her Aunt up with her Aunt's long lost love, and perhaps find some love of her own as well. This book was magical, whimiscal, and beautifully written. The love stories were powerful and adorable, and I loved that this book was set in Paris but didn't contain a white protagonist.
3. Sex and Vanity by: Kevin Kwan
Being bi-racial, Lucie has always found herself caught in between her Chinese roots on her mother's side, and her life of high white privilege on her father's side. When Lucie meets George Zao on the island of Capri during a glamorous wedding, she is immediately drawn to him. However, the white side of her family is less than accepting of her choice, and the book follows Lucie and George through a number of years as they make their way back to each other. I know so many people love Crazy Rich Asians by: Kevin Kwan, myself included. His latest book Sex and Vanity explores colonial ideals, white privilege, and growing up bi-racial. Of course, there is also descriptions of the super-rich and amazing chemistry in the middle of it all.
4. To All the Boy's I've Loved Before by: Jenny Han
Lara Jean Song-Covey has written letters to everybody she has ever loved. But when the letters one day mysteriously get out, she employs a fake dating scheme with one of her letter receipients in order to protect herself from the embarassment of her new crush. This book is super popular, thanks to the movie series. But if you've watched the movies but haven't read the books, please do. The books are comforting, give great insight into sibling relationships, and also go deeper into Lara Jean's Korean identity. This series will always remain a comfort for me.
5. These Violent Delights by: Chloe Gong
In 1926 in Shanghai, powerful gangs rule the streets. Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and she vows to make her father proud. On the other side, Roma Montagov is the heir of the Scarlet's rivals, The White Flowers, which is a Russian gang fighting to take over Scarlet territory. Roma was Juliette's first love, and when a mysterious illness and an even stranger creature starts invading Shanghai, the two must reunite to save their families. Roma and Juliette are such a powerful couple. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but it is so much more complex, so intense, and also quite romantic. Please read it!
6. The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by: Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Flora is an orphan who has been forced to disguise herself as the pirate Florian on a dangerous ship with their brother Alfie. Soon Flora becomes tasked with protecting Lady Evelyn, a noble girl who is being forced across the seas to enter an arranged marriage. Neither Flora nor Evelyn know the adventure that they will be undertaking, and it will be one that involves magic, mermaids, and new love. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. But it was so interesting! Evelyn is Japanese and Flora is Black and genderqueer. He uses multiple pronouns throughout the book. Overall this book had an amazing queer romance and some really interesting characters.
7. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by: Sandhya Menon
Pinky Kumar has always been too rebellious for her conservative lawyer parents. But one summer up at her family's Cape Cod house, she devises a plan to fake-date Sami Jha, a Harvard-bound law student who can get on Pinky's nerves, but who would be the perfect candidate to impress her parents. I love all of Menon's books. They are easy to read and fun, and always have a great dash of Indian culture and humour. Pinky was such a fun protagonist and the fake dating trope was alive and well in this book.
So, this is my list of books by Asian authors that get love stories right! Let me know if you have read these or if you have any other recommendations.
Emily @ Paperback Princess